|The Adventures of
Nassau Allans Cay Highborne Cay Normans Cay
Favourite price samples: :
Normans Cay, Mc Duffs
cheeseburgers $6.50, Beer $4.00 ( happy hour from 4-7 p.m. beer (local only) Kalik $2.50
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(Occasionally, editorial comments from Don of S/V Destiny Calls, host of this web site and southern waters frequenter, will appear in green italic)
Well the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
and since we've no place to go
let it blow, let it blow , let it blow
I am sure that you are all hearing this old favourite, on the radio, or in the stores....but what is that last line... let it blow and not let it snow . Lets talk a bit about weather...whether you like it or whether you dont, weather is very important down here. Some people live by it and some even die by it. It has been blowing stink ever since we left Nassau on November 30th, with an average 20 knots (that's 38 KPH for you nautically challenged) with the occasional day at 30 knots (57 KPH) We have had a stationary front for the past 5 days...that means unsettled weather(it is now Dec 8th) and the whole day has been miserable....but I will get to that later.
We arrived at Allans Cay after a four hour motor sail, (remember Cay is pronounced key). As we headed down we could hear on the VHF radio, conversations between boats who also had Alllans as their destination. Not knowing how full it was going to be, we scooted along.
These three islands that lie to the southeast of Nassau are deserted except for iguanas, and trained iguanas I might add. They have pavlovian reflexes...whenever they hear a dinghy or even a seaplane approaching they all gather on the beach and do a little dance so that they can get a reward of lettuce...that is their preferred food , along with grapes...no limes please. As the humans gather, so do the iguanas, arriving and forming a chorus line, and waiting for their cue to perform. The leader of the group will stick his tongue out (that is how they smell) to gauge how much lettuce will be paid out for their show....more lettuce ....more show. I have seen acrobatics ...as the humans would hold the lettuce just above an iguana, teasing him(or her) to perform the dance of the leaping lizards . With lettuce held high the iguanas would be forced to jump up for their treat, sometimes snapping at the humans fingers. After a while the humans get bored and respond pavlovian like to beer cans being opened and return to their boats. Other than that there isn't a whole hell of a lot to do here, except maybe go for a walk on the beach, snorkel on a little reef nearby, and maybe catch your supper of lobster or snapper....but remember it is blowing like ....oh never mind there are children reading this.
We had spent three night at anchor being tossed about by Mother Nature and decided it was time for a well deserved decent nights sleep.
Off to Highborne Cay, just a short sail down from Allans. This is a private Island with a well protected harbour. The surroundings are nothing less than magnificent, with one of the longest beaches to be found in the Bahamas. Here again long walks on dedicated trails lead you around to the various beaches and sights to be found ...they even have a bus stop for those that are weary , and a spring where you can relax. If it is excitement you are looking for, you can find it by going for a swim. Bryan Daly , the son of a friend , requested pictures of sea creatures, well we had a nurse shark hang around our boat the whole time we were there....anyone for a dip?
With barnacles threatening to attach themselves it was time to untie and head out to Normans Cay. With our mainsail finally hoisted, we made quicktime to Normans in 20 knot winds. Getting to the anchorage though is not an easy feat. Not having any decent chart of the island, Janette piloted our way through using a guide book and instinct. She really did a wonderful job in a very stressful situation, avoiding the shoals and bringing us close to the beach. We anchored near another boat with two anchors out. After waiting a while we were sure we were settled. And we then relaxed. We visited the only restaurant , offering grill fare with fries. We had lunch there the next day- 2 cheeseburgers ( $6.50 each) and 2 beers ($4.00 each), lunch was tasty and costly, but where else is there to spend money. Jim went over for Thursdays happy hour from 4-7 pm beer (local only) Kalik was $2.50 only, and the bar grill was full -15 people. A real crowd!!!
Normans Cay also has a colourful past. In the late seventies and early eighties it was a major transhipment point of cocaine coming from South America to North America, A 3000 foot runway was built that could accommodate various cargo planes carrying the contraband. It must have been a hectic lifestyle for Carlos Leherer the kingpin of this operation, for he, had 2 houses built on a nearby Island so he could get away from the hustle and bustle of cocaine delivery.
The pilots of these planes also had a rough time occasionally. There are the remains of a C-46 cargo plane in the lagoon. One version of the event was given to me by Dale, the co-owner of McDuffs, the one and only bar here. It seems the plane was suffering from a damaged landing gear, so instead of tying up the only runway, they decided to ditch the plane. Planes were a dime a dozen.....but there was only one runway.
Till the next instalment.
Jim and Janette
Well done! They're in the Exumas and some of the best sailing grounds in the world! And I get this happy update on the eve of the first snow storm of the year. (Self pity.)
I have been to the Exumas many many times and even written for magazines about their crystal clear waters and friendly natives. I have fond memories of all the times Joni and I have spent there and I remember the winds.
It blows like stink all winter down in the Bahamas! I mean BLOWS!
First time visitors to a man come back in the spring saying the exact same words "We were there for the windiest winter they've had in years!" Friends and relatives then draw fake sympathy and nod their heads saying to themselves that they wish they'd been there for the windiest themselves rather than another shitty winter shovelling snow.
Let you guys in on a secret, in fact EVERY winter in the Bahamas is windy! I mean really really windy. Fronts roll on down from the north every three or four days and bring a blast of cool air that'll clean the decks off even the saltiest of craft.
There are some winters where the average may go from 22.3 knots average to 22.6 (I have no idea what the real average daytime wind speed is but you get the idea), but the fact is that you'd better be ready to sail, anchor and dinghy in a stiff breeze or you ain't going very far.
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