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Nassau to The Pond Within Norman's Cay

Updated: May 22, 2022

We were ecstatic, to say the least, to get going to the Exumas and get the heck out of Nassau. The grocery stores and restaurants were great in Nassau, but other than that, there is no other reason for a cruising sailboat to stop there. This, of course is merely my opinion….but who am I ? All I know is we had some bad luck there, if having two other boats collied with your docked boat considered bad luck. But, I guess I should be an optimist and say that since we did not sustain any damage from the two collisions, we actually had good luck. But what about the currents ripping through the harbor and the fact that the entire harbor has ZERO no wake zones. The local boats speed through there like they are in a race.We rocked and rolled at our T-Dock all the daylight hours we were there. Okay, I digress….I love Nassau…..hmmm…..


Leaving Nassau Via the Eastern Channel

Well, okay...there was one other good thing about stopping in Nassau, I was able to find an Explorer Chartbook for the Exumas and Ragged Islands at the marine store across the street from the marina. After using the Explorer Chart book for the Bimini Islands, I found that these chart books are rock solid with accurate information, and are must-haves for cruising the Bahamas. Cross referencing the waypoints from the Chartbook with our Gamin plotter and iPad running Isailor proved to be combinations that worked well together. Of course, in the Bahamas, a lot of places still require visual navigation even if you have the best of navigational tools.


The Great Bahama Bank Near The Yellow Bank


So, we left the Nassau Yacht Haven Marina dock at 0830 on Thursday, January 27th. Our target destination…Norman’s Cay in the northern Exumas. We had decent winds, so the only thing of concern for this day passage was the fact that we were going to pass over the Yellow bank about 15 nautical miles out of Nassau. The Yellow Bank is a patch of coral heads in depths of 8 to 14 feet that require visual navigation, meaning a body should be on the bow of the boat keeping an eye out for dark patches of water. Cruisers call these coral heads in shallow water bombies, for obvious reasons. They can do major damage to, or even sink a boat. We had about 12 knots of wind, so we were at full sail and cruising between 5.5 to 6 knots. The sea state was not too bad, since the winds were light until about the time we raised our sails. The sun was out and we were crossing the bank at about mid-tide. So, we sailed through the yellow bank with no issues at all. We only had to disengage the autopilot a couple of times to navigate around some bombies.


The Entry To Normans Cut


We arrived at Norman’s Cay right on schedule, (1600) just as the tide was peaking at high status. We worked our way through Norman’s Cut, then around the east side of Boot Cay. Norman’s Cay is a very unique island (cay) that has an opening on the east side that vessels can use to enter a pond section in the center of the island. We were wanting to get in there because there was a storm, or what cruisers call a blow, coming in a couple of days. This blow was coming from the West/North West, so the pond inside of Norman’s Cay was a perfect anchorage to give us protection.


The Narrow Entrance To The Pond At Norman's Cay


We had another cruiser with a catamaran give us a heads-up on how to enter “the pond”. It still made me nervous and anxious to even think about going in there. We went in real slow, with Sandra on the bow watching for the shallows. There was a cruiser coming by us in a dinghy that motioned for us to get closer to the shore right as our chart plotter was alarming that Namid’s 3’8” draft keels were in shallow water. Then, yes….our port keel just barely scraped the sand. Once we moved over a bit to starboard, all was good. We then motored by the beach near the entry to the pond where a bunch of folks were on the beach watching us enter. We received several “thumbs-up” gestures once we cleared the shallow entry. Whew…That was…ummm…fun !


Navigating The Shallows Leading Into "The Pond" Anchorage


The View Looking Back At Where We Entered "The Pond"



Not Quite Out Of The Woods Yet, But Almost There


Once the entry is cleared, the pond gets deep, and big. We were surprised to see several full keel monohulls in the anchorage. That pretty much told me that I didn’t enter perfectly, but that’s okay…we made it.


The Anchorage In " The Pond"


We found a perfect spot to anchor on the west side of the pond, not too far from the entry and relaxed a bit. We wanted to fly the drone to get some great footage of the anchorage before the wind picked up, but the aircraft would not communicate with the remote, or a computer. This was a major bummer. Here we were…just arriving in the most beautiful part of the Bahamas, with the most beautiful water in the World…and the drone was broke. AAARRRG. Ground shots will have to do, for now.


One Of The Homes With A Stunning View On Norman's Cay


The following day we explored Norman’s Cay and found it to be very beautiful. The Cay has some history that is interesting in that it was owned by, and served as a headquarters for Carlos Lehder back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Carlos used the Cay as a distribution point to traffic his Colombian cocaine to the United States until the U.S. and Bahamian governments cracked down on him (no pun intended). We saw no remaining signs of Carlos’s existence on the island. We had read that one could see the reminisce of house that was called “The Volcano”, but someone must have bought the property. It had a no trespassing sign and looked to have construction in progress. We saw several modern, very nice homes on the cay. Real Estate sales on the cay appeared to be in full swing. The Cay has an airport, restaurant and a nice marina.We did not go to the restaurant or the marina. At the time of this writing, the marina was priced at $7.00 a foot to dock a vessel. This is a joke for your average sailor, especially when there are so many great anchorages and other marinas in the Exumas. Of course, the mega-yachts that visit The Bahamas can afford it. So be it !

The Clear Water and a Lone Plant Growing in The North Part Of The Pond



The Blow Is Brewing

The blow came soon enough, and it was a big one. We saw 25 knot sustained winds with gusts reaching over 35 knots. Inside the pond, conditions were perfect. Namid hardly moved and we slept good. As the blow was dwindling down on our last full day at the cay, we took the dinghy through the sand flats to the submerged wreckage of a sunken plane on the south side of the cay near Boot Cay. This plane had crashed during the Carlos Leader days, and the wreckage was still in pretty good shape. It was a great snorkel.



Sandra Enjoying The Snorkeling At The Norman's Cay Plane Crash Sight



The Plane Crash Site Is Still Somewhat InTact


Our three days at Norman's Cay were memorable, and the clear waters of the Exumas were exciting to see. We were ready to head south to see much more of this paradise !


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