Report from the Bahamas : Update on Grand Bahama Yacht Club, Port Lucaya – April 2016
The Grand Bahama Yacht Club is to starboard after you come through the Bell Channel into Port Lucaya. It had been closed for several years, but has now reopened. It is owned by the same company which owns the Port Lucaya Marina, which is to port after you enter the harbor. This year we used Port Lucaya as a layover on our way to the outer Family Islands, and decided to try the Grand Bahama Yacht Club again. It was an excellent experience.
Grand Bahama Yacht Club, Port Lucaya
The Yacht Club is a much quieter, more refined place than the busy and touristy Port Lucaya Marina and Marketplace. The grounds are well maintained, with large lawns. Five foot long tarpon and spotted rays regularly swam under the boat. There is a beautiful pool, with a small poolside bar and restaurant; sturdy, well-fendered concrete docks; 24 hour security; washers and (a) dryer; clean but older bathrooms and showers; good power and wi-fi. Jazz night on Thursdays, with live music. The dockmasters, Fabian and Aaron, are both just excellent, as is the entire staff. They will do – or arrange for – whatever you need to make your stay a good one. The published rates are $2.20 a foot, but if you intend to stay longer than a couple of days, we urge you to discuss with the dockmaster an outstanding monthly promotional monthly rate which runs through the end of 2016. There is a mandatory $10 a day water charge, and the electricity is metered at 60 cents per KWH. They can arrange for a reasonably priced rental car. There is an excellent Solomon’s Fresh Market about two miles away, and if you schedule with the marina ahead of time, they will take you there and pick you up.
Pool area and bar, Grand Bahama Yacht Club, Port Lucaya
This marina would, in my view, qualify as a hurricane hole; there is not much fetch in any direction, the pilings are tall and the docks are solid. Much of the shoreline is natural vegetation. They run a free boat-shuttle service (a five minute trip) over to the Port Lucaya Marina and Marketplace, where you can clear through Customs and Immigration, or visit the restaurants and shops. At the Marketplace, the nice-little-Italian-restaurant “Cappuccinos” is one of our favorites, with excellent pastas and a great early-bird special. One of the highest rated restaurants in the Bahamas – and the Carribbean, is “Flying Fish”, adjacent to the Marketplace. It is very expensive, but it was the best restaurant meal we’ve had anywhere in ten years. Some local Bahamian friends go there for happy hour and their excellent appetizers, offered most evenings.
The Customs and Immigration process at Port Lucaya is generally painless and quick, as is the case at West End/Settlement Point – on Grand Bahama. When checking into the Bahamas, don’t forget to have your Cruising Permit endorsed for fishing and for spearfishing, which does not cost anything extra.
“Meander” at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club, Port Lucaya
The Bell Channel entry, according to the dockmaster carries 6.5’ at low tide, but having been through there a number of times, I think that is a conservative estimate. We came through at dead low on April 13, 2016, and never had actual depths less than 7’ from our two carefully calibrated depth finders. The general guidance is that there is more water on the east side of the channel. In a strong onshore wind, larger waves in the entrance channel could reduces depths. The channel is clearly marked, but be sure to start your approach into Bell Channel from the small offshore white buoy, to avoid the reefs.
The fuel dock is no longer located at the Port Lucaya marina; it was moved to the Grand Bahama Yacht Club. [See Bahamas Chatter by SALTY SOUTHEST CRUISERS’ NET PARTNER Explorer Chartbooks for fuel prices. Current 4/12/2016 prices: Diesel $3.34, Gas 3.94 VAT included on both.]
We rented a car and explored the island, including the interesting Lucayan National Park with its historic upland caves, creeks and marshes full of wildlife, and beautiful beaches. You can also explore the interesting Lucayan Waterway in your dinghy. There is much more to see on Grand Bahama than we had imagined.
In our view, while they are still refurbishing and updating this facility, it is well on its way to being a five star marina.