Highbourne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Position: 24:43.156N 76:49.961W
Date: Monday 29th December 2014
We spent Christmas in Nassau and enjoyed our time there. Its not the prettiest of places but it does have some of the benefits of a large city. We had some paperwork to catch up on and the availability of reasonable internet connections helped. I also had an engine problem that delayed me a couple of days. A couple of days before Xmas whilst changing fuel filters I inadvertently sheared the fuel bleed screw on the top of the filter housing. When I tried to call Volvo (both in the USA & Europe) to order a replacement part I was told that they were shut until several days into the New Year. Clearly their holiday needs were more important than their customer’s needs. Waiting for Volvo to get back to work and then to post a part to me was clearly going to involve a long wait. I eventually found a replacement bolt that was about the correct size and used that to block the hole. Hopefully it will suffice until I get to St Martin which I think will be the first place that is likely to have a Volvo agent.
It was my third (and Eileen’s second) stay in the city and in my opinion it has an undeserved reputation amongst cruisers. I’ve lost count of the number of warnings I’ve been given by other sailers about the dangers of the city. Some of them seem to love being the wise counsel that offers stern warnings complete with a list of things that we must never do whilst there. If pushed some of them admit that they have never actually been there; they avoid it of course because it is dangerous! I’m sure that there have been robberies or worse (just like many other cities around the world), but so far we’ve encountered nothing that could be described as hostile. Let’s hope it stays that way.
On Sunday 28th December we sailed away intending to cross the Exuma Banks. When we had made the trip in the other direction earlier in the year we had found a large number of coral heads on the yellow banks half way across which were quite tricky to work around. This time we took a more indirect dog leg approach that first took us south to the white banks, then a turn eastwards towards the northern Exumas. Although a few miles further we found almost no coral heads on this route.
As we approached Highbourne Cay we could see in the far distance a large number of white blobs that obscured our view of large parts of the island. As we got closer we could see an astounding number of large motor yachts anchored off both Highbourne and other islands to the north. Clearly the New Year holidays are a very successful time for large yacht charters. I’ve never seen so many all clustered in one place.
Once we had worked our way through the armada we found that there was a lot of room to anchor in shallower water near the island, and dropped our hook in beautiful clear turquoise water over sand.