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Iguanas, Birds, Coral and Fish at Allan's Cay

Sunrise at Allan's Cay with S.V. Bonita

After a magnificent sail from Nassau, at times exceeding 7.5 knots, we arrived at Allan's Cay, our first stop in the Exuma Island Chain. The anchorage is surrounded by limestone islands, has room for about 20 boats in nice sand holding broken up by some grassy spots, shallow sandbars, and some coral reefs around the outsides.

Allan's Cay is famous for the Rock Iguanas, which are endangered, protected and only live there at Allan's Cay. During the day, four or five big powerful speedboats will come roaring through the anchorage (wildly rocking all the anchored boats) and bring 30 or so tourists from the cruise liners at Nassau to the tiny sand beach where the people are herded off the boat, feed the iguanas some fruit, are herded back onto the boat 10 minutes later, and go roaring off again. We feel sorry for those tourists. We spent 4 nights here and enjoyed the beauty of the lovely water and curious creatures here.

Most of the day the beach is deserted, and it was during one of these quite times that Norma and I went to the beach to collect some sand (and whatever else was in it) and also feed the iguanas. No sooner had Norma skewered something to feed the iguana, a little bird flew from the trees and landed on the skewer and stared pecking at the fruit. I made a You Tube video of Norma feeding the bird some crumbled up granola, but you will have to click the following link to see it:

After feeding the Iguanas we went snorkeling in the crystal clear water. We don't have an underwater camera so we have no photos from the dive, but we saw coral, many fish, and Allen picked up two keeper-sized conch. Conch have to be large enough to grow the flair at the rim of their shell. Allen got the critters out of their shells, cleaned and skinned them. (It took him hours.) They were yummy a couple of nights later, lightly fried in a spicy crust.

On the third day, there was major drama in the anchorage. A 54-foot Hylas sailboat had dragged its anchor overnight and was stuck fast on the rocks, the wind and waves pushing it harder aground. Our friend Randall on Bonita was the first to notice it when he went to walk his dog in the morning, and he went about rousting other boats who had dinghies with engines over 10 horsepower to see if they could help. Unfortunately, by this time it was already the highest tide of the day, and try as they might, with 4 or 5 boats, they were unable to free the stuck Hylas. By evening, everyone was exhausted, and the boat had to call for a rescue boat at the cost of $30,000 to come try to free it. It was high tide again and with two big inflation bags the size of cars under the boat, and big water bags tied to the top of the mast to lean the boat over, the rescue boat freed the big sailboat. They anchored for the night, dove on the boat to assess the damage: Bent keel and damaged rudder, but it was good enough to motor over to Nassau (about 35 miles) in the now calm winds. The rescue boat had spent the night and accompanied the battered sailboat.

Besides our friend Randall, one of the heroes who helped significantly was Bob Gurwicz on his boat Infinity. This is the same Bob who had helped out Randall when he had a stuck anchor at White Cay and appears in photos from our earlier blog..

The next Evening, Afterglow hosted "Sundowners" with Randall and Suzanne, Bob and his wife Debra. Bob and Deb were retired teachers from Vermont and we really hit it off. Here is a photo of him blowing a conch shell at sundown. We even got a responding conch shell blow from another boat in the anchorage. We really hit it off, especially Norma and Debra who compared notes from their years of teaching and their experiences in China. The couple stayed late and we had a great time. We hope to see them again as we travel through the Exuma Islands.

We left the anchorage and our friends this morning and motored about 15 miles to Shroud Cay (remember to pronounce it "key"). This place promises some great exploration in dingy and kayak. Maybe we will finally have a good look at some turtles tomorrow. Till then, good night!

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It all sounds quite heavenly.

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