Securing Your Boat at the Calypso Slip

June 2, 2015 in Practical Infomation

The Calypso slip is located at a 12 slip T dock on Nigh Creek about halfway between town and the house, along the main road that parallels the creek and ocean.  With plenty of water for any outboard boat, the dock is well protected from wind and there is no boat traffic, so the water is always calm. Nigh Creek is clearly  identified on marine charts of the Hope Town Harbour, and the boat rental agencies will gladly locate the creek on the charts they typically provide. The multiple signs and pink gate help identify the dock from the street and the water.

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Securing your boat with crossing and spring lines does not work well at this dock due to the unusual position of the pilings off the dock. The best (and easiest) way is to drop a stern anchor 1-2 boat lengths from the boat’s final position in the slip, and tighten the line enough to keep the bow from getting under the dock. Secure the bow with a single line with enough length to account for the tidal change. Lines on the side pilings are not necessary! It is perfectly fine for your boat to rub against the side pilings in these calm waters, and they will help separate your boat from the neighboring boats. This method of securing your boat (stern anchor and bow to dock) is how you will tie up to most every dock in the area- they just won’t have the side pilings. (Of course, things are different with larger boats at the marinas.)


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Where to Buy Groceries, and Beer/Wine?

December 11, 2014 in Best Vacation Ever, Practical Infomation

A frequent question is whether to buy groceries in Marsh Harbour or on Elbow Cay, and the choice is between Marsh Harbour’s large grocery store, similar to a mid-sized US supermarket, and the 4 smaller grocery stores on Elbow Cay, similar to a neighborhood grocery . The answer greatly depends upon your situation. How much time do you have? Do you have help? Are you particular about your food products or flexible? Is grocery shopping an adventure or a chore? Hopefully, these suggestions will provide some guidance.

For most people, the decision comes down to convenience and time. If you have time between landing and getting to your boat or the ferry, and don’t mind having to deal with groceries while in transit, then grocery shopping in Marsh Harbour on the way to Elbow Cay makes sense. If you have lots of luggage, lack patience hauling boxes/bags around, and/or little time, then grocery shopping in Elbow Cay may be the better choice.

Don’t underestimate the 4 grocery stores on Elbow Cay. They supply about 600 residents and visitors to the 200+ rental homes. Over time, they have learned to stock what people need most often, or with which they can make do. There may not be 30 brands of breakfast cereal, but the 6 in stock are popular and acceptable.

About the stores…

In Marsh Harbour, Maxwell’s is the largest grocery store in the area with good variety and the best prices.

On Elbow Cay, Harbour View and Vernon‘s are in town. (Golf carts are not allowed in town, which may be an issue with large purchases.) LVA is in the middle of the island, just “around the corner” and a very short cart ride from Calypso.  The Food Store is  about a 5-8 minute cart ride to the south, is the largest and best stocked grocery on the island, and will deliver upon request.

Making a round trip between Elbow Cay and Marsh Harbour specifically to shop for groceries is rarely justifiable, unless you need something essential that is unavailable on Elbow Cay, because the ferry/taxi fares or boat gas will cost more than you would save.

With respect to adult beverages, there are 3 stores on Elbow Cay with a very acceptable selection. Hopetown Wine and Spirits is located at the harbor entrance adjacent to the lighthouse and only accessible by boat. Lighthouse Liquors is at the base of the main public dock. A&E Liquors is a 5 minute cart ride to the south of Calypso.

The owners of Calypso greatly prefer to buy groceries (and wine/beer) on Elbow Cay, primarily for the convenience, but also because it’s part of the “island experience”. Very rarely have we been unable to find what we need, or an acceptable substitute.

As everything has to be imported, you will find most prices higher than in the states. Really, this holds true with just about anything purchased in the islands.


The Food Store, Elbow Cay


The Food Store, Elbow Cay

A Boater’s Paradise – Boat Rental Advice

November 4, 2013 in Practical Infomation

FamilyBoatEveryone who visits Elbow Cay should take advantage of the beautiful surrounding waters and neighboring islands. Fantastic snorkeling, outstanding fishing, pristine beaches, charming harbours, and interesting communities are within a safe and easy boat ride. One does not have to be an old salt – navigation is “eyeball” simple and hazards few.  Abaco Sound, the body of water between the outer islands and the larger Great Abaco Island, is well protected and rarely rough. Excellent published guides are available, and rental boat companies typically provide excellent charts and advice.Tom Conching (Small)

A frequent question is “What boat should I rent?” and the answer is “Rent as large a boat as you can.”  Don’t skimp in this department. A few extra dollars spent on a larger boat is almost always worth the enhanced enjoyment of your trip. If your experience is limited or with smaller boats, don’t be daunted. Most all of your docking or anchoring will be in protected waters or harbours, and boat size won’t make much difference. However, when the gang packs all the snorkel gear, coolers, and beach bags – and invites some newfound friends along – you’ll be glad to have the extra space and capacity. A larger boat will also be more comfortable in a greater variety of conditions, and allow you to travel farther without worry. Most of what you will encounter will be wind chop on the sound, and a larger boat is less affected. You would be hard pressed, in a 23’ to  27’ boat, to encounter any conditions in the sound that would be uncomfortable or remotely dangerous.

albury23Calypso’s favorite boat is an Albury, built on the neighboring island of Man-O-War and optimized for the local waters. They ride great, are well designed, and are built like tanks. Island Marine, located just outside the Hope Town harbour entrance on Parrot Cay, is our preferred boat rental agent, and has the largest fleet of exceptionally well maintained boats. Their customer service is also outstanding. (Calypso renters qualify for a 10% discount on weekly rentals.) The 20’Albury is comfortable for 4-6 people, but is a little tender – meaning it is a bit sensitive to weight distribution and tends to lean to the side. On a windy day, the ride can be slightly uncomfortable, but tolerable. The 23’ Albury is a real workhorse, and ideal for 6-10 people, or as many as 12 in a pinch. With lots of seats and storage, it swallows people and gear. The ride is stable and minimally affected by weight distribution or wind chop on the sound. The 27’ Albury is a beast – in a good way- able to handle just about any weather conditions without worry, and a Calypso houseful with all the gear imaginable. The twin engines are remarkably fuel efficient.  Island Marine








There are two other companies of note. Sea Horse Boat Rentals, based on Hope Town and Marsh Harbour, also has Albury boats available. Cat’s Paw, located in Hope Town harbour, has a small fleet or 4 boats and is worth a try for a short term and/or convenient rental.

There are other companies located in Marsh Harbour, but if you are at the end of a long travel day and the sound is windy, carting your people and luggage across the sound may be a challenge, and wet. Also be aware that it’s a long run around the point from the rental companies on the east side of Marsh Harbour, within the actual harbour, to Elbow Cay.

Regardless of which boat you rent, you’ll be glad you took advantage of one of the greatest attractions of the area!