Down the Exuma Chain

We left Nassau and headed south east to Highborne Cay after a wonderful night anchored away from everyone else out on the very tip of New Providence. As often happens, we chose a spot that looked great by the location and weather forecast…then wound up being the ONLY boat there. Hmmm, we think, what have we missed? Getting used to it, we realize many cruisers follow the group from marked anchorage to marked anchorage. So but again, we are there by ourselves and the answer turns out to be we missed nothing, I think perhaps the others did. Beautiful stars well away from lights and a calm night with just us.

Next we headed south to Shroud Cay, part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park, then on to Park Headquarters at Warderick Wells Cay. The place is kind of magical in that it is a “no take” area for everything and has been for over 40 years.. As a result the sea is full of coral, crystal clear water, fish, and crustations as it would be without human impact. At low tide the shallow beach was filled with thousands of large Conch, and coral head right in the mooring field covered with Fan Coral, and some of the largest lobsters we have ever seen.

One exception is Boo Boo Hill where it is OK to leave a memory of your ships passing, but only if it is on driftwood, no artificial materials allowed.

Since the park is a trust run by a foundation they welcome volunteer help so we spent a day helping Andrew, one of the park wardens, build a mooring down-line from some of the toughest, stiffest, most brutal three strand nylon line I have ever seen. Lynn refers to it as “the eye splice from hell”. Blistered fingers and all, we feel a little better by doing our part after enjoying the spectacular above and underwater vistas…and I’ve certainly worked in a lot worse places.

 Now we are anchored off Black Point, Great Guana Cay trying to catch up a bit with some sporadic internet, do a bit of laundry, a few boat chores, and wait out the passing cold (72 degrees, bummer!) front to head farther south east.



 After a 02:00 departure from Rodriguez Key in Florida, we had a very uneventful crossing of the gulf stream and the Straits of Florida.  We entered the Bahamas just south of Bimini, watching the depth sounder go from all 0000's (meaning it's over 1000 feet deep) to 600 to 6 in less than a mile. Our first stop was an overnight anchorage on the Great Bahama Bank.  We dropped the anchor in 8 feet and watched it hit bottom and dig in.  It was so clear.  We sat back and enjoyed the view, see photo above.  It was a 360 degree view.  Not a tree, not a rock, not another boat, no Starbucks. Except for the sound of our boat on the water, it was silent.  It was a strange thing to be that alone. I wasn't sure if I was intimidated or if I liked it.  I want to go back and spend about a week just sitting there and see how it feels. 

 As we entered The Bahamas, we hoisted our yellow 'Q' flag for the first time ever.  The Q stands for quarantine, meaning we weren't allowed to leave the boat until we'd cleared in with Customs and Immigration. We spent 2 nights at anchor at Fraziers Hog Key and then made our way south to Nassau.  We cleared in and paid our $300 for our cruising permit. Down came the Q flag and up went the Bahamian courtesy flag. Then we went for a walk.
We were both reminded of Korea as we went down the street.  The smell of diesel in the air. The sidewalk that changes with every new property, up and down and in and out, and where the owner wanted more land, there isn't sidewalk at all and you walk on the street.The fact that if you need to park and you can get 3 wheels on the curb, you're good to go.  It's great.
 Nassau is on the island of New Providence, but no one calls it that, it's just Nassau and across the harbor is Paradise Island, where the huge Atlantis Resort is.  We walked across the bridge to check it out this morning and got a great view of the harbor with the cruise ship docks in the background.  Atlantis was beautiful, but for two people who spent years in Las Vegas and have checked out all those mega casinos and resorts, it just wasn't very interesting. We had more fun watching the MailBoat loading and unloading that we could see from the bridge.
For some reason, Steve really liked this sign.