West Bay vs. Nassau

Nassau, probably the most well known city in the Bahamas. Cruise ships dock there, and people fly in and out of the airport there. Along with land lubbers vacationing in the Bahamas, many cruisers feel the need to stop in Nassau as well. Provisions are significantly cheaper in Nassau when compared to the prices in other Bahamas islands, but with a big city comes a host of problems as well.

First of all, Nassau Harbor is small and busy! There are cruise ships, cargo ships, and commercial traffic transiting the narrow harbor all the time! Then you have all the pleasure boats that are coming through as well. It is so busy and tight in there that you have to radio Nassau Harbor Control before entering the harbor on CH 09, as well as radio them before moving from one spot to another! If you are anchored, you may need to move if Harbor Control deems it necessary.  

If the tight quarters wasn't bad, the holding is. There is a strong current that rips through the harbor and has swept away all the good sand, leaving behind a hard pack that is difficult for an anchor to penetrate. Your anchor might hold well, but the guy ahead of you might start dragging at any moment! 

Aside from the poor holding and crowded conditions, there is also the problem of crime. In cruising guides, it warns that boat theft is a prevalent problem, and being on your vessel is not a deterrent to the thieves.  

With the strong current, bad holding, crowded conditions, and risk of theft, we decided to approach Nassau from a different angle. We anchored in West Bay, on the western edge of New Providence Island (the island which Nassau is built on). Here, we have plenty of room, little current, and great holding. We are surrounded by a natural park and a golf club, so crime is a distant memory. We can access Nassau by cab or shuttle, without having to risk our boat in the process, and we can also detach ourselves from the busy city by not going there.  

If you need to stop in Nassau, consider anchoring somewhere else and simply traveling a few miles over land to get there instead of risking your floating home.