Nassau, Bahamas to Allan's Cay, Northern Exumas

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 Nassau Harbor

We decided to spend another day in Nassau because the forecast was for winds from the south/southeast, exactly where we were heading.  We wanted to do some sailing to Allan's Cay and the wind was supposed to be better on Thursday.  We are filled up with fuel, water, groceries, movies, books and anything we could think of to get.   Including the Supremo which we found at the local grocery store.  We had this stromboli type of food at our wedding.  It is one of Mike's all time favorite foods and we can no longer get it and thought that we would never see it again.  We were able to get it back then straight from the wholesaler, a company called Stefano's.   There are only a few places in the Exumas to shop for groceries, and they will be even more expensive than Nassau,  which is the biggest town with the most goods and services anywhere in the Bahamas.  

Thursday, February 23, 2006 Allan's Cay

We left Nassau harbor just before 9am.  We would have to cross the Yellow Bank which is full of coral heads, and to be able to  navigate by sight, the sun has to be high in the sky.  Because of this,  it is not recommended to leave earlier than 9am.  We were underway for two hours before we got to the Yellow Bank.  There were lots of coral heads.  None were sticking up out of the water, but our draft (the part of our hull below the waterline) is 5ft 6in.  We had to be careful and steer around the really dark long patches of coral beneath the waters surface.  The entrance to Allan's Cay has a coral reef on one side of it and as you enter the water on the inside of the island there is a long shoal that runs right up the middle.  We use computer software and GPS to navigate.  Our computer software charts did not have the entrance to Allan's Cay properly marked, so we used our paper charts.  Once inside, we found a spot of deep water among a few other boats, and dropped the hook.  We saw the iguanas on the beach from the boat and quickly lowered the dinghy to go and investigate.  A tour from Nassau called Powerboat Adventures pulled up while we were getting the dinghy down.  There were two boats, each with about twenty passengers and each sporting four 200 HP outboards.  Side by side, they beached the boats, blew their horns and the iguanas came running.  They had oranges for them and 2 boatloads of people who were more than anxious to feed the iguanas and take a million pictures.  They took off as quickly as they had come and we had iguana beach or Leaf Cay to ourselves.  The iguanas at times seem aggressive, they run straight up to you, but only to keep the other iguanas at bay.  Then they'll run back and chase off others as they get closer and closer to you.  Mike had read that the rock iguanas do not have very good eyesight and that it's not a good idea to feed them by hand because they could easily mistake your hand or fingers for a morsel of food.  No Problem!  You almost felt like, as a group, they could overpower you if they had wanted to, there were so many of them!  Kind of like Hitchcock's The Birds.  We went back to the boat and snorkeled around it a bit, cleaning the waterline of the boat, and examining the bottom paint, prop, zincs and rudder.   We both took showers and changed clothes.  Kate went out to hang some laundry on the line and lo and behold, there was StrayCat, just off our port side, preparing to drop anchor.  Our friend Capt. Mark had hailed us on the VHF just as we dropped the anchor at Allan's.  We were excited to hear from him, and told him where we were.  He had just finished a 2 week charter and was returning from South Andros Island, where he was dropping off his guests.  He had received an email update from us that morning that said we were leaving Nassau for Allan's Cay, so he made a minor course change and was sailing to Allan's hoping to find us there.  By the time we talked on the VHF, he was only a couple of hours away.   It was great to see him since we had missed him in Miami.  What a beautiful place and pretty cool to be able to share it with a friend.  We had dinner on Mark's boat and he loaded us down with salmon, chicken, and tenderloin left over from his charter.  What a great friend!  He is very generous and smart. We have a great time with Capt. Mark.  

Friday, February 24, 2006 Allan's Cay

We had coffee with Mark who told us about a great coral reef right around the corner.  (He failed at that time to tell us the last time he had been on the reef, a hammerhead shark swam right by him).  That was a good thing.  We suited up, grabbed all of our snorkel gear and the underwater housing for the camera, so we could take pictures underwater.  Mark told us that the coral reef used to have moorings on it so people would not anchor on the reef.  We dinghied over and did not see any moorings, but could tell that there was a big reef and we could already see the fish.  We anchored the dinghy and Mike jumped in to inspect the current etc...  Just before he did he informed me of a barracuda on the reef.  Oh Great!  Just what I wanted to hear.  I told him to keep those things to himself.  I had been trying to get myself calm for the nurse sharks that are everywhere and now another danger?!  We swam over to the reef and dipped our heads below the water.  There was a sea of tropical fish and corals.  So many different varieties of both.  We soon found the old mooring submerged about three feet under the water.  It was a cool piece of history.  We swam all over the reef until Kate broke her mask and we had to go back to the boat for a spare.  Thank God for spares!  You should have an extra everything if you can fit it.  Things are too inaccessible here and you sure don't want to be in the Bahamas without a snorkel set!  We grabbed a snorkel and the Hawaiian sling for fishing.  There is no spear fishing in the Bahamas using anything with a trigger mechanism, so the way to do it is with a Hawaiian sling.  If you saw the Survivor with Rupert, that's what he was using to catch fish.  We went around the West side of the island which gets less traffic to try and catch some Bahamian conch and Spiny lobster.  We didn't have any luck with the seafood yet, but the snorkeling is great.  We got back to the boat used the transom shower and went over to the StrayCat to help Mark out with some email problems.  We had a great time again, but had to leave in quite a hurry.  There was a front forecasted to come through that night, but not until much later.  We thought it was a bit curious when we felt it start to rain, and even though it didn't make sense in conjunction with the weather reports, within a matter of minutes it was pouring!  We realized that all of our hatches  were open, so we jumped in the dinghy, started it up and flew back over to our boat.  We were completely drenched from the dinghy ride and things were a little wet, but not the computer, camera, remote control for the XM radio or any electronics.  Thank God!  We would really be in trouble without our computer and you wouldn't be reading this or looking at any of our pictures.  A  bit later we enjoyed some grilled chicken for dinner and hit the hay.  

Saturday, February 25, 2006 Allan's Cay

The wind really picked up overnight, and to add to that excitement, some French Canadian guys had come in and anchored only 50 ft in front of us.  As we were talking bout relocating, some other Canadian guys pulled in the anchorage and dropped their anchor right on top of Mark's anchor, right after he had told them they would be tangled up.  They didn't listen and had them and Mark dragging towards the rocks in a matter of seconds.  Mark helped them raft up and Mike and I motored over in the dinghy to help.  Mike helped them get the Canadians anchor off of Capt. Mark's rode.  These crazy guys then started getting close to our boat.  Mike promptly and a bit rudely told them where some deep water was somewhere else further away from us.  They went all over the anchorage trying to get the anchor down, but they didn't seem to have a clue as to how it's done.  It was almost funny to watch, as long as they weren't near you or another boat.  They never could get the anchor set safely, and eventually left, presumably looking for more boats to threaten with their incompetence.  As for us, we weighed anchor and reset further away from the people who anchored on top of us.  With a 20-30 knot Norther forecasted for the next few days, you don't want an inexperienced boat anchored 50 feet in front of you.  The day was really windy and a bit chilly for snorkeling.  We took time to secure the boat for the wind, dry some laundry, do some baking and reading.  Before Capt. Mark left he told us about the best anchorages, shelling beaches and islands that we couldn't miss.  It was great to have someone that sails these islands all of the time, tell you the best spots.  Our guide books are also excellent to tell us about the local history, flora, fauna, fishing spots, snorkeling spots and much much more.  We are studying our next anchorage which may be Highborne Cay or Norman's Cay.  We are in no hurry to leave Paradise and there are a few fronts coming through, so we'll be here until things calm down.  In Allan's Cay the holding is great and you are very protected with islands all around you.  We are loving it and are so blessed to have the opportunity to do this.  Thanks for all of your prayers.  God is guiding us and taking care of us.  He is Mighty!                 

The Bahamas is even hard on pets.  This is a catamaran from Carolina Beach that we saw at the Harbor Club in Nassau

We had to dock between 2 multimillion dollar yachts.  Capt. Mike was spot on!

Tomorrow at the Nassau Harbor Club

Enjoying a dinner of Stefano's Supremo.  It was Supreme-O!

Supremo mmmmmm  .........

It really was good even though the picture might not tell you that

Another hard day, somebody's gotta drink the rum

One of the million dollar homes on the Nassau side, and another boat in our anchorage 

Takes people to Allan's Cay, where the iguanas live, from Nassau

A beautiful terraced landscape with old stone pillars on Paradise Island

Also on Paradise Island.  This driveway is the only kind of road on that end of the island.  You can only get there by boat.

Bahama Blue Baby!

Anchored out in Nassau Harbor

Sunrise at the anchorage in Nassau Harbor

The Flotilla, headed to Allan's and Norman's Cays - Obviously several other boats had the same idea as us, and we found ourselves with a little company for the passage across the Yellow Bank.

Allan's Cay, first one in!

Mike dove on the anchor to check out the holding and the bottom of the boat.  Everything looked great!

Are there sharks in here??!!

The iguana beach was right across from our boat.  Hope they like slightly wilted lettuce.

They'll eat anything.

They constantly fight each other for territory.  Iguana's have poor eyesight, so don't hand feed them, they can bite unintentionally.

When they are mad they puff out the excess skin on their throats.

There are so many you feel like they could attack and conquer

This is close enough Mike!

They are very used to people, so they are aggressively running towards you for the food

MMmmmmm... wilty lettuce

So pretty, they'd make a mama proud


The Iguana Hunter

The iguana's were on Leaf Cay

This is much better seeing them from the boat

Tomorrow at sunset in Allan's Cay

StrayCat at sunset in Allan's Cay

Mike on Stray Cat

Capt Mark on Stray Cat

Stray Cat at anchor, Allan's Cay

A 45ft. Privilege Catamaran

A charter boat

Another cat anchored near the beach

Mike checking out the underwater housing for the camera.  No leaks!

Mike ready to snorkel on the coral reef, all clear, no sharks Kate

The coral reef

Kate snorkeling the reef

Yellow tailed Snapper


Common Sea Fan

Coral head

Juvenile parrotfish

Scroll coral

Grooved Brain Coral

Sergeant majors are the black and yellow striped fish, there are lots of these on the reef

Hey, look guys, another one of those goofy looking humans

Sergeant Major

Blue Chromis fish

Long Spined Sea Urchin

Stoplight Parrotfish

Parrotfish are very colorful


Sea rod is the coral on the right

Yellowheaded Wrasse


Stray Cat at sunset

Fresh and clean after a great day of snorkeling!

I love it here!

The next day, we dinghied over to this beach to relax for a while, but the iguanas wouldn't leave us alone.  It's not very relaxing to have twelve or so iguanas 5 feet away staring at you.

So, we took a picture and left for another small beach just opposite the boat

This was renamed, M&K Cay - Our dinghy in the foreground and Tomorrow in the background

What is stress?

There were huge conch shells all over - Someone had a conch feast for sure

A pile of cleaned out conch shells

These little birds were very curious, and probably willing to take a handout

We hiked up a little trail to the top of Allan's Cay where there were several cairns built out of the local rocks

These islands are made mostly of limestone, and it has worn itself into a never-ending series of crevices, cracks and caves - all with razor sharp edges

You do not want to fall down on this stuff - it would definitely slice you open

But, the view is pretty nice

The wind was really up this day, and crashing the waves against the island

Luckily, we were anchored snug as a bug on the inside

M&K Cay

Hiking back down to the beach

One of the tour boats that occasionally stopped by to deposit their guests on the iguana beach for a little thrill





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