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Posted By Robin & Jim

The weather finally settled enough for us to travel the remaining 75 miles to the northern end of the Exuma chain - where we plan to spend most of the next two months exploring.  Here's a map showing the Exumas, and I'm writing this on Friday, 30 April from Highbourne Cay.  Tomorrow we're heading down to Normans and we hope to find some wifi there so we can connect to the Internet - update this neglected blog, and catch up with friends and family.

exuma map

We've encountered a lot of boats leaving the Bahamas, heading back to the US after spending the winter over here.  It's a shame - the weather is finally starting to get nice, but we hope that means fewer boats around since we like more remote, quiet places.  We ran into a DeFever 44 (ELIZABETH ANN) we know coming out of Nassau, and we made plans to get together when we're passing through Annapolis later this summer.  We cut through Nassau harbor - a very busy place with three cruise ships in port, various mail boats destined for many of the islands, pleasure craft, and fishing boats.  On the east side we turned south through Yellow Bank, where the chart shows lots of scattered coral heads that we must steer around.  It turns out to be pretty easy in broad daylight - the coral is very black, and can be seen at a distance.  The chart looks pretty daunting, though!  We planned to anchor off Allen's Cay (pronounced "key"), but it was full of sailboats so we headed down to Highbourne Cay just to the south for a few days.   Next to Allen's is Leaf Cay, home to some interesting iguanas, which come to the beach when boats arrive, hoping for a hand-out. 

allens iguanas

We dinked around to the east side of the island and hiked to the top, where the iguanas were a little less spoiled. 

iguana face

It takes some getting used to, zipping around in our dinghy at high speed, with rocks, coral, and shallows all around.  We're probably better at reading the water than we think, but we're taking it cautiously for now.  We've gone snorkeling a few times the last two days, finding some healthy patch reefs not far from the anchorage with lots of fish, encrusting sponges, and coral.  This is a furry sea cucumber (all rolled up) that Jim was holding.

snorkel jim

May 1 - we moved 10 nm down to Normans Cay – VERY pretty!  Went exploring in the dinks for snorkeling spots and found really small patches of coral that are healthy and full of life.  Saw two lionfish on one of these tiny patches – very sad. Dinked around the south end and up into the basin to snorkel the wrecked DC-3 airplane from the island's days as a drug haven. 
We stopped at the “Normans Cay Beach Club” with MacDuff's Restaurant – two or three little brightly painted houses right next to the airstrip and the beach (closed on Mondays).  MacDuff's supposedly has internet, but it wasn't working today.  “It was struck by lightning and we need to send it to Nassau for repair” was the explanation, but no one seemed in a hurry to do so.


 
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