Big Major's Cay/Bay of Pigs

Ocean Gem
Geoff & Eileen Mander
Sat 10 May 2014 17:09

Date: Saturday 10th May 2014

Position: 24:11.055N 76:27.557W


We were keen to get away from Little Farmer’s Cay as soon as possible.  The good news was that we had now gone sufficiently far northwards through The Exumas for the depths in the channel that runs in the lee of the islands to be useable.  The bad news was that in order to get into this channel we would have to sail around the southern end of Little Farmer’s Cay where the water was quite shallow.


So we waited until the tide has risen high enough for us to estimate that we would be able to get through. We were putting all of our faith in the depths shown by our charts being correct and trying to forget the errors that we had found in them only a few hours earlier.  In the event we were scraping the bottom at times.  If an unfortunate mollusc had tried to pass under our keel as we sailed by then they would have been given a nasty headache.  After what seemed an impossibly long time to sustain with clenched buttocks and held breath we were past the worst and into relatively deep water again.  It’s strange how in circumstances such as this having two feet of water under your keel can feel as acceptable as ocean depths.


We were then able to enjoy a delightful few hours of sailing on the inside of the Exumas with full sail set, calm seas, light breeze, impossibly effulgent turquoise water and no other boats in sight.


By early afternoon we rounded Harvey’s Cay and found a sheltered anchorage in the lee of Big Major’s Cay, which is about 1 mile away from Staniel Cay.  This was quite a stunning spot.  A long stretch of gently shelving water with a sandy bottom and no coral heads in sight worked its way to a white beach with luxuriant green vegetation ashore. It was a popular anchorage with quite a large number of boats, but there was room for many more.


The beach was occupied by a small drove of pigs which were quite famous.  So much so that the bay was often referred to as ‘The Bay of Pigs’.  The pigs were as happy to meet people from the anchored boats as sailors were to get close to the pigs; the accepted currency of intercommunication being scraps of food.  The pigs were so keen to get to the dinghies moving towards the beach that they would swim out to greet them as they approached and even try to scramble into the dinghies.  With some of the pigs being as heavy as a large man this could have had unfortunate consequences.