Why Do Most Cruisers Go to Nassau? How About West Bay?

West Bay on the western end of New Providence (Nassau is on the eastern end), turned out to be a perfect anchorage for us on the way and returning from the Exumas.   If you’re not going to check in or re-provision in Nassau, West Bay provides a comfortable anchorage with a state park on one side of the bay.   It’s a bit tricky getting in, so you’ll have to eyeball your way through the reef, but visual piloting is pretty obvious in water this clear.  We had a bit of difficulty eyeballing it because there was a large oil slick reaching almost the entire side of the bay making it seem like there was dark water (i.e. reef) all the way across.    Our charts told us otherwise and there were sailboats anchored inside, so obviously there was a way in…  so we crept in and found flat clear water with almost no surge.

The bay is wide open to the west, and even northwest and southwest, but south, north and east are well protected.   Approaching from the NW Channel Light/crossing Tongue of the Ocean, you’ll spot the red and white striped smoke stacks from some type of cargo ship/tanker facility around the corner on the outside of the bay.

A closer shot approaching from the NW Channel Light/Tongue of the Ocean.

Courtesy of Google Earth,  here’s an overhead of the west end of New Providence (remember Nassau is on the east end) showing West Bay — notice Google Earth calls it Clifton Bay.  You can get an idea how it’s tricky to get in, but there are channels.  Make sure to arrive with decent light left to eyeball your way.     We anchored all the way up in the northeast corner off a little beach with a sand bottom.  The sand made good holding.

We anchored in about 10 feet of water over sand.  Now WHERE IS that Spade Anchor?   It literally disappeared into the sand.  No worries about dragging!

No worries about the anchorage being too crowded – so no need to anchor too close to any other boat!  WooHoo!  My kind of place!

A gorgeous sunset and a glass of wine topped off a great day of sailing from Shroud Cay to West End.  We’re staging to sail tomorrow up through the Tongue of the Ocean to Northwest Channel Light and anchor on the Big Bahamas Banks on the way back to south Florida.

And the sunrise the next morning providing enough light for us to make our way back through the reef to sail across the Great Bahamas Bank.

So if you cruise the Bahamas regularly, do you always go to Nassau?  Is there a reason we should go there other than to check in (which we did in Bimini) or to re-provision (we were well provisioned before we left & didn’t even need fresh stuff yet)?  Anyone else anchored in West Bay as a stopover point?      Leave a comment and let us know!  Cheers!  Jan

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