Sunday, May 5, 2013

Exuma Islands Adventure Begins: Allen and Norman Cays

View My Route in a larger map

After a great week with the family I met  brother in Nassau. After he realized the sorry state of his hotel, he was ready to leave. And I was too.  We left for the Exuma Islands Tuesday and headed down to Allens Cay where the critically endangered Exuma Iguanas hang out.  We had a 38 mile sail that turned out to be very nice and easy.  The only nervous time was threading through some shallow coral heads in what is known as the Yellow Bank.  We only saw one that we thought we had the potential of hitting, but we sure would have if we werent on the look out.  We arrived at Allens at four in the afternoon and were one of 7 or 8 boats anchored there.

Powerboat Adventures tourists feeding the Allen Cays Iquanas

Kayaking Allen Cay

The owner of this boat motored over to us and said he had owned a Hallberg Rassy Monsun prior to this beauty and he marveled at the level of rebuild I had accomplished on my Rasmus

Studying the charts to plan our next anchorage at Normans Cay

We had fun kayaking around and walking the beach.  There were hundreds of iguanas on the island and many were conditioned to come out and get a free lunch from the many tour boats that brought folks out to see them.  The first night was without shut eye as a boat anchored too close to ours and we were in danger of colliding and the current was so strong the boat bounced bad all night long.  The next night we found a better area to anchor and had a very smooth night of slumber.  Allen Cay is a tight anchorage when there are 8 or 9 boats anchored there.  We left for Normans on thursday, today, and found a beautiful area off a very nice beach.  Brother and I went for a long walk along the beach and to the small airstrip.  

Brother Pete relaxing at Norman Cay

A cocktail at sunset became part of the daily ritual

The great beaches at Norman Cay

Norman Cay scene

There are "cuts" between the Exuma sound, the deep ocean, and the Exuma bank, the shallow ocean.   A lot of the anchorages are in these cuts.  We anchored in a cut in Allens and we are anchored just off of a cut in Normans.  I wanted to do a drift snorkel in the cut and the current was running fast.  I tied my kayak to my left arm and had my fishing harpoon in the other.  The water is amazingly clear and it is exciting to fly along and see the incredible variety of fish in the deep cuts.  I soon bagged a fish and quickly got him in the kayak.  I was back fishing in a few minutes after a quick scan for sharks.  After about a minute of looking for dinner, I looked again to scan for sharks. As I raised my head to scan the area, I was nose to nose with a big bull shark on the hunt.  It was no more than 5 feet and coming closer.  As it turned I jabbed him hard with my harpoon just to let him know I wasn't harmless, and I was out off the water and in my kayak in seconds and looking to make sure I had both  feet attached.  I was done with fishing and headed back to the boat for a stiff drink.  The brother asked what  was going on as he was watching through binoculars as I flew out of the water like a flying fish onto my kayak.  Man that shark found me fast after harpooning that fish.  I don't think I will be fishing like that again.

Norman Cay is a beautiful place.  And the beaches are great to walk on.  We did a 3 mile hike on the southeast side of the island and then into the dock area and to the small airport.  Tomorrow we will sail to Shroud Cay and stay there several days, as there is rivers running through mangrove forests in the interior of the island.  We are going to kayak through these and take photos, as fishing is illegal in the Exuma Land and Sea park.

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