27th Feb - 4th Mar 2013 Allens Cay, The Exumas, Bahamas Part 1

Mon 4 Mar 2013 01:15
During our short stay in Nassau we were aware that 2 weather fronts were forecast for the forthcoming week, so we departed for the Exumas in order to find a “bolt hole” for the first of these fronts.  We chose Allen’s Cay in the Exumas, which is protected from N-W winds.  Once out of Nassau, we headed out in lumpy seas towards the Porgee Rock Waypoint in order to avoid numerous shoals.   Then towards the Yellow Banks, where there are miles of coral heads lurking in just a few feet of water.  It is usual practice to stand on the bow and give directions to the helmsman to head to port or starboard where there are visible signs of dark patches on the water;  a sign of potential coral heads!  We successfully negotiated the Banks, using ‘stand on bow’ practice, but also used our forward looking sonar, which we found very reliable and appeared to have no problems in identifying the shallow areas. 
The Exumas is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 360 islands (or cays)
Map showing a few of 360 islands.  Allen’s is near ‘E’ on the compass rose.   Note the distinctive size of the ‘Yellow Banks’ hazard
DSC_7209  IMG_3262
Enjoying a superb sail............................................................................... and the first signs of the anchorage in Allen’s Cay
After 38nm and a superb sail in beautiful blue/green seas, we arrived safely through the narrow gap into Allen’s Cay and turned to port to the northern anchorage  We dropped the hook in 4 metres of water in a narrow channel, but soon noticed as we swung around with the current, that Nimue’s rudder would hit the shallow bank in the middle of the Cay.  So we had to lay a kedge anchor from Nimue’s stern, which did the trick and safely held us away from the sandbank.
Allan Cay
Through the gap (red arrow), turn to port and anchor in Allen Cay
Nimue (top right) in the narrow anchorage.  You can just make out the lightest shade of pale blue, which denotes the sand bar in the middle of the anchorage!
We were quite close to the shore!                                          Michael providing lines to Val off Rising Star to enable them to lay a kedge
Sure enough, we woke the next day to strong winds, which built to 30 knots throughout the day. With these type of winds, boats in the Cay soon started to drag and then had difficulty re-anchoring!
With the strength of the wind, the waves soon start to break over the sandbank and this yacht eventually drags.
After a couple of days the winds eventually subsided, so we made our first adventure ashore by dinghy.  Allen’s Cay is notorious for Iguanas and as soon as we landed the dinghies, Iguanas came shooting out of their hiding places to see if we had brought any food for them!  As herbivores, they love lettuce leaves and the like, but we didn’t get too close, as they have been known to get aggressive!
Val & Lisa arriving in their posh AB dinghy with Rising Star in the background
All the dinghies safely landed on Leaf Cay
The Allen Cays iguana is an endangered subspecies of the northern Bahamian rock iguana that is found on Leaf Cay.  There is a wild population of 1,000 animals.
The Iguanas finding the odd lettuce leaf or leek!
Don’t get too close............
Walking across Leaf Cay, we came across these ruins. 
Featuring Val & Lisa, Joe & Michael.................................
.......................and ME