Normans Cay (Cheeseburger in Paradise)
21 March 2009 | Normans Cay, Exuma Cays, Bahamas
After a short days sail, we anchored early afternoon at Normans Cay. Because of the wind direction we chose to anchor on the west side (less sheltered in general, but good protection from the west) where the anchor holding is great. In order to find one's way in, you have to feel your way through a sandy shoal and into a great anchorage, near MacDuff's Restaurant.
Normans Cay used to be a smuggling base for Columbian cocaine smugglers. Looking through the ruins we found a downed DC3 airplane (in about four feet of water), commercial looking docks (including fuel pumps), several homes, a power generations station, numerous sheds & bards, a main building with commercial kitchen and what appeared to be a school house & (of course) an airstrip and a radio tower. The kids and I enjoyed tramping around through the woods, exploring the old buildings and imagining what it must have been like back then. We were going to dive on the crashed drug-plane, but the wind was kicking up pretty good and it just didn't look like a bunch of fun trying to dive around all the rusty sharp metal with the wind and waves pushing us around.
It seems that MacDuff's is one of the buildings from the airstrip, renovated into a sail-in/fly-in restaurant. They do serve cheeseburgers-in-paradise, but come prepared for the $14 each + fries.
The kids and I bumped into a group of people on the beach cooking chicken, sausage and lobster over a fire..they invited us to dinner. Folks from several boats met on one of the larger boats, for lobster linguine (spicy), chicken, sausage and such and a time to visit. While we were visiting (it was windy) the boat began to drag anchor & was getting pretty close to the old dock..stern first. It took a half-hour or so to get the anchor up, find another spot in the dark and get the boat securely anchored again. All this made me concerned for our own boat (& Sue) on the other side of the island. We left the gathering early and found our way in the dark, around the rock and shoals (yep..I brought my handheld gps with so we had a track to follow coming home in the dark) home. The waves were pretty big, so we were full throttle up them and idle at the bottoms so prevent the bow from ploughing in and getting everyone soaked..not sure how good a job we did at this, but everyone survived the trip and we found Seawing happily & securely at anchor where we left her.
We saw a large glow in the sky and talk on the vhf radio about some kind of fire on the island that night, but never did figure out what burned. It'd be too bad if one of the old buildings burned, as they are a part of the colourful history of these islands.
We were able to get some internet at Normans, but this meant wrapping a computer into a plastic bag, going to shore through the waves and onto the beach and waiting for an opening to plug into the free internet router at MacDuff's. The internet connection is via satellite, and very slow..and the night we were there trying, quite unreliable (clouds & wind). We tried the next day, but that was during the Sunday brunch, so the counter normally used for internet, is now brunch..bummer.
Now out of propane (hey cold spaghetti from a can isn't that bad) & after a couple days or so at Normans, we sailed south for Staniel Cay. Sailing for Staniel, we missed Wardrick Wells and the entire land/sea park, but the hunt for propane drove us on.