Sailing The Exumas: Our First Taste

Exumas

The infamous, coral heads of the Exumas, have been on our minds since we left New Providence Island. We carefully charted our route from West Bay in New Providence Island to Highborne Cay — you can get the coordinates of our route in our last blog post.

The Exumas are great when the wind is blowing from the East because there is a lot of protection here, and most often, the direction of the wind is great for sailing. However, when the wind shifts to come from the south, west, or north, things become more tricky.

Sadly, though it may look like we’ve seen so much already, our Exumas trip has been cut short due to wind shifts and we had to hightail it down 30 miles or so skipping over a bunch of pretty things. Lucky for us, Seamlessly goes in all directions, so we can always backtrack and see the things we missed later on.

Highborne Cay | Allan’s Cay | Norman’s Cay | Shroud Cay

Highborne Cay

Highborne Cay, Private Beach

Many people had forewarned us that Highborne Cay can be a bit of a chaotic anchorage — and they were right. We spent a few days anchored here, and there was not one day where there wasn’t a “problem boat” around us.

So here’s the deal: A lot of people (groups of friends, families, that sort of thing) charter catamarans from Nassau and head to Highborne the moment they’re out on the open ocean. You’d think that, in order to charter a boat for a week, you’d have to have at least some boating experience… but that hasn’t been reality here at Highborne. All of the Moorings and Dream Yacht Charter boats that came zooming into the anchorage don’t have their VHF on and don’t bother to turn on their anchor light at night. Again – none of them had their VHF radio turned on — making it impossible to ask them not to anchor 50-feet in front of us.

Um, we did yell at one charter boat that was WAY TOO CLOSE and didn’t respond to our calls on the radio. Meeting them on the beach later, they thought the whole thing was funny.

Ah well… when things like this happen, we remind ourselves how awesome it is that this is our life, where people only get to experience what we do 7 days out of the year. And yeah, some of them endanger others and that upsets us…

So, anyway… The holding here was pretty good once we had the anchor set, but we did drag approximately 150-feet before the anchor grabbed. There were quite a few boats around us who had to reset their anchor, or decided to drag a bit before grabbing hold of something on the bottom.

A bonus: the cell signal was very strong at Highborne Cay.

We took the dinghy into the (very charming) marina once the weather had calmed down. Highborne Cay Marina felt very authentic to the Bahamas. Nothing too fancy, nothing too flashy, just very natural, clean, and wonderful. The marina was clean and cute, with fixed docks, other than the dinghy dock. We paid $25 per person to get access to the island which included unlimited usage of the pedal bikes and access to all of their private beaches. If we did this again, we’d make a whole day of it, pack a lunch, our bathing suits, towels, and spend the whole day cycling from beach to beach, trail to trail, and really stretch the fee as far as it could go. All in all though, our 3-hour visit was worth it.

The private beach (24.719723, -76.824367) is incredible, so if you’re looking for a private venue, maybe for a wedding or so, then this is a place to check out.

Our plan was to have lunch at the restaurant, but we got our days mixed up, and the restaurant was closed that day. There is a small store beside the marina office, where we found a bag of 3 carrots, 3 heads of romaine, 2 small red onions, and a cold beer, paying a whopping $41 USD for it all… a steal of a deal when you consider a small jar of honey was $41 USD alone.

The coolest thing about Highborne Cay is the public beach (24.719742, -76.830096). It isn’t the most beautiful beach we have been to, but many of the cruisers take their dinghy to the beach to hangout with one another; a common place for all, and that’s where we made a whole bunch of new friends.

We spent a few weeks with our new friends sailing Adriana (Zena and Craig) and Yellow Bird (Kyra and Jack), whom we met at this very beach.

Leanne and Kevin on the beach at Highborne Cay
The obligatory selfie — on the public beach at Highborne Cay (where everyone meets)
Leanne on the public beach at Highborne Cay

Leanne and Coconut raced on the beach at Highborne Cay… guess who won?

Highborne Cay, Private Beach

We had access to the private beach at Highborne Cay, and we spent a couple of hours lounging in their chairs just because we could.

The bar at the private beach

The private beach is incredible — a great venue for any type of event that needs a paradise-like setting (wink-wink vow renewals, anyone?)

Parrot at Highborne Cay

We were told that she isn’t very nice, but she must have been in a good mood that day because no one aboard Seamlessly was injured in the making of this image.

The dinghy dock at the marina was great. The fuel dock looked a bit tight though.
The dinghy dock at the marina was great. The fuel dock looked a bit tight though.
Leanne striking a pose on Highborne Cay
Leanne steals the show a bit, but that’s okay!
Dream Yacht Charter boat trying to anchor as close as possible to us.

This Dream Yacht Charter catamaran seemingly tried to anchor as close to us as possible, while it was blowing 25 knots, and did not have their AIS or VHF on.

Allan’s Cay

Allan's Cay or Iguana Island

We did not take Seamlessly over to Allan’s Cay because it just didn’t make sense with the weather (plus, the routing was tight!). We did, however, take the dinghy to Allans Cay to see the iguanas — twice!

Taking the dinghy from Highborne Cay to Allan’s Cay the first time was great, with just Leanne and I. The second time, we thought it would be a good idea to have 6 people in the dinghy – after all, the max our dinghy can carry is 6 people – but we quickly learned that 6 people is 4 people too many. Even though our dinghy is rated for 6 persons, it’s just too much. Long story short, it was a bad idea, and the maximum is now 4 people. Or, 2 people, 1 dog.

The little beach is incredible (24.742571, -76.840054), and we even saw a couple of rays. The iguanas are, well, iguanas.

A nearly fearless iguana on Allan's Cay
This little fellow was quite interested in us, even after he found out that we didn’t bring him any food.
Ray at Allan's Cay in the Exumas
This little ray also came to visit us (um, so we’d like to believe).

Norman’s Cay

Leanne and Kevin at Norman's Cay - Macduff's

Mother nature only gave us one full-day at Norman’s Cay. So instead of doing the usual “touristy” things like snorkeling around the sunken airplane, we hung out with our friends Steph and Roy instead, who just happened to be staying at Norman’s Cay. This is another amazing place that would be worth flying to, to spend a couple of days relaxing at.

We anchored off the South tip of the island. Navionics and Explorer Charts were giving us conflicting depths, so we decided to play it safe and anchor out a bit further.

We had a strong cell signal at Norman’s Cay which we soaked up as much as possible before heading to our next destination where we knew we’d have none.

Shroud Cay

SV Seamlessly anchored at Shroud Cay, Exumas

We could ramble on forever about how nice Shroud Cay is. Our opinion? It is just one of those must-see places. This island is only accessible by boat and is in the Exumas Land and Sea Park. The water is absolutely incredible, the beaches are picturesque, and the dinghy creek is breathtaking.

Shroud Cay, Exumas
Some pictures don’t need words — this is one of those!
Shroud Cay, Exumas
Just like the other picture — words are not needed!
Shroud Cay, Exumas - Going up the dinghy river
We explored the dinghy river with our friends from Yellow Bird and Adriana. There were many turtles — engines off and enjoy!
Shroud Cay, Exumas
This is the dinghy landing at the end of the dinghy river, and one of the prettiest places we’ve been to.
Shroud Cay, Exumas - Kevin Kraft

Selfie time! Everyone else was rushing to the beach, and Leanne was off trying to find a trail or 7 to hike.

Shroud Cay, Exumas

Leanne climbing up the path to Driftwood Camp.

Shroud Cay, Exumas - Kevin Kraft

There was a hammock set up at the top of Driftwood Camp. Apparently, people may camp up there from time to time.

Shroud Cay, Exumas

This picture may be beautiful, but it doesn’t come close to real life, unfortunately. The cool thing? The next morning, Leanne took the paddle board from our anchorage all the way through the dinghy river at low tide. She said it was quite an experience, and no other soul to be found.

The Two Explorkers 2020-01-21T17:14:53+00:00

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