Sailing adventure: from Nassau to the Exumas

March 30, 2022
Team Coboaters

Sailing adventure: from Nassau to the Exumas

In this article, we follow Mojo’s sailing adventure from Nassau to the Exumas, in the Bahamas. Mojo is 38 feet catamaran of  liveaboard couple who agreed to share their voyage with us.

Do you want to find more about the start of their adventure? Read those blogs:

Life on board: destination Bahamas

Live a board a catamaran: Get ready!

The Sailing Adventure next step: Leaving Nassau

In our last article about our trip to the Bahamas, we dropped Phil, a great crew mate and founder of online sailing club  Coboaters.com off in Nassau.

Why did we have to stay longer in Nassau?

Unfortunately for us, Nassau became an extended stay as weather prevented us from moving on to the Exumas. We did spend some time on our boat and exploring the city, but we were not impressed. Outside of Paradise Island and one block of where the cruise ships come in, there is not much to see and the city was full of trash and blight. I am not sure where all of the revenue from tourism goes, but we did not see much city pride. We did nott explore the rest of the island though, so my opinion is not all that fair.

A view of Nassau Harbor. Two big cruise ships
A view of Nassau Harbor. Two big cruise ships
Powerboats in Nassau
Big Powerboats in Nassau harbor.

A necessity for the the sailing adventure to continue: House batteries replacement:

We also had to replace our house batteries. Luckily the local battery supplier did come through and set us up with six new golf cart batteries. While at Nassau, we met up with our friends and crew Mark and Carmella aboard their nice Island Packet 38 Linda Lee. I have known Mark for a while, we have cruised together in Rhode Island, Florida and most recently in the Berries. So, we did spend a good portion of our time socializing and planning our next sailing and boating trip: where to meet in the Exumas.

The Exumas: Our destination for this Bahamas sailing adventure

Like our time in the Berries, we want to spend most of our cruising time away from busy anchorages and settlements.

We know you cannot visit every cay here, and because it is winter here too, getting as far south as quickly as possible and then working our way north seems like a logical plan. Winter is not so bad here to be sure, but the northern Bahamas aka Abacos are on about the same latitude as mid Florida, so the temps can dip at times between December and February. The storms are also a bit fiercer up there in the winter.

Since Mark and Carmella only had a limited time before they needed to get back to Nassau, we chose to meet at Norman’s Cay, about 42nm from Nassau (about 7 hours at 6 knots). We try not to spend all our time traveling, and most days only want to be on the move less than 4 hours if we can. So, 50 miles is about our unofficial limit while here. We consider any longer to be in a delivery mode. Besides, we are not in a hurry and there are just too many beautiful places we would miss.

We finally got our weather window after a week, and off we went.

Boat leaving Nassau for another sailing adventure. Blue sky. Blue water
Our friend Mark leaving Nassau for another sailing adventure
Sunset view from the catamaran
Great sunset. Another reason to go ahead with this sailing voyage.
Sandy beached in the Bahamas
Sandy beach in the Bahamas

Crossing the Banks: sailing from Nassau to Exumas

This was my first time in the Bahamas and I had visions of coral reefs ripping my bottom out at every turn. To get to the Exumas from Nassau you must go through a gauntlet of coral banks. My crewmate and me chose to go through Yellow Bank as it is a direct line to Norman’s Cay. Everything you will read will tell you not to go through coral unless you can see it. If the sun is at the wrong angle, or it is overcast, or if the seas are running more than two feet, or, or… anyway, there is a clear (on the Explorer Charts) path where most of the coral and rocks will be deep enough for most boats to not have to worry about it.

Since we draw only one meter (3 feet), we do not have to worry in most cases. Regardless, I was still intimidated and Kim and I kept a close lookout going through, with no problems to report. The wind gods were not kind to us for this leg with 18-24 knots and 2-3 foot seas right on the nose, so we were a motorboat most of the way. The wind did finally veer more to the south early afternoon so we were able to sail. It was great for the boat and the crew members.

Sign with palm trees: Welcome to Normans cay. stopover for the sailing adventure
Norman’s cay: great spot for a sailing adventure

Norman’s Cay: A great Spot for a sailing adventure like ours

Th is at the northern end of the Exumas chain of Cays. There are several interesting Cays north of it, but we figured we would visit them on another trip or on our way back north. Besides, our goal was to get to the Land & Sea Park before Linda Lee needed to head back north.

Upon arriving at Norman’s Cay at about 1630, we found an empty anchorage just north of Skipjack Point on the southwest corner of the Cay. Although there was not a sandy beach on this side of Skipjack, it was beautiful none the less. After tiding up mojo and taking a refreshing swim we enjoyed our first Kaliks of the day. Needless to say we watched another breathtaking sunset over the ocean and then had another of Kim’s gourmet meals with an excellent bottle of wine. What a great introduction to the Exumas!

Panoramic view of sandy beach with the dinghy used for this sailing adventure in the middle
Kim and Tom and their dinghy

After breakfast and chores (yes there are always chores it is a boat and our home after all, we met Mark and Carmella for a dinghy hike into Norman’s Cay. The water is stunning! Yes the travel pictures you see are true. Swimming pools try to mimic the Caribbean, but up close it is sooo different. Try it… you will like it!

Pristine beaches!

Norman’s cay is known for its pristine beaches and a sunken plane wreck and many coves and islands to explore.

So off we went with a cooler full of Kaliks in search of the perfect beach, seashells, turtles and the plane wreck of course. Its reputation did not disappoint. The water is pristine; Aqua, crystal clear and 80 degres. The sand is a pure white sugar sand. We did not go ashore outside of a few deserted and gorgeous beaches. There are places to explore on the main island, but we had a full day of exploration by dinghy. The shelling was great and the wreck was interesting, but we did not see any turtles yet so it was obvious that we need to continue our sailing adventure.

Once again we had a wonderful dinner and sunset in an empty anchorage. The next morning we would be on our way again to one of the northern-most Cays of the Bahamas Land and Sea Park, and what would turn out to be our last connection with the outside world until we got to Staniel Cay, about 35nm south. This area is the heart of the Exumas and THE must-see area to visit.

More on our next blog. Happy cruising! If you want to learn more about Coboaters, please contact us.

sailing adventure: Liveaboard couple in the Bahamas: Tom and Kim smiling.
Liveaboard couple in the Bahamas: Tom and Kim
Sailboat anchored on blue water with cloudy sky
Mark’s sailboat anchored
Catamaran Mojo . white hull and green sail cover. Trees at the back. Perfect boat for sailing adventure
Mojo, the perfect catamaran for such voyage
Nautical chart of the Exumas where the adventure took place
Nautical chart of the Exumas
Swiming in blue water with a sand beach. transparent waters
Great swim!
March 30, 2022
Team Coboaters

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