Un­der­way

Cruising World - - Contents -

For many sailors, the Ex­uma is­land chain in the cen­tral Ba­hamas holds a spe­cial place in their cruis­ing mem­o­ries. I know it does for me. I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to visit these is­lands sev­eral times, be­gin­ning in 2003 and most re­cently in 2017. Each oc­ca­sion is a blend of dis­cov­ery and home­com­ing — the ex­cite­ment of an­chor­ing some­where new, or the com­fort of re­vis­it­ing an old fa­vorite. The Exumas, which in­clude some 365 cays and is­lands spread over 130 nau­ti­cal miles, of­fer plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for ei­ther.

New for 2018, both The Moor­ings and Dream Yacht Charter of­fer bare­boat and crewed char­ters from bases in Nas­sau, which is about a 30-mile sail to the north­ern end of the Exumas chain. If you’re plan­ning a cruise of the Ba­hamas, here are a few of my fa­vorite stops in the north­ern and cen­tral Exumas that are within reach of a week­long charter. ALLAN’S CAY AND HIGHBOURNE CAY Near the top of the Exumas, Allan’s Cay is a pop­u­lar first stop on a cruise of the is­lands. Af­ter a day travers­ing the Yel­low Banks from Nas­sau, I am al­ways more than ready to jump in the wa­ter for a swim or take a walk on a beach. Allan’s and its neigh­bor Leaf Cay have an­other draw be­sides their lo­ca­tion — their rep­tile res­i­dents. If you land your dinghy on the beach, igua­nas will come out of the brush to greet you, which makes for an en­ter­tain­ing walk along the shore.

Next down the line is Highbourne Cay, which makes my list due to the great snor­kel­ing in the area, both near the an­chor­age and at reefs a dinghy ride away, and the fa­cil­i­ties at the Highbourne Cay Ma­rina. If you’re in need of a few pro­vi­sions, wa­ter or fuel, the ma­rina of­fers one of the few fuel docks in the Exumas, and the store is well-stocked (al­beit on the pricey side).

The waters off Shroud Cay, which is part of the Ex­uma Cays Land and Sea Park, are the per­fect place for a quiet pad­dle to en­joy the sun­set.

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