A Boater’s Paradise – Boat Rental Advice
Everyone who visits Elbow Cay should take advantage of the beautiful surrounding waters and neighboring islands. Fantastic snorkeling, outstanding fishing, pristine beaches, charming harbours, and interesting communities are within a safe and easy boat ride. One does not have to be an old salt – navigation is “eyeball” simple and hazards few. Abaco Sound, the body of water between the outer islands and the larger Great Abaco Island, is well protected and rarely rough. Excellent published guides are available, and rental boat companies typically provide excellent charts and advice.
A frequent question is “What boat should I rent?” and the answer is “Rent as large a boat as you can.” Don’t skimp in this department. A few extra dollars spent on a larger boat is almost always worth the enhanced enjoyment of your trip. If your experience is limited or with smaller boats, don’t be daunted. Most all of your docking or anchoring will be in protected waters or harbours, and boat size won’t make much difference. However, when the gang packs all the snorkel gear, coolers, and beach bags – and invites some newfound friends along – you’ll be glad to have the extra space and capacity. A larger boat will also be more comfortable in a greater variety of conditions, and allow you to travel farther without worry. Most of what you will encounter will be wind chop on the sound, and a larger boat is less affected. You would be hard pressed, in a 23’ to 27’ boat, to encounter any conditions in the sound that would be uncomfortable or remotely dangerous.
Calypso’s favorite boat is an Albury, built on the neighboring island of Man-O-War and optimized for the local waters. They ride great, are well designed, and are built like tanks. Island Marine, located just outside the Hope Town harbour entrance on Parrot Cay, is our preferred boat rental agent, and has the largest fleet of exceptionally well maintained boats. Their customer service is also outstanding. (Calypso renters qualify for a 10% discount on weekly rentals.) The 20’Albury is comfortable for 4-6 people, but is a little tender – meaning it is a bit sensitive to weight distribution and tends to lean to the side. On a windy day, the ride can be slightly uncomfortable, but tolerable. The 23’ Albury is a real workhorse, and ideal for 6-10 people, or as many as 12 in a pinch. With lots of seats and storage, it swallows people and gear. The ride is stable and minimally affected by weight distribution or wind chop on the sound. The 27’ Albury is a beast – in a good way- able to handle just about any weather conditions without worry, and a Calypso houseful with all the gear imaginable. The twin engines are remarkably fuel efficient.
There are two other companies of note. Sea Horse Boat Rentals, based on Hope Town and Marsh Harbour, also has Albury boats available. Cat’s Paw, located in Hope Town harbour, has a small fleet or 4 boats and is worth a try for a short term and/or convenient rental.
There are other companies located in Marsh Harbour, but if you are at the end of a long travel day and the sound is windy, carting your people and luggage across the sound may be a challenge, and wet. Also be aware that it’s a long run around the point from the rental companies on the east side of Marsh Harbour, within the actual harbour, to Elbow Cay.
Regardless of which boat you rent, you’ll be glad you took advantage of one of the greatest attractions of the area!