Bahamas: Great Harbor Cay to Norman's Cay

By aaron.axvig, 21 April, 2020

Better late than never to write about what we did in the Bahamas...

Our first day in Great Harbor Key we went and talked to Rhett and Deb on SV Twin as we recognized them from the marina in South Bimini (and they have the same model boat as we do).  They were planning to move around a point about 1/2 mile away and we decided to move with them.  We would be more protected from the winds for the next day or two.  Then we went to walk around town.  There was a wild preaching sort of thing going on in the city park, sort of like slam poetry maybe.  The one lady was rhythmically shouting (rapping?) into the microphone and a few others were gathered around.  They had their maxed out PA system pointed outwards so everyone could experience it!  We went to a little restaurant on top of a hill and had some OK food.  We also bought a few things at the relatively well-stocked grocery store.  Then that evening we went over to their boat for supper; I was a little late as I took the dinghy to the marina to get the MyIslandWiFi hotspot unit.  The cut through rock into the harbor is pretty neat.  It was dark on the way back and I had the dinghy lights on.  As I was about halfways back to the boat (a couple miles trip) I felt a wake.  You can tell from the feel of the waves how recently the wake was made, and these felt very recent.  And then I smelled exhaust.  So basically some maniac with no lights on buzzed right past me in the pitch dark.

The next day we decided to go to the beach on the island.  As we rounded the point on the way to the dinghy parking area the waves really picked up.  We were very glad to be anchored on the calm side!  We walked about 1.5 miles to the east side of the island and played with Louise there for an hour or so.  The sand was soooo fine!

We spent one or two more nights there and then went with SV Twin and SV Make Way to Hoffman Key.  We had a really nice sail to there.  Aaron and Rhett went to check out the blue hole.  The anchorage was just OK as there was some surge that made the boat rock in funny ways all night.  Then we motorsailed to Nassau where we fueled up and anchored a bit west of the conch shacks area.  We stayed there for several nights while some wild winds blew through.  We walked a long ways to do laundry one day, went to the grocery store another day (very nearly stocked and priced as well as an American grocery store), and ate at the conch shacks.  Overall we enjoyed it there, despite having heard many bad things.

Then we motorsailed over to Allen's Cay.  We anchored there for a few days and had an amazing time snorkeling and paddleboarding around the boat, exploring some nearby reefs, checking out the iguanas, and just really loving the incredibly clear water and sunny days.  Rhett and Matt had their spears out at one of the reefs and some snorkelers from a tour boat were very upset that we would fish inside of the national park where it is prohibited.  They didn't believe that the park starts about 10 miles south of where we were...probably thought all of the Exumas were in the park.

Our next stop was Norman's Cay.  There were quite a few boats in the channel there but we easily found a spot near the mostly submerged plane wreck which is a very popular snorkeling spot.  So we did some snorkeling and spent a few nights there too.  A big front blew through and one night at about 2:30am our anchor alarm went off.  I quickly determined that it was NOT a false alarm and that we were indeed on the move.  As I popped up on deck and got the engine started our anchor rehooked and we swung sideways into a sailboat that had previously been a few hundred feet behind us.  I was able to drive ahead into the 35-40 mph wind then and keep us ahead of that boat while Anna pulled the anchor up.  Then drove in the dark and crazy wind and two foot waves back to pretty near our old spot and were able to anchor again.  There was no sleep until the wind finally started to abate later in the morning.  As for a root cause, I think that the anchor plugged up with grass and therefore did not handle the 90 degree change in wind direction well.  We talked to the other boat that afternoon and they didn't really have any damage other than some very scared kids.  One of our stantions was bent a little.

Also that night a charter catamaran had one of their lazy jacks break so their mainsail was flying around in the wind.  And then their anchor must have drug too because they were driving around.  Eventually they got re-anchored but still couldn't figure out how to get the sail under control.  They asked for help on the radio but no one was willing to go help them in the dark...I'm certain it would have been different if there was a significant risk of harm to them.  Eventually they figured out that they could lay on the sail and once it was light out and slightly calmer I went over to help them out.  The front end of the dinghy was VERY light in the high winds, definitely a risk of flipping in those sort of conditions.  Once I got there I used an old reefing line that I had brought along and laced their sail down to the boom.

One morning I went with Rhett, Don, and Matt to spearfish at a reef maybe a couple miles south.  It was pretty hard to find as no one had brought any electronic navigation devices but eventually we found it.  It was mostly 15 feet or more deep and there was a pretty strong current.  Don speared a fish and was hollering for us to hurry up and get him because a shark was trying to get the fish from him.  There were lots of barracuda around there too, and I really did not like snorkeling in that spot.

At all of these places we were trading nights hosting dinner with Rhett and Deb on Twin, Matt and Laurie on Make Way, and Don and Mary on Lovely Lady.  It was a very fun group!