A Travellerspoint blog

Second Time Unlucky

Clear Water, High Wind


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & 2002 Heart Attack at Shroud Key & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

January 18
The sky just before dawn was like a Van Gogh, except that it was not circular lines, but like crushed velvet - sort of jagged around the stars. The sun rose.
Bimini from the Gulf Stream

Bimini from the Gulf Stream


I started seeing the trees of Bimini. When Bob came up I pointed out to him the cruise ship Wind Star which has sails which was coming into Bimini (I had read an article in the Weds Miami paper about it). They are coming to Bimini every week - a tremendous increase in tourism. The ship anchored - we could hear their radio communications on the VHF.

Windstar cruise ship off Bimini

Windstar cruise ship off Bimini


645885-Coming_into_the_harbor_South_Bimini.jpgComing into the harbor

Coming into the harbor


We turned off all the nav lights. We got to Bimini at about 8 am Fri. morning and called Sea Crest Marina (where we docked last year), and were advised to wait until 10 for high tide.

I saw another boat who looked like he was going to go across the sandbar that sticks out from North Bimini and I called him on the VHF and told him about the range which is very hard to see.
range sticks widely separated

range sticks widely separated


(Photo of the range was taken leaving Bimini and the two stakes are widely separated. Can you see them?). You have to line up the two sticks,
coming along side the range

coming along side the range


Lined up on the range

Lined up on the range


and come in along the range and then run just a couple of yards off the beach up past the shoal that sticks out from the South Bimini marina entrance He asked to follow us, so we led him in. Bob says the depth sounder didn't go below 6'9". (Our boat draws around six feet but the depth sounder warning goes off at seven feet.)
South end of north Bimini docks

South end of north Bimini docks


645503-RosalieAnn_at_SeaCrest_Bimini_District.jpgRosalieAnn at SeaCrest

RosalieAnn at SeaCrest


After we got into Bimini, we'd been 190 nm since Key West. This trip we did 84 nm in 17 hours (counting the 2 hours we waited to come into the harbor). We had used about 14 gallons of fuel.
Sea Crest Marina with Sea Crest hotel behind it

Sea Crest Marina with Sea Crest hotel behind it


I went up and checked in and got 90 days cruising permit.

Then we went and had BLTs at Captain Bob's restaurant like we did last year (they were good - a lot of bacon - mostly bacon). Bob went to get some Bimini bread (which we normally buy at the market but they were out so he got some at a store) while I went back to the boat to send an email and discovered that I couldn't find the international access number for pocketmail. I tried several times to phone them, but their customer service numbers are screwed up and wouldn't let me talk to a person until I could tell them a person?s name. Finally had to call our daughter - got our son-in-law and he got the number from the internet for me.
Customs building with Pay phone (by phone pole) in Bimini

Customs building with Pay phone (by phone pole) in Bimini


Sea Crest doesn't have fuel so Bob went and got fuel in jerry jugs from Blue Water at the next dock (19 gals in 2 trips) ,
From SeaCrest docks to Blue Water docks

From SeaCrest docks to Blue Water docks

and then we walked up to the Anchorage for dinner. The dinner was very good, but I couldn't eat it all because I was too tired. CJ's had no ice cream. We decided to get the electricity here, even though it is more expensive than most places, so Bob turned on the refrigeration and we went to bed.

Saturday January 19th

We spent Saturday in Bimini. Bob walked down to the point at the south end of north Bimini twice through the graveyard to see whether he could see the Wind Star ship but it was anchored too far off. I walked down as far as Chalks. They have their own little customs building there.
Looking past Chalks to bar

Looking past Chalks to bar


And then the museum was open so we went to that. A lot of stuff about Hemingway, MLK, Adam Clayton Powell and Prohibition. Unfortunately, no attendant was there so we couldn't see the films.
Looking down into museum yard

Looking down into museum yard


Bought some coconut rolls at the straw market, which are too sweet for my taste. Also got some coconut candy which is delicious.
Bob walking on King Street in front of a store

Bob walking on King Street in front of a store


Queen Street traffic jam

Queen Street traffic jam


Cruise ship off Bimini beach with one of the passengers on the beach

Cruise ship off Bimini beach with one of the passengers on the beach


After I tried unsuccessfully to log on with Herb, I went snorkeling off the beach. Bob sat and watched (too cold for him).
Snorkeling off beach

Snorkeling off beach


Afterward when I was showering at the marina, I thought the toilet tank would be a good place to dunk my new camera (you have to wash the salt water off before you can get the film out), but I checked the water, and it turned out to be salt or brackish and not fresh. So I had to rinse it off again. Apparently all the hotels and businesses have a reverse osmosis watermakers, while the private residences use cisterns and have a separate salt water line for toilet flushing.

When I went up to pay (even paying $18/day for electricity, it was cheaper than Marathon), I asked the Mike the dockmaster whether the toilets used salt water, he looked very startled, and he continued to look startled when I attempted to explain why I had tasted it. I missed getting a picture of Chalk's seaplane as it took off as I was going up to pay

I put a route into the computer, but since Maptech explained to me that the Bimini charts are off by a mile to the NW I had little confidence in it. So I put a route into the GPS which I have not done before. Then, I got up Sun am early and redid the route on the computer (going Bob's way through Turtle Rocks instead of Gun Cay Cut). Tomorrow (Sun) we start across the Great Bahama Banks to Chubb Cay.

(I suggest getting a map of the Bahamas if you want to follow our progress or if you are geography impaired re: Bahamas.) Chubb Cay is in the Berry Islands. It will take us 2 days.
Blow up of the route map

Blow up of the route map

The green dots on the left are the Keys in Florida. The dot at the top in the middle is Bimini - we sailed from Florida to Bimini overnight helped by the current in the Gulf Stream. On the right past Andros Island and Nicholls Town are Chub Cay and Nassau

January 20th

We had to wait for a rising tide to leave so that if we go aground the tide will be going up to float us off. PIRATE LADY, a scuba live-aboard boat came in and cleared customs. We left about 1045, and only touched down once briefly in the trough of a wave. I took pictures of the harbor as we left.
Chalks from the water

Chalks from the water

Fisherman's Restaurant and End of the World Bar

Fisherman's Restaurant and End of the World Bar

Fishermen and south end of the island

Fishermen and south end of the island


The GPS route worked fine. There was little or no wind. We pass the WWII ferro cement ship which is sunk south of Bimini. Fisherman and divers like to go here.
Sunken WWII boat

Sunken WWII boat


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I can clearly see the starfish on the sand in 18 ft of water.
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After we anchored, I went for a swim. And then we went to sleep.

January 21, 2002

Bahama Banks - view for 2 days

Bahama Banks - view for 2 days


We anchored on the Banks for the 2nd night about 4 miles from the NW Channel light at about 1430 after a trip of 31 nm. Past the light it is too deep to anchor (depth sounder goes crazy) at about 500 or more ft, and it was another 25 miles or so past that to a harbor. I could see the current trails on the anchor chain and snubber, so decided not to swim (didn't want to be carried away from the boat!). We were sitting there peacefully when two other boats came right up to us and asked if we minded if they anchored there too. I said we didn't mind as long as they didn't hit us, and they apparently took that to mean that we DID mind, so they went and anchored about a mile away. They were like Siamese twins out there. Calling each other Capt K and Capt M - real motor mouths on the radio.

January 22, 2002

We pulled the anchor from where we anchored near the Northwest Channel Light, and motor sailed. We passed Mama Rhoda Rock and Chub Cay
South of Chub Cay

South of Chub Cay


(I could see the Batelco tower and the water tank) and turned north to go to Frazier's Hog Cay and the Berry Island Club. I had trouble contacting the marina on the radio, and finally phoned a number in Ft. Lauderdale and they gave me the local number (which I've lost). After we threaded our way in through the shallows, we came into the marina and tied up.
Old Frazier's Hog Cay sign at Berry Island Club

Old Frazier's Hog Cay sign at Berry Island Club


The Berry Island Club is the new/old name. It was originally the Berry Island Club, and then it was renamed for Frazier's Hog Cay, and has come back to the original name.
10542468813438-Shoreline_nor..rs_Hog_Cay.jpgLeft is the shore north of the marina

Left is the shore north of the marina


The marina and moorings are really only protected from west winds. The moorings have old engines as anchors. Dockage is 75 cents a foot, and electricity is $5/day minimum or 35 cents kWh. Moorings are about $8.00. Showers are $5 each. Laundry is $4 to wash one load. The marina is very isolated. It costs $10 each to go to the airport or in to Chub (in a beach buggy)
Beach Buggy

Beach Buggy


which wasn’t working when we were there) or pickup truck. There are several beaches (for walking - they didn't look too good for swimming). We walked around on the beaches the first day before dinner. Bob walked around again the next day, accompanied by the marina dog.
West side beach at low tide - conch shell

West side beach at low tide - conch shell

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The marina has an exchange library, a bar and a small restaurant that is mainly for the guests at the hotel or the marina but if you call from Chub Cay, they will come and get you (for a fee) and take you back. The marina is run by two brothers from Louisiana.
One of the brothers tending bar

One of the brothers tending bar


You have to pay in cash - no checks or credit cards or even traveler's checks are accepted. It is really good fresh food-Bahamian/Cajan ranging from $12-$23 for an entree. Reserve your dinner by 1500 - tell them what you want to eat. - very good food and plenty of it. Bob had a pork chop ($12.00) and I had shrimp etouffier ($15.00). We had enough to take back to the boat. I used the leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day with some additions from the boat galley. The next evening we went just for dessert ($5.00) which was wonderful too.

January 24, 2002

We left the marina on Thurs. on the rising tide, at about noon, so we could see the bottom contours. The two trawler/motor boat people who came in from Chub after we did helped walk us out (get off the dock), and it was a piece of cake even with the wind & current. (One of them is on a mooring, but the other one was so uncomfortable on the mooring in the SE wind that they’ve anchored over in the flats – their little lobster boat only draw about 2 ft.)
Marina and moorings

Marina and moorings


We went 1.9 nm out to Bird Island and anchored just inside of the island from the North West Channel. It was quite rolly because the wind and current were not in sync. Talked to Herb. Bob put up the sails to steady us. We could see the waves crashing on the shore on the other side of the island over a low spot. Eventually, we had some stew and went to bed. The rollers died down and the boat was steady, so Bob took in the sails. The wind generator did run most of the night.

January 25, 2002
Sunrise over Bird Island

Sunrise over Bird Island


Got up early and pulled the anchor. Bob put up the main and staysail before he pulled the anchor. Because of wind and current, we had to power up to the anchor, and it took some time. Then I drove out to the channel while Bob shaved. The waves were 4 ft, and the wind was from the ESE, which is where we are headed. We motor-sailed now at a pretty good rate- along with 8-10 other boats, mostly from Chub Cay. We had a couple of brief showers, and a persistent rainbow. I took a photo. There’s a boat right at the end of it.
Rainbow and sailboat

Rainbow and sailboat


Waves have dropped to 1-2 feet. We expected to get to the Nassau (New Providence Island) about 1400. You have to radio for permission to enter the harbor just like landing at an airport. Entering the harbor I was looking for the double bridges, and the cruise ships.
Crystal Cay - NOT THESE BRIDGES-Don't mistake this for the Nassau bridges

Crystal Cay - NOT THESE BRIDGES-Don't mistake this for the Nassau bridges


Bridges from our boat

Bridges from our boat


Hog Island Lighthouse 2002 with Atlantis in the background

Hog Island Lighthouse 2002 with Atlantis in the background


Hog Island light

Hog Island light

Hog Island Lighthouse 2002 with white lantern

Hog Island Lighthouse 2002 with white lantern


We passed the Hog Island Lighthouse. This lighthouse on Hog Island (which is to the west of the re-named Paradise Island) dates back to 1817. It is at the western entrance to the Nassau Harbour and was active with a flash every 5 s, generally white, but the light changes to red when conditions are dangerous for entry. But last time I was in Nassau at night it did not seem to be flashing at all. It is a round old-style brick tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern now painted red. This is the oldest and best known lighthouse in the Bahamas and the oldest surviving lighthouse in the West Indies. Sadly, it is endangered. The lighthouse was in "deplorable" condition by spring 2015, with government agencies blaming each other for its neglect. And there is a good view of it from sailboats or from cruise ships entering the harbor.
Cruise ships from our boat, coming in to Nassau

Cruise ships from our boat, coming in to Nassau

Cruise ships

Cruise ships

Japanese Fisheries vessel

Japanese Fisheries vessel


Paradise Island

Paradise Island


anchor out

anchor out


Some people anchor out, but we wanted to go into a marina. So after we passed the commercial docks and went into Nassau Harbour Marina at $1.00/ft $2.20 electricity (I had to go get a splitter and pay a mandatory $8.00/day water charge.) We could also get cable, but that only had a couple of channels. Before we went into our slip we got 30 gallons of diesel fuel at $1.508/gallon
RosalieAnn at Nassau Harbour Club

RosalieAnn at Nassau Harbour Club


Our trip today was 36.7 nm for a total of 1,348.6 for the whole trip (starting from home in the Chesapeake in October 2001). In 8.2 hours we used 7.0 gals at 0.9 gal/hr.
701241-Atlantis_Marina.jpgAtlantis_Marina entrance from the bridge

Atlantis_Marina entrance from the bridge


I did consider going into the Atlantis Marina (minimum length 40 feet--$3/ft) because you get all the privileges of the resort ($250-445/room) including the water park etc. If we had grandchildren guests might be worth it. We ate dinner at the marina restaurant Ichiban (Japanese)
Sunset across the Harbor from the Marina

Sunset across the Harbor from the Marina


Saturday, January 26, 2002

Bob went out to see if he could get some parts for the boat. Then we walked across to the Subway and had sandwiches,
563833602971631-East_End_Mal..Etc_Nassau.jpg
shopped at the market and had ice cream for dessert. We took a jitney bus downtown
School kids From the jitney bus

School kids From the jitney bus


and I went to an internet cafe.
Nassau street scene - policeman giving ticket

Nassau street scene - policeman giving ticket

Don't Drive On Bay Street In Rush Hour

Don't Drive On Bay Street In Rush Hour


We walked all the way back from the internet cafe, stopping near the bridges over to Paradise Isl. at an Outback Steakhouse to have dinner
Nassau Harbor Marina
Misc. Boat Costs $17.90
Subway and ice cream lunch for two $16.57
Outback Steakhouse dinner $30.54
Bridges and marina at sunset

Bridges and marina at sunset

Film photo at dusk

Film photo at dusk


Bus to town $1.00 each
Internet $9.00
Misc $10.78

Sunday January 27, 2002

The main thing I wanted to do here in Nassau was to visit the underwater park at Atlantis. This is like the tank at Epcot, but 10 times as big at least. Maybe not completely worth the $25@ that it costs, but impressive. I also wanted walk over the bridge, so a guy drove us from the marina to the end of the bridge ($5),
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and we walked across-
Harbor from the bridge

Harbor from the bridge


Casino from the bridges

Casino from the bridges


got to watch the Chalk's seaplane take off from the top of the bridge (75 ft above the harbor).
64828198701279-Chalks_seapla..ise_Island.jpgChalks Seaplane

Chalks Seaplane


The Atlantis park starts in a restaurant surrounded on 3 side by a large tank which had manta rays, hammerhead sharks, trigger fish, angelfish, yellowtail, dolphin fish, and many others, and go into a fake Atlantis archeological site (which I paid no attention to) and walk through the rest of the tank.
Aquarium

Aquarium

6057458-Eat_While_Surrounded_By_Fish.jpgMain Tank

Main Tank

6057454-Eat_While_Surrounded_By_Fish.jpg6057450-Eat_While_Surrounded_By_Fish.jpg700406-fish_2002_Paradise_Island.jpgEat While Surrounded By Fish

Eat While Surrounded By Fish

Hammerhead 2002

Hammerhead 2002


In addition, I remember there were 2 jellyfish tanks, a grouper tank, a piranha tank, a seahorse tank, 2 big lobster tanks,
Seahorse tank

Seahorse tank

lobsters

lobsters

Moray eel tank

Moray eel tank


2446195-Jellyfish_The_Bahamas.jpgFilm and Digital of one of the jellyfish tanks

Film and Digital of one of the jellyfish tanks

52992986701283-Starfish_in_t..ise_Island.jpg
a touching tank with starfish, sea cucumber and queen conch,
Conch with extended foot

Conch with extended foot


..and then you go topside and walk around on top, seeing a lagoon with little brown rays, one with houndfish,
572031197725853-Surface_Tank..tis_Resort.jpgSurface Tanks

Surface Tanks

large_712792292431197-Surface_Tank..tis_Resort.jpg701285-Surface_tank_Paradise_Island.jpgSurface Tanks

Surface Tanks


and then you go through a tunnel under the predator lagoon. This last was somewhat disappointing as it had a lot of sediment in the water stirred up by two divers using a hookah rig who were vacuuming up the sand bottom.
Seahorse statue at the aquarium

Seahorse statue at the aquarium

Atlantis Beach

Atlantis Beach


Bob with his eyes shut waiting for food - Paradise Island

Bob with his eyes shut waiting for food - Paradise Island


Atlantis has 12 restaurants, and another 15 other places to eat, so we stopped and I had a pizza and Bob had a club sandwich at the Lagoon bar and Grill. Then we took a taxi back. After we talked to Herb, I went for a swim and had a shower.
Nassau Harbour Club Pool

Nassau Harbour Club Pool


I also talked to the owner of the Betsy June - a boat like ours
Betsy June in Nassau Harbour Club Marina

Betsy June in Nassau Harbour Club Marina


We had dinner at the Dockside grill and watched the end of the Rams game (Superbowl playoffs). Bob then did the wash (the laundry is only open 4 pm to 1 am,and 4 am to 11 am.)
Sunset from our boat Jan 27, 2002

Sunset from our boat Jan 27, 2002


Lunch $24.15
Dockside dinner $27.49
Transport $15.00
Atlantis admission $50.00
Misc $9.00

Monday January 28, 2002
On Sat evening January 26rd, I had popped a large filling out of my top 1st molar when flossing. Since I did not think dentists worked on Sun, I waited and called a Walk-In dental clinic Mon am. I took a hotel car over and got it fixed (Ellen, the dentist went to Howard Un.) She said I had an infection under there and that's why it came out. Cost $60. She prescribed antibiotics, for which I paid $8 for 21 pills, and we had lunch at the mall and got a bus back. I got off in town, and went to the internet cafe, and then went to a store that sold Bahamian produced products and got post cards and gifts for the grandchildren etc,
granddaughter wearing the hat I bought

granddaughter wearing the hat I bought

granddaughter on the left holding a squid doll

granddaughter on the left holding a squid doll


and got the bus ($1) back to the marina. We walked down and had dinner at the Poop Deck -a restaurant at a marina several blocks down
Poop Deck Restaurant from the street

Poop Deck Restaurant from the street


Gifts $81.60
Lunch $11.65
Dinner Poop Deck $42.55
Double bridges from Poop Deck

Double bridges from Poop Deck


Transport (bus and taxi) $13.00
Internet Cafe $9.75
Dentist and antibiotic $68.00

Tuesday, January 29, 2002
We expected to leave for the Exumas on Tues. but as we were untying Tues. the guy threw me a line and knocked my glasses (bifocal-tinted lenses) off into the water. Bob was untying us from the back piling and I had to yell at him several times to make him understand - the motor is loud and he's a little deaf. So we stayed another day. When the current got less so we could see the bottom , we could see where the glasses were (the sunshine was bright enough to make the lenses darken), we retrieved them with the pool net. (I had 2 backup pairs but these were the good ones.)
West end of the harbor looking south

West end of the harbor looking south


East Villa Restaurant sign From a taxicab speeding down East Bay Street

East Villa Restaurant sign From a taxicab speeding down East Bay Street


East Villa Restaurant $38.10
Misc $2.19

Wednesday January 30, 2002
We left for Allen's Cay. It is uninhabited (except for a population of iguanas). As we left Nassau, I tried to send another email, but the phone was full of static.
Leaving the harbor going east

Leaving the harbor going east


1040911-Shore_on_east_side_of_harbour_Nassau.jpgFort Montagu from our boat as we left the harbour

Fort Montagu from our boat as we left the harbour

Looking back at the bridges

Looking back at the bridges


We had a windy ride (18-20 knots) down to Allan's Cay (sailed some). I had used the waypoints in one of the guidebooks to avoid the majority of the coral heads so we could sail in a fairly relaxed way. We anchored off the west coast after following a Nonsuch into the harbor and deciding there wasn't enough room for us to anchor (there were a lot of other boats in there) especially since Bob didn't want to use 2 anchors against current. The trip was 37.8 nm.

January 31, 2002
Allen's Cay at sunrise

Allen's Cay at sunrise


We sat off of Allans for 2 days, but it was too windy for us to go in and see the iguanas in our little dinghy, or even to swim. I read the various guides and cataloged the weather report times and channels on the SSB. I found that we can get Armed Forces Radio (sometimes it is WETA National Public Radio) on the SSB so I programmed their frequencies in.
Iguana

Iguana


The ‘two captains’ (from the Grand Bahama Bank trip to the Berry Islands) were anchored a bit north of us (still talking on the radio). A catamaran came in and anchored to the south of us on the 31st. We also saw a scuba boat come in from Nassau on a day trip. I heard from someone that they visited after this boat, and all the lobsters that they thought they saw turned out to be just the heads - the dives had taken the tails and left the heads.
Catamaran and other boats off Allan's Cay

Catamaran and other boats off Allan's Cay

February 1st, 2002
We motored 7 nm down to Highborne Cay and anchored. I found that the BATELCO tower was blown down in Hurricane Michelle, and was just now being rebuilt, so no email was possible. We dinghied in and I went for a swim off the beach - was too cold for Bob-about 77 deg. We were anchored at the north end of the beach, and could watch the guys building the tower from the boat.
Batelco Tower

Batelco Tower


About this time, we realized that the weather from Nassau would be repeated on the VHF radio almost every day about 7:30. Someone would come up on Channel 16 and tell us what channel to listen to. I was by now also listening to Carolyn Wardle’s BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association) radio report (4003 USB) from Nassau at 0700, and the cruiser’s net also run by Carolyn on the SSB/ham at 0720 (7096 LSB). [These are radio frequencies -USB is Upper Side Band, and LSB is Lower Side Band)

February 2, 2002

Bob pulled the anchor, and had a little bit of chest pain, which he didn’t tell me about. We motored around into Highborne Marina (1.2 nm), carefully coming in on the two ranges.
One of two ranges for entering the marina with materials for building the tower

One of two ranges for entering the marina with materials for building the tower


RosalieAnn in Highborne Cay

RosalieAnn in Highborne Cay


Sand piper

Sand piper


They had no phone service either and have to relay the radio messages down from Nassau and up from the Land and Sea Park. I swam off the beach, and then we went up to the store via golf cart. Bob bought a big bag of preformed frozen hamburger, and I got "Guide to Birds of the West Indies". The boat next to us gave us half of a big bull dolphin that they had caught already cleaned. It was Delicious. Bob bought some bread from Janet. There is no restaurant here, but you can usually call on the radio, and Janet will deliver food to your boat.
Janet's flyer

Janet's flyer


This evening, however, there was an all-you-can eat buffet consisting of conch chowder, barbeque ribs, mac & cheese, potato salad, tossed salad, homemade bread, choc cake & pineapple cake $25@ and drink extra. Bob went back to the boat to get drinks for us. We had a good time talking to the guys who were putting up the tower, and also some folks with two kids on a boat named PISTACH. They were headed back to Miami to the boat show. The island is very pretty, but the marina has no toilets and no pumpout but they want no sewage. This particular day, there was also no breeze and we were eaten alive by no-see-ums, with a side attack by flies & a few mosquitoes. The marina had lots of bird feeders around which attract the bananquits.
Feeders with beach in background

Feeders with beach in background


710344-Feeders_on_Highborne_Exuma_District.jpgFeeders with marina in the background

Feeders with marina in the background


The birds also visited us on our boat (right in our slip).
644204-Bananaquit_Exuma_District.jpgBananaquites on the jib sheet

Bananaquites on the jib sheet


February 3, 2002 Notorious Normans- Because it was so expensive, hot and buggy, we left in the morning and went down to Norman's Cay,
Sky reflected in the water

Sky reflected in the water


The Brief Story on Normans:
Norman's Cay, one of the longest islands in the Exumas, is approximately 6 miles long, about 100 feet wide. Almost all of the cay is elevated with steep hills on the west shore that rises to 40'. There's a large unused and unlite antenna tower near the old clubhouse at the southern end of the island that is often mistaken for Batelco Tower. A beach stretches for nearly the entire length of the western shore. The Bahamas have long been a haven for pirates, privateers, wreckers, bootleggers and blockade runners. But in the 1970s and 80s a river of money from drug smuggling that dwarfed all previous periods of prosperity from illegal activity flooded into the country like a tidal wave. While Andros and Abaco were also involved, the center of this activity was on Norman's Cay

In 1977, a Columbian of German ancestry named Carlos Lehder, who was a part of the Medellin cocaine Cartel, bought a villa on Norman's Cay. Carlos was apparently a quite a forceful flamboyant character with big ideas. His idea was that drug running could be even more profitable if small planes were used to fly cocaine in to the States, rather than using human mules flying commercial flights with suitcases full of drugs. In 1979, he bought half of the 650 acre Norman's Cay for $900,000.00. His purchase (under the aegis of International Dutch Resources, Inc.) included the old Norman's Cay Yacht club, dock and airstrip. Now, boaters were often chased away by guards with guns, and there was at least one sailboat found with several dead bodies aboard in the area.
26371787812344-Another_boat_..ormans_Cay.jpg
All this activity soon attracted the attention of the DEA of course. Their task force (called Operation Caribe) had the cay under surveillance from a Coast Guard cutter offshore, from agents on Shroud Cay, and from agents who were disguised as boaters feigning mechanical breakdown. Lehder was arrested during a raid in 1979, but he had been tipped off and the cay was spotless, and it is said that he was released after supplying the Bahamian police officers with a suitcase which was said to contain $250,000. An irate DEA official charged that Lehder owned "..the whole damned country". The DEA began arresting Lehder's pilots and confiscating his shipments. In 1981 they handed down a 39 count indictment against him and 13 others, but Carlos was not too concerned based on previous actions of the Bahamian government. In 1983, an NBC News broadcast implicated the Bahamian Government including the Prime Minister, but no charges were ever filed.

After his new plane crashed into the water east of the marina dock, he left the cay and began living as a fugitive in Columbia. He was finally captured there and extradited to the US, where he was convicted and sentenced to life without parole plus 135 years. His exact prison location is apparently a secret. For more information on Lehder, check a PBS Frontline story. In addition, there is an interview with George Jung which was also done by Frontline.
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The 2001 movie "Blow" starring Penelope Cruz, with Johnny Depp as George Jung was supposedly filmed or set on Norman's Cay. George met Carlos in prison in 1974 before he bought Normans.

When the DEA finally caught Carlos, George Jung was one of the main witnesses and he walked away from any prosecution or prison sentence in return for his testimony. However, he couldn't stay away from smuggling for which he was to be in prison until 2014 when he would be 72 years old. Little is left of Normans notorious drug running past except some bullet holes in the buildings on the southern end of the island, a ruined 'Berlin wall' dividing the north from the south end of the island, and what one guidebook calls "an evil feel". I must be atmosphere impaired because I didn't feel especially creepy there.
Runway

Runway


The runway is still there, along with the wrecked airplane in the harbor. Small private planes fly in and out of the airstrip bound for MacDuffs Bar or his vacation cabins. One of the guidebooks indicates that visitors are to wait to be invited into the northern end of the island.

Back to our trip
The trip was only 11.3 nm and the water was like glass. We saw either the bitter end of the Norman Stake, or something else sticking up above the water off the sand bar. We also saw SEA WOLF (the dive boat we’d seen in Bimini), and ADELAIDE came out of the anchorage off the Highborne and followed us. There was a very big motor yacht named MARIE’S DREAM anchored off Highborne – too big to get into the marina. This time, Bob did not even go in to LOOK at the anchorage on the east side of the island where the airplane is wrecked. We just anchored west of Normans.
Anchorage off Normans with plane

Anchorage off Normans with plane


We took the dinghy and went in to the beach, and then walked to MacDuff's bar. Bob had a Sprite and I had a rum revenge without the rum. (Pineapple, orange & coconut). Afterwards we walked back to the beach and I snorkeled some on the way back to the boat and dived on the anchor which had dug in on one side. One of the planes from the airstrip flew over the boats anchored west of Normans Cay as if they were taking pictures from the air of the five boats anchored there. I took pictures of him.
Airplane circling over Norman's Cay

Airplane circling over Norman's Cay


I thought we could get the Super Bowl on Armed Forces Radio but it wasn't broadcast there. Some people went in to MacDuff’s to watch. The TV didn’t have a very reliable signal. I heard later that they lost the signal just as the final field goal in the last quarter was kicked.

The barman at Normans had been warning everyone of a front that was supposed to come through and people were panicking and trying to get inside the Norman's harbor because of expected west winds. (The harbor comfortably holds about 6-8 boats, and there were 25 or so in there, and the same at Allen's Cay inside.) Bob didn't think it would be a problem, as nothing like that was predicted on the weather we heard.

Monday, Feb 4, 2002 - Shroud Cay

We motor sailed to Shroud Cay. Bob had some more chest pain when he pulled the anchor that he thought was maybe indigestion, and again he didn’t tell me about it. We went about 10 miles down to Shroud Cay which was an uninhabited cay at the north end of the Exumas Land and Sea Park. We anchored where we were protected from the NE, E, and SE, but not much from the SW, W or NW. We have been 384 nm since we left Key West
Shroud Cay

Shroud Cay


February 5, 2002

The front did come through, and it was VERY rolly, even on our big heavy boat.

A French Canadian boat that anchored next to us couldn't stand it, and left. If we had any place we could have gone, we might have gone too. Neither of us could sleep. There was a catamaran that came in and went into the little shallow cove (much too shallow for us) in the interior of the cay. (The word “cay” is pronounced ‘key’ and not ‘kay’.) But the anchor showed no signs of dragging or anything, and morning did come. We rested most of Tuesday. By this time, I was regularly listening to Carolyn on the BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue) radio. Carolyn has a very distinctive English voice.
After the storm off Shroud

After the storm off Shroud


When we talked to Herb, we told him that the winds had been from the NW, N, NE between 15 and 23 knots the previous night. We could see the lighthouse to the west of us at night which was nice because a lot of the navigation aids aren't in good repair. I had been worried about not being in contact with my 93 year old mother. I had indicated in an email that I might be out of communication for a couple of days, but this was now a week, and the next BATELCO (Bahamas Telephone Company) tower was down at Staniel Cay, and we were planning to stay in the Park for several days. There was a little boat that had come in and anchored near us for the night, and he said he could send email via SSB, so I asked him to send one to our daughter saying that we were fine so that she could reassure mother, which he did.

BASRA periodically sends out messages for cruisers to pass along. For instance, a 51 ft. boat named TAHOE with someone aboard named Steve was to call his sister. The emergency for VHF radio contact is 242-322-3877.

We took the dinghy in and explored the cay a little on foot, and I did a little snorkeling.

I'm getting better about getting into the dinghy using the web ladder that Bob made. We also registered for a mooring at the park by radio. The catamaran left.

Wednesday February 6, 2002 - Heart Attack

I called the Land and Sea Park to see if we had a mooring. I knew they didn’t have any for that day, but I was hoping that if we went down to Hawksbill Cay today, that tomorrow or the next day we could get a mooring at park headquarters. Bob pulled the anchor so we could go another 10 or so miles. It was now late morning.

Bob came back to the cockpit, sat down and said, "We're going back to Nassau". I was a little confused and it was at that point that I heard about the chest pain. I had a quiet anxiety attack, and then said that we couldn't get all the way back to Nassau that day as it was too far with such a late start. I suggested we go back into the Highborne Cay marina, which was not too far away (and we would not have to anchor so Bob would not have to pick up the 55 pound anchor off the bow), and he agreed.

Later he said that he had to sit down and rest while pulling the anchor (manual winch), so he knew something was wrong.

I called the Land and Sea Park on the VHF radio to have them take me off the list, explaining that I thought Bob might have had a heart attack. Another boat came up immediately and asked the park if he could have our mooring. The park volunteer explained that we were just giving up our place on the waiting list and not a mooring. And they gave him a few groups for asking
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The trip to Highborne was 15.5 nm. When he heard about the chest pains Ian at Highborne wanted to fly Bob out in a seaplane (Ian thought it would be about $325), but Bob resisted doing that, as he still thought he might just have bruised his chest, because he didn't have any of what he thought of as heart attack symptoms. (I knew differently, but I didn't say anything. And I didn't want to be left in an expensive marina with the boat which I knew I could not sail myself.) Ian was able to make his phone work enough to call the Nassau Harbour Club and talked to Peter the marina manager. He got a place for us there, although it was almost full. I wrote Highbourne another check for the dockage fees. (They will take a credit card, but there's a surcharge for that. No surcharge for a personal check.)
Conch Fisherman at Highborne

Conch Fisherman at Highborne

Barbara - marina manager and local fisherman

Barbara - marina manager and local fisherman


I tried to talk to Herb on the SSB, but couldn\'t get through because we were down in a teacup valley.
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There was a boat at Normans who *could* talk to him. They were also returning to Nassau to pick up someone coming in by plane. Herb told them that he didn’t think there would be a window until Saturday. I talked to the other boat on the VHF afterwards, and they said if they could catch up to us, they would lead us into the harbor. I thanked them and told them I was sure they could catch us as we weren't very fast even if we were bigger than they were.
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In the marina, I saw a sea turtle which was secured to a little skiff by one flipper. He was being taken back to the Atlantis aquarium. I didn''t get a picture.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:33 Archived in Bahamas

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