The Exuma chain is oriented mostly north -south from Nassau and consists of 365 cays(islands) over 90 miles. None are tall, all are quite dry and have lots of beautiful white sand beaches. All have crystal clear water and relatively shallow. Not a lot of towns but there are some settlements which appears to be small villages.
We entered the Exuma chain at Highbourne Cay from southern Eleuthera and had a wonderful sail across under our asymetrical spinnaker.
Many of these islands are private islands and appear to be for the very wealthy. However we are able to anchor off them and on many we can land a dinghy for limited access. Lots of huge mega yachts abound as well.
Just north of Highbourne is Leaf Cay and Allan’s Cay which together form a pretty secure anchorage for a few boats. Their claim to fame is a species of iguana that is not found anywhere else in the world. They are used to people feeding them so they approach anyone coming on to the beach.
We did sit out some weather fronts here. Beautiful sunsets and weather pictures of course to set the scene.
One night was quite ugly and a large yacht named Salesmanship ended up on the rocks just in front of us. All turned out ok for them but they needed to be salvaged off and towed back to Florida. The guests and crew were ferried to shore in the early morning and flown back home only one day into their vacation
A vivid reminder of what can happen.
We travelled south on the banks side in shallow water for many miles until we reached The Exuma Land and Sea Park. Snorkeling throughout the park was spectacular as the sea life is protected. We saw lobsters as big as a small child as well as groupers and lots of fish. Normally these are wary of people and you need to peer under rocks and ledges to see them but here they are wandering in the open and unafraid of people. underwater pictures are challenging unless you have great equipment but we have included what we were able to capture.
Warderick Wells, park headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park (ELASP) does not allow anchoring so we took a mooring. It has fast currents and limited space so mooring is best anyway. There is a narrow strip of water deep enough for us and the colors of the water are so vivid. Notice the dark strip behind John and that is the part that is deeper.
We did do several hikes on the island including to Boo Boo Hill where people bring “Art” -their boat name written on natural canvas like drift wood etc.
We met new cruising buddies here and have enjoyed their company as well as many stories and drinks/meals. The name is Tribasa Cross with Gary and Kathe board. Finally we have a buddy boat that draws more than Maraki! T.C. hails from New Mexico and has plenty of their own stories to add.
Continuing south in the Land and Sea Park we anchor in Cambridge Cay. Another very protected anchorage and find our buddies from the Erie Canal again on a boat named Saltine with Donna and Scott from Minnesota on board. When the canal was shut down they trucked their boat to Georgia and we have not seen them till here. Here we are diving with them and Scott wanted his picture taken!
We hiked/scrambled up on Bell Rock which juts up out of the deep water on the Atlantic side giving a great view from the top. We have heard that one of these islands is owned by Johnny Depp and another by Aga Khan so it is high priced real estate.
Lots of great snorkeling and hiking with new friends and boats to meet. Happy hour on a sand bar attracted 50 plus people including a lady I meet whose grand kids went to Charlie’s school in Norfolk and she knew Charlie! Small world.
Next stop was Big Majors off of Staniel Cay and the famous swimming pigs.
These pigs (i counted 4 adults and 16 piglets) live on the island and are so well feed by visiting boats and the locals as well. They must have great pig roasts here. I am told the pigs love beer but at $42 /case we did not share with them.
James Bond’s movie from the 70’s named Thunderball was filmed here and we dove the cave at low tide. John got some beautiful Queen Angelfish pictures. Most times I get cold before John so I warm up on the dinghy tubes.
Every sail we fished and hoped for dinner but we did not do very well in the fish catching department here. All meat and foodstuff is very expensive in the the Bahamas so we always try to supplement our supply from the sea. lobster season also ended April 1st so that hunt is over for now.
Next island stop was Blackpoint Settlement on Great Guana Cay. it is known to be one of the friendliest places for cruising boats in the Exumas. The anchorage is large, crystal clear and deep enough. the laundry is raved about by cruiser because it is modern, clean, very scenic and has free wifi. What more could we ask for?? We went to the local school fundraiser which was a chicken, pork or hamburger dinner on Saturday afternoon. The school has about 40 kids for pre-k through 12 th grade. The settlement is only about 300 people. We would have stayed longer but the weather forecast was for westerlies coming in and that is the direction that is not protected.
So onward towards Georgetown where we will hold up waiting for the Family Island Regatta April 22through 26. This regatta will get a separate blog post with many pictures and explanations for the sailors in this group. Hopefully while we still have some internet access. That is all for now.