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Salt River

Historic site of Columbus’ 1493 landing. Mangrove forest and hurricane hole.

Entrance to Salt River

The entrance to Salt River is immediately pat the white roofs. Buck Island is in the far background left of center.

Columbus Cove

Snuggled next to the mangrove swamp, deep inside the inner harbor at Salt River, is Columbus Cove, a wonderful little bar and restaurant run by Sally and Hugh Bulkley. Hugh is also the dock master, the person you will probably talk to if you ring up the harbor on VHF 16. The restaurant is informal—al fresco—and the bar is friendly with reasonable prices.

Salt River

A hundred yards down the gravel road to the east, almost invisible to the casual observer, is a shipyard that builds big catamarans. I mean big, big cats, cats like the CHAMONIX II, a vessel launched in December of ’04 and certified to carry 108 passengers for day sails. The last time I was there I saw a huge hull being laid up and asked designer, Roger Hatfield, the size of the boat. I commented on how big the hull was. He looked at me, and simply said, “That’s not a hull, that’s the mast.”

Most of the time, they have to take down one wall of the plant in order to get the completed cat out of the factory. Gold Coast vessels are in service all over the world. Unfortunately, the factory does not give public tours as they are a busy yard with a full calendar. But everyone is friendly, and if you get the chance to poke your nose in the door, you’ll be amazed at the quality—and size—of vessels built in what can only be described as the boondocks. —J.R.

To reach the marina area, there is a very narrow east-west channel bordered on the south by a seawall and on the north by a mangrove forest.

Once past the mangroves, there is a small turning basin and an even smaller marina, with vessels moored bow or stern to the seawall and pilings.

Arrange ahead of time for mooring space, as the marina is usually full and turning a 50–foot singlescrew sailboat around in the small basin might be a chore.

Before entering the marina channel, call the marina on VHF 16 to see if there is a mooring.

Leaving Salt River

Heading out of Salt River.

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