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.
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.
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!
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!
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.