Sunday, 8 April 2012

Nassau to Highbourne Cay and Norman's Cay

We headed out of Nassau Harbour quite early, planning to refuel on the way out. Unfortunately we ran into one of those problems that we residents of the First World have to come to terms with – the fuel dock was out of diesel. OK, we had plenty to get us the thirty nautical miles across the Yellow Bank to the Exumas, even if we had to motor all the way – which we did, directly into a light south-easterly wind all the way to Highbourne Cay. The Yellow Banks are a shallow area with lots of coral heads, but happily these are easy to spot in the crystal clear water.

Highbourne Cay was a welcome sight as we passed a bevy of luxury megayachts and entered the marina’s fuel dock. Clearly the fuel prices reflect the cost of transport to isolated places , and the fact that most of the clientele can well afford it - $5.90 a gallon for diesel – ouch! We could only afford an icecream and a couple of grapefruit at the store. Some cruisers we met later on said that those who stay at Highbourne all ‘have a mate for that’ when it comes to unpleasant tasks like carrying the dog ashore for a poop. The anchorage just south of the marina was lovely, however. I snorkelled over to the beach and collected a few legal size conch on the way, but had second thoughts and put them back. I didn’t really know how to crack or prepare them, and besides, they all looked at me with their beady little stalk eyes.

The next day we dinghied over to a gorgeous deserted beach at Oyster Cay for a swim.

Just for comparison, here’s the beach at Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, during Spring Break!

Next stop on the journey south was Norman’s Cay, a pretty island with a dubious history as the centre of Carlos Lehder’s cocaine empire. All that remains of the high times of the 1980s are a plane wreck in the bay and a row of derelict buildings, some with bullet holes in the walls. Lehder is serving several life terms in US Federal prison, and Normans is now home to a very pleasant little bar and restaurant, some chalets and a small airfield. The couple of nights we spent at anchor here were a bit rough and rolly, with a westerly wind against the currents through Norman’s Cut – there were times when every single boat in the anchorage was pointing in a different direction -  but we couldn’t see too many alternatives.

Next passage will be a longish one down to Black Point, then we plan to head back up to Staniel Cay and to Warderick Wells in the National Land and Sea Park for a few days. Internet is intermittent, so we’ll be in touch whenever we can. Love to everyone – hope those in WA are enjoying some beautiful autumn weather and a safe and happy Easter.

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