Friday, January 31, 2014

The Exumas - Allen's Cay

Sorry for the long gap since our last post, but we have been down in the Exumas which are largely void of any communications other than Marine VHF.

When we last left off, we were wrapping up a few days' stay in Spanish Wells which is part of Eleuthra.  From there we made a day-long run down to the beginning of the Exuma chain ending up at Allen's Cay.  Allen's is a really pretty little hidie-hole between two cays - except for one thing.  It's really crowded.  Not only is it one of the closest points of arrival from a number of directions, but two of the cays are home to giant iguanas which serve as an irresistible attraction.   We managed to nuzzle in and anchor for the night after one day-visitor departed.

Just a touch south across the entrance channel to the main anchorage is SW Allen's Cay which sports a nice, if not small cove with room for not much more than one boat.  It was occupied when we first arrived, but the next morning they departed and we quickly weighed anchor and went over to grab that location.  It was very, very nice, away from other boats, and a short dinghy ride or swim to the beach to visit the iguanas.  We also found excellent snorkling around the edges of the cove.

SW Allen's Cay

Giant Iguana

Giant Iguana

However, paradise didn't last.  That evening a strong wind came through and although we were well protected from the wind, the swell came right through the channel and around the corner to where we were.  Because the cove was so small, we were not more than about 100' away from the coral edges, so any anchor dragging would quickly become a disaster.  I set a variety of anchor alarms and spent the night in the salon propped up where I could see the anchor alarms and display of our position by just opening my eyes.  Between the constant watch  and heavy rolling, it was not a restful night.  In the morning we awoke to find another boat had come in over night and anchored about 50' away from us, so we decided to move back over to the other anchorage.  It was still pretty full, but we found a spot - at least for a while.

We were close to a sand bar and as the tide shifted, despite the strong wind, we started getting pushed towards the bar and were shortly going to be aground, so up came the anchor once again.  This time we moved to a spot between two boats that was a bit tight, but also about the only choice.  As we were positioning and dropping the anchor, one of the neighboring boat owners came out and stood at his bow, arms crossed, pouting.  He eventually started yelling over to us so I got him on the radio.  He complained that he had 100' of chain out and that on the next tide swing he would run into us.  Now mind you that we were in maybe 8-10 feet of water, so 50-75' of chain would be plenty,  so he was taking up a lot of room.  We debated repositioning again and instead decided to just get the hell out of there, so out we went.

Our first call was to Highbourne Cay Marina which is pretty much the only marina anywhere within about 50 miles.  No big surprise, they were full with boats escaping the blow.  So instead we went in near Highbourne where there are some small cays that looked like they might provide shelter from the westerly winds, and sure enough they did.  We found a very nice spot with good protection and excellent holding and settled in for the night.  Leaving Allen's ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Much to my amusement, a week or so later someone came by our boat down in Warderick Wells and said he was in the Allen's Cay anchorage when that guy was giving us a hard time.  He said that as soon as we left, the guy moved to exactly the spot he said we shouldn't be in.  Fortunately most cruisers aren't jerks - just a few of them.

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