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OBB/West End July 4th weekend!

Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
This trip was never planned as a fishing trip (that was last month at Grand Cay!) but just a hang-out, relax and go-with-the-flow kind of getaway....... much as we have done on a few previous July 4th weekends. We'd be staying aboard our 30 Grady, the HEY MON! for the next four nights......

We booked a slip at OBB last January and we were looking forward to this trip because we had just passed through OBB in late May on our way to Grand Cay. We shoved off the home dock last Thursday morning in north Broward and had the usual, sloppy trip over (where was the "2 feet or less" that NOAA predicted??) and in just under 3 hours we pulled into the Marina at Old Bahama Bay with a few rainshowers in the area.

Being the only guy in the Office, Customs was a breeze as we had already planned to get in there a day before the "rush" of boaters that we knew would be coming in on Friday for the long weekend! Here's how "busy" Customs was that day! Hehe......... :Rockon

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Checking in at the Dockmaster's Office, I was able to pick from the many open slips which was also nice! We soon were backed in at C-13 and our buddy Jamal had us quickly plugged in to shorepower......... only thing left to "do" was to head on down to the beach bar/restaurant which is now called "Teaser's", where we had to pick from the non-conch items as the conch man was late with his daily delivery! Oh well, it was go-with-the-flow!

On Thurs/Fri/Sat we had to deal with some rainy and cloudy days, but we also worked around that as well. Here's our dock looking back to the seawall on the first afternoon. We were down a few slips on the left.

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That night, we had dinner up at "Bonefish Folley's" right there at the Marina. They have an excellent menu and we enjoyed all of our dinners there. First night it was a stone crab claw appetizer and we split a lobster/shrimp pasta dish. "Bonefish Foley" himself was a famous fishing guide and his former client list even included Richard Nixon! The entire dining room looks down on the south dock where all the big boats dock. The dining room is filled with old photos of the greater West End area going back 50 years or more.

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Friday was more of the same. Sleep in, wander down to Teaser's for a late breakfast on the beach, overlooking The Little Bahama Bank. They had the place decorated with flags, etc for the weekend-long stuff that they had organized for our July 4th celebration........ very nice!

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And sure enough, by about 11am that Friday, the boats pulling in to clear Customs were almost never-ending! Notice the line of people outside the Customs Office and the rafted up boats. Yeah, nice to slide in a day early!

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Down the dock from us was the big trawler "Miles Aweigh" and this looked like a pretty awesome place to "hang out" during happy hour!

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Also on our dock were three Grady-Whites with these custom designed swim/dive platforms. They can be set up to lift up when the motors are tilted out of the water! The guy that owns this 33 designed them....

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On most afternoons, the "Conch Mon" as I nicknamed him, would pass through the Marina, offering fresh, cleaned conch for sale. I told them to check with me on Sunday afternoon!

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Dinner that night at Bonefish Folley's was steaks for both of us and trust me, they were good! We'd usually stop for a drink at the bar there with our new friend Colby Rolle serving us up! He's live entertainment for sure! :beer

Saturday, we headed back to Teaser's for lunch and luckily, the conch had been delivered! I ordered a Conch Burger and Jenn ordered Cracked Conch. We have known most of the staff there for a few years, so I popped in to see Jessie "The Goddess of Conch" and Donna do their magic. Check out that mallet for tenderizing our conch!

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Okay, here's her recipe! Tenderize it as shown, drop it in some egg and milk wash, drip off excess, then into a bowl with just flour and cracker meal! I asked about any special seasoning and she "claimed" none. Drop in hot oil.......... that's it!

Wow, another great meal and I had to pop in to the tiny kitchen there at Teaser's to say "Thanks"! It was nap time for sure after that!!

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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    When we had arrived, we had heard about a Street Festival right in the village of West End for Saturday evening and we were excited to get a chance to see that. OBB was going to have a van to provide us with rides and we were very anxious to go see what they had going on as we enjoy getting into the "real" parts of the places that we visit. But first we started the day off with a nice, late breakfast at Bonefish Folley's and for my first time ever, I had Stewed Conch! It's tenderized and then cooked with onions and peppers and a flavorful gravy and served over either toast or grits. It was so damned good that I wiped the bowl dry with leftover toast!

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    Later that afternoon (after a post Stewed Conch nap down in the cool cabin!) we walked the docks a bit and ran into this boat. Jenn's originally from New Zealand and we later had a long chat with this guy who's slowly restoring this 1987, 45 Viking that's based in the Canaveral area. He was originally from Wellington, NZ, their nation's capital. Wellington itself is a very fun city!

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    Around 5pm, we caught a ride into the village which mostly is along the shoreline just east of OBB about a mile. We got there in time to see the "Legends Marching Band" and they put on a great show for us all!

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    In the inside of the hurricane-gutted, roofless green building in the photo above, they had stalls set up for arts and crafts kinds of things as well as some food & drink vendors. I think that the building used to be a hotel and the now, open air "lobby" was used for a short, but powerful church/youth group to put on a play and that was followed by a fashion show! We spent about 2 hours there total and really enjoyed mingling with the locals! Those are the food vendors and the little, roofless, beige building in the middle was the "bar"! I had a nice chat there with a gentleman who was born in West End in 1938!

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    OBB has bikes that you can use for free (down at the Teaser's/Pool area) and I encourage folks to ride into town in you ever have a lay day there. We did that two years ago and enjoyed a nice lunch at "Coffee On The Bay".......

    That night (Sat) we enjoyed a nice "July 4th" buffet dinner at Bonefish Folley's as we just sat at the bar and chatted with our bartender buddy, Colby. A nice way to end a very fun day.

    For our last day, the skies finally cleared so after an early lunch at Teaser's, we made our way down to the beach and finally ending up in the amazing pool there at Old Bahama Bay. While on the beach, I may/may not have entered into some "commerce" with the Conch Mon! They sometimes pull into the beach at Teaser's to clean the day's catch........

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    Here's the beach! The use of kayaks, glass-bottomed kayaks, a Hobi-Cat, etc is all complimentary.

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    Grabbing a drink, we soon were hanging out in this incredible pool!

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    Back at the dock, I wanted to catch up with another conch mon and he's the guy who makes conch salad right on his boat! You put in your order and in 20 minutes, come back to pick it up! In my case it was two bowls! How "fresh" is this?????

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    For our last dinner, we again went for the really good steaks! Jenn's had a gorgonzola topping and mine was with a merlot sauce........ The Kalik Gold was nice too!

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    That night, they even put on a small "Junkanoo" for all of us! The band (mostly people from the Legends Marching Band that we had seen in town the night before), put on the colorful costumes and playing along the Marina and then headed down to Teaser's. It's always a treat to see this rare glimpse into Bahamian culture.

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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    Also on Sunday, we walked the docks again and these guys did very well with the hog snappers! Later, they had the deep fryer going on the transom of the boat! :Rockon

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    We were docked up next to this 42 Hydra-Sports with triple, 350 Yammies on the stern! Some really great folks too that we hung out with a bit!

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    This gorgeous boat made me think about our very own "Venturesome"....

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    With our custom "bow Bimini" keeping the cabin in the shade, we had a cool place to chill out during the days and a quiet cabin at night when the rains came! We got blasted on Friday night and of course, the power went out all over. You never know how long those outages will last, so I fired up the 5kw genset, flipped some switches to get the Air Cond back on line and went back to bed!

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    Here's a custom built, 41 foot "Fitz" powered by twin 540 diesels..... "The Last Papaya"! She'll cruise at 40 knots and has a huge cockpit as you can see. The nice family of 4 slept down in the cabin! We have chatted with these nice folks on previous visits.

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    The rooms here are amazing from what I've heard. We noticed a lot more center consoles this year so perhaps with their lower room/dock rates they are attracting more business...... good for them!

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    We've visited and/or stayed at a LOT of Marinas in many places in the world and Old Bahama Bay still ranks up there as our favorite one of all! The people there are so friendly, the grounds, etc are always perfect, the Marina itself is great and having Customs, the Fuel Dock, two bars and restaurants right there, make it so convenient. We hope to return again and again!

    http://www.oldbahamabay.com/marina/overview.htm


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  • dolfanjoeydolfanjoey Posts: 1,174 Officer
    That was one great report and it looks like you had a great time.
  • JerseaGirlJerseaGirl Posts: 14 Greenhorn
    Awesome pics! Awesome trip! OBB is my favorite place to relax when im not fishing hard.
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    Thanks guys, we had a blast there as usual!

    For those who might not know "where" West End and Old Bahama Bay is located, West End is the village that is out on the far "west end" of Grand Bahama Island which is most well known for the Freeport/Lucaya area on it. Entering the basin at Old Bahama Bay is straight in from the ocean and is well marked.

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    West End is only 56 nm due east of Palm Beach and is an easy shot from as far south as the northern Keys or as far north as the Port Canaveral area.

    Here's a cool map that shows West End and why it is a great place to begin a trip on to the Walkers Cay/Grand Cay area as well as all of The Abacos.

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    For those who might press on from OBB to the greater Abacos, you'd probably enter The Little Bahama Bank through the somewhat tricky, Indian Cay Channel. Following the waypoints from The Dodge Cruising Guide to Abaco is a must. Here, we see a boat club of fairly large cabin cruiser making their way slowly through the somewhat shallow channel. We counted 14 boats total...... most likely following the leader! I took this photo on Monday morning as we had one last breakfast at Teaser's before we shoved off for home. This looks out across the bank to the north......... Oh yeah, I had Stewed Conch again for breakfast and this time it was made with some potato chunks as well! Yummy!

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  • SloughSlough S.w. Ga./ St. JamesPosts: 5,317 Admiral
    Great Great report and pics, THANKS for sharing :beer
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you
  • GT FishGT Fish Posts: 9,448 Officer
    Thanks Gary love your reports and pics!
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  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    Very nice trip G mon! We've had many a great night at OBB. Great shots
  • monkeybusinessjrmonkeybusinessjr Posts: 380 Deckhand
    Great report! I really need to get back over there as I haven't been since 1988 during the old Jack Tar days. It was heaven for a 16 year old.
  • VenturesomeVenturesome Posts: 1,743 Officer
    great report gary. love all the pics. thanks for throwing Venturesome's cousin in there too. Any tuna reports while you were there ???
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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    Any tuna reports while you were there ???

    Some guys were running south off of Freeport and getting "some" but I never saw any being cleaned anywhere. Never heard of anything big either..... seems like most of the boats were running north for bottom fishing and a lot were spearing.....

    I helped the 34 Venture folks dock up and when I asked the 8-9 y/o little boy where they had all just come in from, he thought about it for a few seconds and then announced, "America"!!
  • 2amigo2amigo Posts: 5,755 Admiral
    A little more detail next time. ;) :beer
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    I haven't been since 1988 during the old Jack Tar days. It was heaven for a 16 year old.

    My first trip ever to the Bahamas on a boat was in 1985 right there to the old Jack Tarr Village. We stayed aboard my ex-father-in-law's 40 Chris-Craft on the east wall. The 550 room Hotel was a few minutes walk farther east to about where the OBB pool is now. Notice the changes in what you see along the entire shore line as you approached West End back then! All of those trees are now GONE!

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    There were two entrance channels back then, one for the marina basin (the basin is the very same today!) and one for commercial shipping. The Marina channel was down a tree-lined canal that opened up to this view. This looks directly at the south wall/dock and the small building there housed the Dockmaster's Office as well as a small self-serve laundromat! I called home on the outside pay phone there while getting eaten alive by the morning/evening no-see-ums there! It now houses Bonefish Folley's and some shops and has been expanded. The old fuel dock was to the right in this photo, right where it is today!

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    This photo is from 1992-93 when I was a mate on a few private charters with my then, father-in-law. That's our crew and we all walked out the jetty of the Marina entrance channel (to the right in the photo), to see a sailboat that had called out a "May Day" on VHF 16 when she broke loose from her anchor and drifted in on some rocks. That's a very young "Vida Blue" Hepburn in the dark blue to the right. He ran a taxi then and had brought our guests out from Freeport/Lucaya that morning. You can see a bit of the old hotel off to the left in the background.

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    Here's a guy who looks amazingly like a 30 y/o version of me on the east seawall and with that long line of tall, Australian Pines that ran along the seawall. They'd shed like crazy all over your boat! Behind me is about where the Exercise Room building is now......

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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    2amigo wrote: »
    A little more detail next time. ;) :beer

    Yeah, sorry........ this is what happens when you match up a LOT of free time with a LOT of photos! ;-}
  • 001001 Posts: 4,292 Captain
    Looks like it was an awesome trip. Mr. Conch stopped by our boat soliciting his catch of the day when we stopped there for the night on our way to Cat Island. He had the best deal throught the Bahamas our whole trip, 48 conch for $40. He must have his own conch ranch out there.

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    Losing power in the Bahamas isn't any fun when you need it. While in Cat we took the truck to town. We didn't have enough gas to get to town and back, so we stopped by the gas station to top off. The power was out, so the pumps weren't working. The did not have their hand pump installed yet on thier pony tank either. Luckily we only waited 45 minutes for the power to come back on.

    Keep the great posts coming.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    as always, thanks for the report and pictures.


  • Buccanr1Buccanr1 Posts: 437 Deckhand
    Good Report, we made it to the village when the band was on the way back. (South or East). I took the golf cart down to the docks but it was pretty late, maybe next time.
  • isla21isla21 Posts: 2,115 Officer
    who needs the Dodge cruising guide when you can take all of the photos you have posted and use them to navigate! Awesome trip with even better stories and pics. Thanks for sharing. Already looking forward to the next trip:beer
  • dragon baitdragon bait Posts: 8,966 Admiral
  • TheFreediverTheFreediver Key BiscaynePosts: 70 Deckhand
    great trip
    I design a plataform like that, but never found who can build it.
    will love to talk to that grady white owner.
    Very nice trip
    Boat Name: TEIKIRISI (tei'k-i't-i'zi)
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  • FS BlairFS Blair Posts: 1,787 Admin
    Thanks for sharing. The JT photos brought back memories from my first trip over in '85. I hope to go across this weekend, I hear the tuna are snapping.
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    FS Blair wrote: »
    Thanks for sharing. The JT photos brought back memories from my first trip over in '85.

    I wasn't there, but my father-in-law was there in 1988 when the hotel caught fire. This was the beginning of how we ended up with an all-new resort. The hotel closed after the fire and I was able to walk around the gutted grounds in 1992-93. The marina was not damaged by the fire and has remained opened throughout as it's an "Official Port-of-Entry". The basic marina basin is the same and the small dockside bathrooms on the east wall is the same basic structure, although updated.

    Here's what the fire looked like from some of my father-in-laws photos.....

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  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,737 Captain
    Gary, you really should think about writing travel guides for the Bahamas. Your attention to detail mixed with history and anecdotes make for a interesting and informative reading.

    BTW - I was going to give you a call this week to see how the trip went, but now there's no need. Your report took me there!
  • Captain DaveCaptain Dave Posts: 3,392 Captain
    What a OBB tutorial for anyone who hasn't been yet. Me thinks Old Bahama Bay may have you on the payroll. ; ) Nice write-up Gary!
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  • oldtimeroldtimer Posts: 529 Officer
    Nice report, and photos to remind us all of the other non fishing side of staying at OBB
  • nuevowavonuevowavo Posts: 6,820 Admin
    Gary M wrote: »
    For those who might press on from OBB to the greater Abacos, you'd probably enter The Little Bahama Bank through the somewhat tricky, Indian Cay Channel. Following the waypoints from The Dodge Cruising Guide to Abaco is a must. Here, we see a boat club of fairly large cabin cruiser making their way slowly through the somewhat shallow channel.

    We've taken that route from West End to the Abacos a few times. A real white-nuckler at low tide, especially with a 4' draft, but the Dodge waypoints were spot on!
    Another great report and pics, G-Mon. Thanks!
    Federales, bring my baby back to me!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,214 AG
    nuevowavo wrote: »
    Another great report and pics, G-Mon. Thanks!

    Hope that I posted enough food photos for you and Venturesome! I can't believe that I left the camera on the boat the first night at dinner when we had the two, big, beautifully displayed stone crab claws! ;-{
  • copout@castaways[email protected] Posts: 5,779 Admiral
    wow! thanks for taking me on a tour of your trip!
  • privateer19privateer19 Posts: 439 Deckhand
    Gary, you really should think about writing travel guides for the Bahamas. Your attention to detail mixed with history and anecdotes make for a interesting and informative reading.

    I have agree, all of your reports are extremely detailed and do make you long for the Bahamas. Thanks again.
  • N2naclh20N2naclh20 Posts: 286 Deckhand
    Great report and photos, those old ones really bring back some memories, I'll have to dig out some old ones as well. The Australian pines really were nice there, too bad they're all gone.
    There is no greater passion than that of a fisherman.
    Avatar photo: Grandparents and my Dad at Blowing Rocks, Jupiter 1923.
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