We made the 26+ mile crossing from Rock Sound in Eleuthera to Highbourne Cay at the northern end of the Exumas chain. We had planned to replenish our fresh water tanks using our water maker (reverse osmosis) while making the crossing but this was not to be. After many hours crouched in the starboard engine compartment, Pete realized it couldn’t be repaired without having replacement membranes shipped in. This necessitated an overnight stay at the Highbourne Cay Marina so we could fill our water tanks using their water (at 50 cents a gallon).
The marina is built to accommodate mega-yachts and sea planes. It kind of felt like we were hanging out with the rich and famous. They also have “pet” sharks which hang out at the fish cleaning station waiting for a meal.
Pete worked the phone and found his “guy” for water maker repairs in Fort Lauderdale. We were able to order the parts and have them delivered to Staniel Cay, a place we planned to stop to pick up visitors. In the mean time, we are in extreme water rationing mode.
The weather turned against us and we had to return to Highbourne Cay Marina for shelter for a few days. This time we took advantage of their bicycles and rode to the other side of the island for a walk on a beautiful beach. We also took our dinghy to nearby SW Allens Cay to visit the iguanas. We brought along some grapes to entice them out and were not disappointed. After restocking our food supplies from the marina store and topping off the water tanks, we are off to Norman’s Cay.
During the 1970s and 1980s Norman’s Cay was headquarters to a prominent drug lord and was patrolled by armed guards. He built a landing strip on the island and ferried his drug shipments in and out. One of his planes crash landed in the bay and remains there to this day. A portion of the fuselage is still visible above the water and you can see the rest of the plane resting on the bottom in the crystal clear water. At some point the drug lord gave up his hold on the island and today there is a major construction project to build a marina and resort.
Next destination is Shroud Cay at the northern end of Exuma Land & Sea National Park. The park strives to preserve the natural balance of wildlife and plant life. We anchored on the western shore of the island and took our dinghy across the island through mangrove lined creeks. When we emerged on the eastern side of the island we found a most amazing beach! I think all the different shades of blue and turquoise could be seen from this beach. This was also my first lesson in starting, driving and stopping the dinghy, and we made it back to Delphinus okay.
Our next stop in the park was Warderick Wells, also the park headquarters. We were able to pick up a mooring ball and stayed for a couple of nights. The park has several hiking trails, including one to the top of “Boo Boo Hill” where the views are spectacular. The hike took us over rough sandstone (which to me looked like a moonscape), wading through Banshee Creek, and finally a sandy path to the summit. From there we can see the whole island, including some impressive blow holes. On Saturday evening the park sponsored a cruisers happy hour. Everyone from the mooring field brought food to share and our own drinks. It was a great evening to get to know other cruisers and the park staff.
Moving further south in the Exumas we spent a couple of nights anchored near Black Point Settlement. We had heard that the community is very welcoming to cruisers and it is so true. Without a watermaker I haven’t been able to do laundry on board, so we carried five bags of laundry to the Ida’s Rockside Laundromat. In addition to laundry, Ida had homemade donuts and carrot cake for sale. She also offers haircuts, which Pete took advantage of as he was looking a little shaggy. We stopped for lunch at Lorraine’s and bought a loaf of her Mom’s coconut bread. It made great french toast!
We heard through other cruisers we met at the laundromat that a delivery boat had arrived with fresh produce. We walked to the little market and bought a fresh cabbage and some plantains. As we have moved further away from the big cities like Nassau and Freeport, we have had to adapt to what is available in these small settlements. Word of a delivery boat arrival is cause for celebration on the island and in the anchorage.
Another strong weather front was moving in and the anchorage at Black Point did not offer enough protection, so we moved to a spot off Staniel Cay with more protection from the wind. The Staniel Cay Yacht Club was even having all the boats in their marina move because of strong winds. We really are at the mercy of the weather. Our plans change when the weather does.
All of our parts arrived in Staniel Cay and Pete got the watermaker and generator both running smoothly and none too soon. We were down to 1/8 of a tank of fresh water. Pete likes to say that the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations and lately that’s been very true.
Yesterday we watched the supply boat arrive, so today we (along with all the other cruisers in the area) made our way to shore to shop. We found plenty of produce, milk and frozen meats. We caught up with our friends, Rick & Helen from Symmetry III, for lunch at the yacht club.
As I write this we are preparing for another windy night but feeling content. Our water tank is full, as well as the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Tomorrow, Pete’s brother Brian and his wife Stephanie arrive from the frigid north for a visit. We’ll plan to visit the swimming pigs, snorkel, swim and further explore this part of the Exumas. Stay tuned!