We finally made it to the Exumas a couple of weeks ago and are loving it. This is what we envisioned when we thought about cruising. The Exumas are an island chain ~120 miles long and southeast of Nassau. The weather is typically perfect, the water is a beautiful turquoise blue, it is easy to island hop, and the snorkeling is amazing.
Our first stop in the Exumas was Allans Cay. The island is known for its iguanas and boy did we “meet” them. We headed in with our dinghy and went to explore the ruins of an old house. We brought a pink pool noodle just in case the iguanas got a too little close. Boy, did they get close…one extremely large iguana thought the noodle was food and started taking bites out of it and chasing us. As we were making our escape, I slipped and scraped my toes and lost a chunk of my toenail. Luckily, the rest of the crew remained unscathed and with a slightly shorter pool noodle we successfully scurried back to the safety of our dinghy.
We were stuck in a very tight and shallow anchorage for a couple of days due to some strong winds. After a couple of bounces on the bottom and a sleepless night for Trent, we headed south.
After a lovely, albeit slow, sail to Normans, we were excited about our new spot. We were anchored across from a large expanse of beach, a nice change from the rocks and iguanas of Allans. Murphy has become a pretty good snorkeling companion and swam from our boat to the beach. He was ecstatic at the chance to stretch his legs and frolic.
Normans Cay has an interesting history with Carlos Lehder, a drug smuggler for the Medellin Cartel. He used the island to move large amounts of cocaine into the US in the late 70s and early 80s and it is said that he revolutionized drug smuggling. After watching two seasons of Narcos and reading the book Turning the Tide, Trent and I were intrigued.
We spent a day with some friends (Sailing the Kraken) checking out the island. We saw the “famous” sunken airplane from the Carlos Lehder days. We explored the pond, an area where hammerhead sharks gather to mate, although the mating season isn’t until April. Then we rounded the north side of the island and finally found some good snorkeling. That evening we headed to MacDuffs, which is a really cool bar and restaurant. After dinner, we had a bonfire on the beach and meet some other fellow cruisers. All in all, it was a great day.
With a slight hangover, we pulled the anchor and headed on our way. We didn’t continue south and instead backtracked to the north to Highbourne Cay Marina. I needed to do some work and there is no BTC (cell tower) at Normans or south through the Exuma Land and Sea Park. So we motored up to Highbourne and decided to splurge for a night at the marina.
The marina at Highbourne is absolutely gorgeous. It is pricey, but really nice and well worth it for a day or two (we didn’t connect to power or water, which saves quite a bit). They have free bicycles to tour the island with, a playground on the beach, a Maui Mat, a market and gorgeous views. We only planned on spending one night at the marina and then we were going to move to the north anchorage, but Henry woke up with the stomach flu. We spent the day washing sheets, working and generally laying low. Have I mentioned how much I miss my washer and dryer?!
The next day, Henry was on the mend and after a hike to the island “Spring”, we were on our way. With more rough weather expected we headed to the north side of the island and tucked into Horseshoe Bay. I still had a few days of work before we headed into the no cell service zone, so Horseshoe Bay provided great holding and protection from the bad weather, good snorkeling, and strong cell service. The basic requirements of a great anchorage.
We spent a couple days hunkered down, I finished up some work and were ready to continue our journey south. The weather looked decent and we took off. But as luck would have it weather reports aren’t always accurate! More details on the next post.