- Katharine Hesmer
DAY 76 | March 19, 2022
Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Allan's Cay to Norman's Cay, Exuma Cays, Bahamas
KORKZcrew is the blue dot on the map.
A quick reminder to those of you wondering why on earth I'm living in the past. This is my effort to continue documenting our trip to the Exuma Cays this past spring, just for our own reference. I do sincerely hope you'll find some helpful information here as well, even if it's several months old. Ron plans to head south again in November with my cousin Paul Chipley, and Greta, Skeet and I plan to meet him in mid-December in Marsh Harbour in the Abacos. In the meantime, you can follow our Wilmington-based adventures on Instagram by clicking here.
I have to say that I've seen "Allan's" referenced a number of different ways, and am still unsure as to which is correct. There's an Allen Cay further south in the Exumas, but many websites refer to the one just north of Highbourne Cay as "Allen" or "Allen's" or "Allan's". If I've gotten this wrong, I apologize. Maybe it's one of those unanswerable questions that make people waste the first three sentences of their blog post. (To this day, after living in Wilmington for 26 years, we STILL don't know if Kerr Avenue rhymes with "purr" or "par". These are pressing issues that must be addressed! 😂)
This morning we watched as our friends on board C Marie (an awesome 47-foot Great Harbour) left the anchorage at Allan's for Nassau around 7:30. An hour or so later I took my FIT exercise class on the bow, complete with that wonderful Bahamian breeze, and a sketchy internet connection that kept dropping me from the class. I'm still trying to figure out which is less reliable, the Pepwave router or my hotspot, but I usually alternate between the two. It's honestly pretty amazing that I can get an internet connection at ALL in the middle of nowhere! Skeet has been on top of which locations in the Exuma Cays are closest to cell towers so we can continue uninterrupted with work and school obligations, and so far, so good.
While I was jumping around on the bow, Ron and Skeet discussed whether we should stay at this anchorage or continue south. I was honestly happy to stay OR go (I mean, how could you NOT be?!), but I'm also realizing how much I love to keep moving and seeing new things. Even though we are essentially retracing our steps from a few months ago, every trek is a new experience because you never know what you’ll see, plus it's the Exumas — it's just breathtakingly beautiful everywhere you look.
Here's a quick glimpse of our anchorage at Allan's / Allan / Allen's / Allen Cay 😜:
I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the navigational resources and planning tools Skeet and Ron have referenced the most during this trip are:
(1) Waterway Guide
(2) Aqua Maps
(3) Predict Wind
(4) Active Captain
(6) Garmin GPS (installed on board KORKZcrew)
With the weather in a particularly cooperative mood, we opted to head for Norman's Cay. It was a gorgeous day, full of blue skies and even bluer water. We saw lots of super yachts around Highbourne Cay, which is known to have relatively protected anchorages for these monsters.
From Charterworld.com: 👇🏼 "Motor yacht Teleost can accommodate 12 guests in 6 staterooms. Her elegant yet comfortable Main Saloon located on the main deck is perfect for relaxing or enjoying the varied selection of Music, Board games, movie and book libraries. Teleost’s Dining room on the main deck forward has formal seating for 12 which can be enclosed with a recessed door. A Powder room is located just forward of the dining room for convenience. Her Skylounge on the upper deck has a TV/DVD, Wet bar and powder room forward, Dining for 12 with retractable awning. Outside, the ample aft deck has built-in stern seating with dining for 12 and a Wet bar. Boarding is possible via the stern passerelle or from the side. The swim platform with ladder is a great base for water sports and also has a large BBQ located on the platform. The Sundeck above boasts a Spa Pool, wet bar with 4 stools, built-in stern seating, awning, BBQ, 4 x sunbeds and 4 x sun chairs and panoramic views."
From Yachtcharterfleet.com: 👆🏼
"The 54.3m/178'2" motor yacht 'Spirit' by the Dutch shipyard Amels offers flexible accommodation for up to 11 guests in 5 cabins and features interior styling by Italian designer Nuvolari Lenard. Offering an abundance of social and dining options, as well as a highly attentive crew, luxury charters aboard motor yacht Spirit are set to be truly magical whatever the destination. She is equipped with a spa, beach club and gym."
More pics en route to Norman's:
All along the way to Norman's, we watched in fascination as an unusually large number of crazy-fast motor boats kept passing us, heading south to destinations unknown, packed with passengers and heading in the same general direction as KORKZcrew. (Keep in mind that "crazy fast" to us is anything over 8 knots. But seriously, these folks were FLYING.)
In addition to the incredible scenery which was amazing in and of itself, we were further entertained during our journey by catching glimpses of the UNC/Baylor game. Never would I have dreamed that I could watch the NCAA Tournament when we originally planned this trip, but through the magic of our router and the luck of a decent cell signal, we were able to tune into this matchup. I have to admit I was pretty darn happy with our seats. 😜
On top of yachts, speed boats, and basketball games, we added a seaplane sighting to today's experiences. It circled around 3 times before ultimately landing near one of the super yachts, and we watched as that floating mansion launched a dinghy to greet the plane.
As we approached Norman's, it became clear that this was the "mystery" destination for all of those crowded motor boats that had left us in the dust hours before. They had rented the beach front for a private party involving rum and that's all I know. Or remember. But in all seriousness, we didn't participate (as far as you know) but instead observed the craziness from a safe distance. Crowds aren't my bag, and this was quite the crowd.
After getting KORKZcrew anchored, we headed to shore by dinghy to get lunch at the only restaurant on the island, which also happens to be part of a pretty charming and tiny resort: MacDuffs.
We'd walked along the beachfront of MacDuffs on our first visit to Norman's, but this was our first visit to their restaurant, which is a cozy spot set back from the beach and tucked away under the surrounding trees and flowering bushes. Here we took our chances at being able to keep a cell signal, continue to watch the UNC game, AND not piss off our neighboring restaurant guests by being annoyingly vocal fans. Quite the challenge, as the game morphed into a true nail biter, but the only person within earshot of our self-serving mission was the waitress, and she was super cute and very cool about it all.
We asked her about that big party on the beach, and she told us that MacDuffs sometimes rents out its beachfront for private events. Apparently most of these gatherings are small, quiet, and intimate, and it seems the scale of this event took them by surprise. We didn’t walk down there, but you could hear a band thumping and see smoke from a huge grill of some sort. They also had a bunch of banners on the beach that said Jack Daniel’s and Bacardi. I think I counted around 50 huge motor boats anchored near the beach. Let’s just hope whoever was driving all those people BACK to Nassau wasn’t partaking in the rum run 😳. UNC just about gave us a heart attack during lunch, when that task is usually reserved only for my shameless consumption of french fries. Carolina had been up by 25 due in large part to Brady Manek, who was absolutely on fire until he threw an elbow and got himself ejected from the game. At this point, UNC fell apart and lost everything they’d gained. Then by some miracle, Carolina managed to hold off the Baylor comeback and take the game into overtime. Now we were finished with lunch but running out of battery life on our cell phones, so we made a beeline back to KORKZcrew to watch the rest of the game, with Skeet giving us the play-by-play along the way. Skeet is SO into the NCAA tournament and it’s pretty cool to feed off of his enthusiasm. He knows what seed each team is and is really good with all of the statistics (which makes a lot of sense since he’s Mr Fact and loves details). Because we are out of the country, there are some NCAA games we can watch and some we can’t . It’s a REALLY good thing Skeet is here because he helps us use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so we can tune in as if we were in the United States. If you’d like to know what a VPN is exactly, I can put you in touch with Skeet 🤓. I'm pretty comfortable with technology, but some of this stuff makes my head explode. VPN's would definitely fall under the head-explosion category.
I have to say that the Carolina/Baylor game was simultaneously fun AND hard to watch, but it was such a relief that UNC won in the end. I was especially happy for Hubert Davis as a first-year coach taking his team to the sweet 16. Sweet indeed.
Once the game ended, we all took a dip off the back of the boat with Steve at his usual lookout post. It bears repeating: just a gorgeous day. The water is still a bit chilly but it's definitely warmer than the last time we were here, so I wasn't as reticent to take the plunge. While Ron and Steve took the dinghy to the beach and went for a walk, I tried to fly my drone only to learn we’re too close to the tiny airport at Norman's. The app for my drone has now made it so that you can’t take off without permission in certain areas, which is pretty smart. When I started flying drones back in 2017, it was all so new that these types of restrictions didn't exist.
Had a great FaceTime chat with Whitney tonight, and learned that she and Will have just bought a house! How exciting is THAT?! They close in 60 days and will be about 45 minutes outside of Melbourne, Australia. The distance is hard, but I’m so happy for them because THEY are so happy; and darn . . . we’ll just have to make frequent trips to Melbourne! Twist my arm. Wish KORKZcrew could make it there. That would be my ultimate dream trip, but alas it's not the boat for the job.
1.25 hours underway; 8 nautical miles traveled