Highbourne Cay Marina, Exumas, Bahamas

A stationary front combined with a stationary compression trough to make the weather here highly unstable.  Since I had some copyediting to do and needed a day of internet service, we slipped into the marina mid-day yesterday (Fri the 13th) – we were lucky to get a slip – with the bad weather forecast, everyone’s trying to get in – this is the only marina (read:  protected from more than just the east) in this area of the Exumas.  Mostly it’s inhabited by giant mega-yachts, we are the only sailboat in the marina.  Very different from what I anticipated when I dreamed of cruising the Bahamas, not bad, just different.  Here’s a photo essay to tantalize you with the possibilities…

Hmmm… only one challenge with this fancy marina … the tide swing seems like it’s at least 3-4 feet.  When you combine low tide with Winterlude’s low freeboard, there are literally times I cannot get on or off the boat!  David has a hard time too, but he’s taller than I am so it’s somewhat less of a challenge!   The things you have to handle while cruising paradise!   🙂

First you have to pull the boat over to the dock with the spring line, then time it so when it’s as close as it can be, you can literally crawl out onto the dock – David demonstrates.  Getting back on is more difficult – while sitting on the dock, my feet won’t touch the deck so David pulls the boat close, then he helps me make the jump – literally!   🙂  Last night he swears one of my feet was headed toward the water, but I think he was giving me a hard time.

One more just for perspective …

Here’s another shot of Winterlude in slip #1 at the marina.  Notice there’s not much wind – in front of us is a low rise hill covered with trees and brush that’s acting as a wind block for the 30 mph winds.  According to some it’s gusting to gale force out there, we’ll have to walk to the other side and see.  Also notice the two mega-yachts behind us and the 70 foot custom aluminum trawler beside us.   It’s fun just to sit and watch the rich & maybe famous, who knows.  There must be a big surge outside because even in the marina with the rock jetty breakwater, the boat is bobbing from the swell.

The masked bandit that causes us to keep our screen doors shut and David even put in the screens around the cockpit enclosure last night.  This little guy makes himself at home in the cockpit and even tried to fly below to check out the galley!   Turned out we had to quickly replace the screens around the cockpit enclosure with the isenglass last night for a tropical downpour — David even had to take the plug out of the dinghy to let it drain while it’s hanging.  We hang it even in the marina to keep the crud and slime from growing on the bottom.

Here’s the mile long crescent beach on the Exuma Sound side of the 2 1/2 mile long island.  There are 9 beaches surrounding Highbourne Cay and this beach is billed as one of the prettiest in the Exumas.  We don’t have a frame of reference yet, but it was a very pretty beach!  And almost no trash which was a refreshing change from the Western Caribbean.The marina provides “free” bikes for our use – we took advantage of the offer to ride around the entire island.  I thought the Bahamas were supposed to be FLAT!  So either I am REALLY out of shape or there are some hills on this “flat” island!  🙂  We did stop at some beautiful beaches.  Off of this beach (which is too shallow for us to anchor, making us jealous of the catamaran that’s anchored here) there’s supposedly a protected snorkeling reef called Octopus Garden.  Maybe we’ll get to check it out tomorrow in the dinghy if it’s still protected from the brisk winds.

You have to love being on a gorgeous tropical island that has a sense of humor!  We’ve not seen any cars, let alone a bus!  No wonder this poor guy is wasting away!  There are lots of golf carts and more bicycles, mostly in the rack.  While out riding around yesterday we saw two other cyclists and one golf cart.  Not exactly rush hour!  

Here’s the marina office and little store.  The store has a pretty good selection of “stuff” – canned goods, cereal, drinks even cold beer, although sadly, no Kalik so David has yet to have his first Kalik in the Exumas.    Everything is about three times U.S. prices – the chick peas like I buy at WalMart for a buck or less are $3.20 here.  There’s some fresh produce, but obviously yesterday was not the day fresh stuff came in – I’ll have to find out what day that might be!  There are also some stone crab claws in the freezer that are calling my name, although without a price tag, I’m afraid to ask how much they might be! 

Personally, I thought the little beaches interspersed with iron rock at the south end of the island were even prettier than the supposedly prettiest beach in the Exumas.     Too bad the photos don’t do justice to the watercolors!

Can you find Winterlude in this shot of the marina taken from the fuel dock?  You can’t see her, but the mast gives away our position! 

Check out the nurse sharks hanging around the fish cleaning station.  At one time I saw 14 of them in this exact spot, but then I was distracted watching a HUGE eagle ray swim in the channel.  By the time I finished watching the eagle ray and went to get my camera, the nurse sharks swam off.

Another day cruising paradise is done.  Sunset over the rock jetty protecting us from most of the surge in the anchorage.  If you look close, you can see the entrance channel to the marina — just beyond the rock jetty are two low lying just bigger than sandbars – you pass between them.  When we were coming in there was a 2 knot current against us and David had some trouble keeping the boat off the rocks on either side of the narrow cut.

For now we’ll hang out here a couple of days until the weather stabilizes.  Anyone else been to Highbourne Cay, please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!  Jan & David


  1. Jennifer Brett via Facebook says:

    Love Highbourne Cay!

  2. Paulette says:

    I was in Highbourne Cay in 1990, wow what a difference since then. Hardly recognize the island from your pictures. When we were there it was full of sailboats, then the large vessels arrived, and lastly and hysterically a dozen kayaks traveling up the cays on a tour of the cays. Such a strange mix of boats. Glad I have the pictures. Maybe one day I will head down there again and see just how much things have changed since I took a year off to go sailing in the 89/90 season.

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