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Destinations To Die For: Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas

Top-Shelf Toodlin' | April


Jeffery Salter

Man-O-War offers service facilities, great hospitality, and protected anchorages.

My roots are in runabouts—I've built a few, owned more, and enjoyed 'em all. So I was plenty excited as photographer Jeffery Salter and I strolled over to Sea Horse Boat Rentals at Abaco Beach Resort's marina in Marsh Harbour. It was April, the sky was blue, the clear waters of Abaco Sound were green, and we had some free time on our hands. The plan? Rent a 22-foot Boston Whaler and do some exploring, maybe even zip over to Man-O-War Cay, a spot neither of us had visited before.

After charging the $220 day rate to my AmEx (yikes!), the guy at Seahorse gave me a rough-and-ready chart, explained how to take "the longer but more scenic route" to open water, and handed over the keys. Salter and I were onboard with the engine fired up and gear stowed in about two shakes of a frigate bird's tail.

It took 15 minutes to run the six or seven miles north across the Sound to Man-O-War. We arrived by carving a big, dramatic, high-speed turn close to nearby Garden Cay and whooshing to a stop about 300 yards from the entrance channel. (I may be 60 years old, but I haven't given up all my precious immaturity...not by a long shot.)


Tote bags from Albury Sail Shop are tops!

Cruising the pass that leads into North Harbor was pure ecstacy. For me, there simply is nothing better to do in the world than glide through a small, palm-shaded, watery place in a small, open boat, waving at folks afloat, and anticipating all the sights to be seen once you've found a piling to tie up to. Add to this weather that's flat-out perfect, and folks, we're talkin' fun on the half shell! Man-O-War itself is cool and quiet. Moreover, perhaps because local folks are direct descendants of Carolina Loyalists from American Revolutionary War times, it has a Bermuda-esque flavor. Accents are faintly British, the pace of life's cheery and, by Bahamian standards, brisk, and the little houses and shops, arranged within a lattice of tiny blacktop streets, are crisply maintained.

We secured our Whaler at Man-O-War Marina and rented a golf cart. Tourist stuff ensued, of course. We bought canvas bags for our significant others from the ladies behind the ancient sewing machines in the Albury Sail Shop, admired a gorgeous skiff in for repair at Albury Brothers Boats, and hit Man-O-War Hardware to examine the marine merchandise.

But it was idling out of the harbor at sunset that precipitated my second blip of ecstasy. While the shadows were much longer this time, the outboard purred just as quietly, the scenery was just as delightful, and the breeze seemed just as redolent of salt and warm, tropical exoticism.

So listen, there's nothing wrong with checking out Man-O-War by motoryacht this April—it's a great idea, in fact. But factor your dinghy or some other small, open boat into the equation somehow. And take a ride. Every darn day you're there.

Destinations To Die For

January: Plymouth Harbor, Dominica
February: The Spanish Virgin Islands
March: Mazatlan, Mexico
April: Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas
May: Southport, North Carolina
June: Greenport, New York
July: New York, New York
August: Penobscot Bay, Maine
September: Block Island, Rhode Island
October: Panama City, Florida
November: Key West, Florida
December: Staniel Cay, Bahamas

This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.