Exumas, Exumas, Exumas! We made it! Getting to the Bahamas was a major milestone, but the Exumas Island chain was our ultimate goal – and now we’re here! (And it’s ten times more beautiful than we could have ever imaged!)
After one failed attempt to leave Nassau (too choppy), we headed to Rose Island, east of New Providence Island, and anchored for an afternoon. If the seas had died down a bit, this would have made an awesome snorkeling spot. Alex jumped in nonetheless:
We switched marinas from Nassau Yacht Haven ($2.50/ft) to Bayshore Marina ($1/ft). Bayshore is extremely basic, but we were able to tie up inside their T-dock, and with enough fenders and lines, enjoyed a pleasant (and much cheaper) stay in Nassau until we could cross the coral banks to the Exumas. The nearby Starbucks and Fresh Market became our posh/American headquarters. And tying up to a dock with the dogs was much easier than anchoring in Nassau Harbor – known for its strong currents and fair holding. Our Bayshore neighbors looked a little like this:
Potter’s Cay conch shacks down the road from the marina:
On Sunday, January 25, we had a good weather window to cross Yellow Bank between Nassau and the Exumas cays (“keys”). Yellow Bank is not terribly large, but is dotted with large coral heads that you must dodge and weave around in order to cross safely. We were advised to cross the bank at midday, when the sun reveals the coral heads beneath the water. It’s also best to cross on a calm day, as rough seas can obscure the coral heads. Alex took up watch in the bow and I steered a straight course, only altering once around a large dark patch of coral. Most of the coral seemed to be deep enough for us to pass over with our 5 ft draft, but we didn’t want to take any chances.
After Yellow Bank, we could relax and sail the rest of the way to our first island in the Exumas chain: Norman’s Cay. Norman’s was our first taste of unbelievably turquoise, perfect waters for which the Exumas are famous. Neither of us have ever seen blue shallows quite like this. Breathtaking!
Several other boats were anchored in the southern part of Norman’s Cay, and our first night in the anchorage was perfect: flat clam water, uninhabited beaches for the dogs to run around, a strong anchor set. We made it. What an amazing feeling!