Allan’s Cay, Exumas + The Iguanas!
Dec 26th and 27th, 2008
When we got up today and checked the weather report, it was calling for 20 to 25 knots of wind from the East. Not what we were hoping for. We are heading for the Exumas, first stop Allan’s Cay. Our course will have us sailing South East, so we will be close hauling all the way, with heavier winds, so it might be a lumpy ride. The first thing we have to do is find a place to fill the water tanks. We headed out the East channel from Nassau, the tidal stream was coming in from this direction with a strong 3-4 knot current, along with the head on 20+ knot winds. We had to navigate under the bridges that lead to Paradise Island. Our mast height is about 62 feet, and the tallest point in the bridge is 70 feet. More comfortable than the bridges in the intercostal, but we still had to be careful. There was a gas station that was open between the two bridges that we tried approach. But as soon as I turned the wheel, the current and wind took the boat at a good force side ways. We decided not to attempt docking at this gas dock. One of the bridges was less than 200 feet behind the dock. If we made any mistakes we could catch our mast under the low part of the bridge. So we decided to move on, and not too far ahead we found another station. Docking at it was very interesting. We spun the boat around, and had to battle the current and wind again. Luckily there were a few guys there to catch our lines, and secure the boat to the dock. Turns out the station was closed, and these guys were just waiting to clear customs. They had just sailed in from the Turks & Caicos. They were delivering a boat they had purchased from a charter fleet, and were taking it up to Montreal, Canada. There was a water tap there, and we were able to fill up our 400 liters of water there and head out to sea.
The guys wished us luck and warned us it would be lumpy. However, we were fortunate and ride was not too bad at all. We sailed all the way to Allan’s Cay in about 5 hours and made it there an hour before dark. We always try to make it to our destination in the Bahamas before dark. The islands and anchorages are usually littered with rocks, reefs and cays. All of this cruising ground is new to us, and we have never been to these parts before. So better safe than sorry, we have been fortunate and never did go aground or hit anything on this trip so far.
Arriving to Allan’s Cay was a little tricky, the little bay where everyone anchors is very shallow on both sides and even in the middle. There is a nice hole that is 15 to 20 feet deep, but when we got there we found that 4-5 other boats had already beat us there. So we anchored just ahead of them in about 8 feet of water. That evening when the tide went out, and the winds shifted a little, we were touching the sandy bottom ever so often. We tried to throw out an second anchor to keep us in the deep side, but that was not successful. Nothing too serious, so we decided to stay where we were for the night. The next morning, most of the boats pulled up anchor and left, so we moved into a nice hole right next to a boat called Onda from Australia. Funny thing was we met up with this boat a few weeks ago in Cape Canaveral.
I must say that we felt as if our vacation really started in the Exumas. This is what we dreamed it would be like. The weather was much warmer, less windy from here on, and islands and anchorages are unbelievable. Just check out the pictures that we have taken in the Exumas from here on. We had a wonderful time at Allan’s Cay, loved the beach, snorkeling, swimming and of course the Iguanas.
The island boasts no human population, true of many of the islands in the Exumas. But more impressive is the population of over a hundred Iguanas. At first we were a little scared of them, we heard they may bite by accident, their eye sight is not very good, and often mistake feet and fingers for food. But soon the children got very comfortable with them. We feed them bread and carrots, it’s all we had to spare, but they loved it. After a couple of days on the island, the kids got very comfortable playing with them, and just building a sand castle and simply ignoring the dozens of Iguanas all around you. They also realized that if you dropped anything they would run and taste it, wondering if it was food. So Thomas would run around and drop his plastic shovel and watch the Iguana run toward it. Then Alexander would chase them away. Alexander even chased them on all fours, soon the Iguana were actually afraid of the kids. When another boat pulled up to feed the Iguanas, they were none to be found, they were too scared to come out. I know this was a little cruel, but I am sure once we left they would go back to their normal habits.
Thomas and I snorkeled the whole bay and saw many interesting creatures. We also caught 5 large conch, and we decided we were going to eat them for dinner that night. We invited the cruisers from the boat Onda over to our boat for some conch and wine that evening. I cleaned the conch for the first time in my life. I got some instructions from various people on this trip, and took my stab at it literally. Then Roxane fried them up in some batter, and they were pretty tasty. Even the other cruisers from Onda agreed, it was the best Conch they had in the Bahamas.
The next day before we left we explored a couple of the other little islands in the same bay. You can see a few of the pictures of Black Diamond anchored in this beautiful paradise like setting.