A Travellerspoint blog

The Discovery of Atlantis

25 June

Alison: Today was an early start (7am departure), leaving Leaf Cay in the Allans Cay group and heading for Nassau. We did hoist the sails to give the motor a little bit of wind assistance (and I say little because the winds were still light). The most excitement we had on this passage was going through the Yellow Bank, where we needed someone on constant bow watch looking out for the coral heads that are scattered throughout the bank. We got through the bank without flattening a coral head and continued on our route to Nassau.

As indicated in the Cruising Guide, as we entered Nassau Harbour, we radioed Nassau Harbour Control and requested permission to enter the harbour. Once we received permission (do they ever not give permission?), we continued on our way to Nassau Yacht Haven where we had reserved a slip for the evening. After getting the boat fuelled, watered and safely secured in our slip, it was play time. Oh, did I mention that it took us 1.5 hours to get our 17 gallons of fuel. Just as we finished fuelling our boat, a big party barge pulled into the fuel dock behind us, effectively blocking us in. We had to wait until the party barge finished fuelling (about 1 hour), so that we could get away from the fuel dock and get to our slip. They only pumped about 500 gallons but the guy on the pump was really slooowwww.

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After hot showers and cleaning ourselves up, Mike and I headed over to Atlantis, the opulent resort located on Paradise Island, formerly known as Hog Island. I guess they figured it wouldn't sound too good to have a world class resort on an island with a name like Hog. We stood in awe at the mega yachts tied up in the marina there. Someday? These boats made Soul Healer look like a little guppy. We wandered through the aquarium, where there is a glass tunnel that makes you feel like you are in the water with all the different fish (and yes, there were sharks as well). We also checked out the different buildings on the resort and marveled over the marble carvings, mosaics, tile work - it was almost too much to take in at once.

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We had hoped that Nassau would have reasonably priced hi-speed internet so that we could upload some of our pictures from the last couple of days. Unfortunately, economical internet access doesn't exist here yet, or at least we didn't find it, so you'll just have to wait another couple of days for pics.

Tomorrow, we're heading off towards Bimini. The plan now is to sail to the Northwest Channel and then anchor for the night somewhere on the bank.

Posted by Ali-Mike 20:00 Comments (0)

Day Of The Iguanas - Leaping Lizards

Mike: 24 Jun
Today's adventure started at 10am. Ya, I know, it was later than previous days. This was because we were only travelling 12nm today, up to the Allans Cay group. There was no wind, so we motored. Didn't even bother to hoist the main which we've done on other motoring days. This isn't to say that there were no adventures though.

As we entered the anchorage area, we managed to ground the boat. No sweat though, we only put the keel into a sand mound. We dug into it with the surrounding water being 6' or more and the charted depth showing the same. Anyway, since we came in on the low tide, all we did was wait for the tide to rise. We floated off and moved the boat a few hundred feet.

The Allans Cay group are the only islands in the Bahamas that have humongous iguanas still inhabiting it. And they're big. The biggest we saw (from nose to tail tip) was about 3 feet. That was on Leaf Cay. Alison and I took about 2 dozen pics. When we went ashore, the beaches were barren. However, the bushes were rustling. Not knowing what to expect, we stood at the edge of the water, snorkel gear in hand ready to beat a hasty retreat. Can iguanas swim? Then they appeared. First one, then more. They were inquisitive and approached, en mass. And can they move fast when they want, although none actually came up to us within reach. Amazing creatures for our day and age.

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While snorkeling, a sunken vessel was discovered on the bottom a few hundred feet from the beach. It appears to have been there for some time. We also saw a magnificent spotted eagle ray lolligagging beneath the surface. He was a big one.

Tomorrow, with an early start, we're off to Nassau, where we have a slip reserved at the Nassau Yacht Haven, thanks to satellite communications technology. Then it'll be off taking in the nightlife and the casinos and checking out the aquarium at the Atlantis Resort, although nothing can compare with seeing marine life in its natural habitat, right under our boat. In following days, we head for Chubb Cay, Bimini and then Ft Lauderdale. The end of our adventure is drawing nearer.

Posted by Ali-Mike 17:30 Comments (0)

Leder's Lair and McDuff's Are Gone

Mike: 23 Jun
So today we stopped at Normans Cay, sailing close hauled on a north wind of about 10kts up from the Marine Park on Warderick Wells, 17nm to the south. Entering the cay area at low tide, we touched bottom in the sand - the chart suggested that we'd be in at leat 2 meters of water and we only need 1.7m. I guess we hit an underwater sand drift or something. We were idling on the way in and were showing in excess of 6kts on the GPS speed log - lots of current. No sweat though and we anchored just fine. There's a whole lot of current flowing and when I tried to snorkel our anchor set, I just couldn't get there. In the evening we were one of 5 boats at Normans. Amazing how earlier in our travels we'd be the only boat.

Norman Cay is the site of drug lord Carlos Leder's empire. Here he ran his multi-million (billion?) drug supplying empire in the 70s. Today, all of the trappings - the grand house, the dock, the runway and the semi sunken drug transport DC3 are still there. The buildings are standing but in disrepair 30 years after. Most of what was has been overgrown but the locations of the terraced gardens are still evident. While the guide book suggests that there are bullet holes in the walls, we only found the holes that nails that were fired into the conrete walls to hold panelling were. No bullet holes.

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We snorkelled the DC3 at low tide. It's mostly intact but the years have taken their toll. Much is now encrusted with coral growth. The friendly fish that hung around had obviously been fed by visitors.

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Lastly, after a long walk down the runway to where McDuffs was supposed to be, all we saw was a sign tht McDuffs was under new ownership and was gone. No more to be!

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All together, a relaxing day on the water. Tomorrow, we head on to Allens Cay to see the Iguanas.

The motley crew finally finished off the birthday celebrations in style... we've now had cake three days in a row and are glad to see the end of the chocolate colossus.

Alison made the acquaintance of a feline resident of the island, who really would have appreciated a tidbit or two. Not a stray, because he was sporting a collar.

There were a number of guesses as to how long the private airstrip was... but after having walked 3/4 of the distance in the heat of the day, my tired old feet didn't really care. Screams were heard from this country girl as she encountered the killer 3" geckos on the path.

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A beautiful complete rainbow set the ambience for a lovely dinner of barbied chicken with peas and rice - Caribbean style - an original recipe cooked up by the deck fluff. It will be really hard to top this birthday!

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P.S. For my dermatologist - tan's looking good... so business is looking up for you.

Posted by Ali-Mike 18:25 Comments (1)

Of Swimming Pigs, Blowholes and Boat Names

Mike 22 Jun
Today, we left the tranquility of Staniel Cay and headed around to west side of Big Majors Spot, just around the corner from where we were. This spot is known for its swimming pigs. We anchored and Alison, Ann and I dingyed toward the shore... no pigs in sight though. So I started calling out 'Soouuuihhh'. I don't know, sounded like something pigs would expect to be called by. Anyway, it worked, and two porkers appeared on the beach and ran toward us and came out into the water. Alison and Ann tempted them with carrot sticks and one swam out to the dinghy to get his tasty treats. Cool! Flying pigs as screen savers are OK but swimming pigs are a step above.

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We continued on to Warderick Wells. We took the inside route on the west side of the Exuma island chain. There wasn't any wind, so today was motoring the 17nm that we needed to travel. The average depth was no more than 15 feet... it's something to be cruising along at 6 kts and seeing the bottom streaking along just below the keel. We also kept a bow watch where 'volunteers' stayed at the bow looking for any coral heads and shallow areas, although the route that we'd planned didn't show any and none were observed.

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We got to Warderick Wells at about noon. This is a Marine Park. We checked in with the Park Warden, paid the $20us mooring fee (no anchoring is permitted) and headed off on a mission of discovery. There's a 53' whale skeleton on the beach, an area on the ocean side that has lots of blow holes (these are where incoming waves, after having crashed into the rocks, shoot into the air through holes that have been worn into the rocks), and a monument that previous cruising visitors have created and consists of articles that show they've been here (mostly pieces of driftwood which have the boat's name, crew and date carved or written on them). Later in the afternoon, some of the crew took the dinghy and went around to Emerald Rock for a snorkelfest and over to the nearby beach to view the ruins of a mid 17th century loyalist plantation settlement. Overall, Warderick Wells is a spot that is truly spectacular and should not be missed.

Tomorrow, we plan to visit Norman Cay to visit the mansion ruins of the drug lord Leder's fallen empire. There's supposed to be a DC3 semi submerged just off the drug lord's private runway. Check back and we'll let everyone know.

Posted by Ali-Mike 19:20 Comments (1)

A Cave Of Many Colours

Of Sharks and Rays - 21 June

Mike / Alison / Ann: Today was an early start - 7am at the high tide. Not all were as eager to get going this morning as indicated they would the night before. At promptly 7am, the big diesel was roared into life and sleep was shaken from those not already on deck. With Brian at the helm and Alison at the bow watching for the shallow spots, our group made our way out the cut to the open ocean. It's amazing how the tidal flow out the cut, which was opposite the wind, kicked up a tumultuous maelstrom. Alison had a roller coaster ride. The rest of us stayed dry however.

Since the winds were light, we motored, arriving at Staniel Cay at about noon, which was just about low tide. We anchored just off the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and put the dinghy together and headed for Thunderball Grotto - the scene of the James Bond movie of the same name and another movie Splash. Alison, in full snorkel gear, rolled in in true diver fashion and promptly stood up in waist deep water. A bit embarrassing for her given all her preparation.

Thunderball Grotto - what can we say - words don't adequately describe it. We'd include some pics, but they were shot with the underwater camera, so you'll have to wait until we get the 35mm film developed. In the meantime, here's how we'd describe it: picture this - fighting against a strong current through a very narrow passageway to come into a cavernous space, complete with vegetation hanging down from a large opening in the dome top, shafts of light illuminating the pool of colour, coral, rocks that appeared iridescent, schools of brightly coloured fish....and did we mention the current? It actually shot us out when it was done with us. Spectacular!!!!!

Next we went to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for our happy hour, with an extra special greeting committee waiting for us.....dozens of sand sharks, gars, a puffer, rays and myriads of other fish - they were waiting to feed on unsuspecting arriving dinghy people. Everyone was careful getting out and up onto the dock. See the pics:

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We went back to the boat for a 15 minute snooze, change of clothes and then it was back to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for dinner. And celebration of Ann's birthday (yes, we did order a birthday cake for her!). After a scrumptuous meal, the waiting staff came through the restaurant singing 'Happy Birthday', and carrying a huge chocolate cake. Everyone else in the restaurant joined in the singing. We did our best with the cake but we are still going back to the boat with enough leftovers for a number of days.

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With the early start we had this morning, the crew's bagged - party poopers. Tomorrow, we get to sleep in a little later since our distination is Warderick Wells Cay, about 17nm. But we'll be stopping to see the swimming pigs and then at a sea aquarium at O'Briens Cay.

Posted by Ali-Mike 18:15 Comments (0)

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