Bird Cay and Back To Nassau

December 17, 2020

After hanging out in Clifton Bay waiting for Megan, it was nice to lift anchor and go somewhere quieter. Megan’s arrival was a breath of fresh air from my normal, nomadic and solitary existence on Home Free.

We chose to head to the Berry Islands. Just on the South end so, not so far from Nassau, but still peaceful. I am a bit edgy in the shallow waters of the Bahamas; it takes some getting used to. While anchored in Clifton Bay I stayed pretty far out into the bay, where the water was in the 10-12′ range. I could have gone in another 500 feet, where it would have been a lot less rolly, but I thought the boat would turn with the wind/tides, so I was providing myself a lot of scope. It turns out, that the boat didn’t turn even a little bit.

Another interesting bit is the weird looking encampment at the Northern tip of the bay. Turns out it is Nygard Cay, which may be on the tip of peoples tongues as Peter Nygard was arrested this week in Winnipeg to be extradited to the US for his misdeeds with (seemingly) a large cohort of women, some who may have been minors. I took the dinghy over to look at the gaudy decor from the water. It is NOT the 8th wonder of the world. 🙂

In any case, we did end up in Bird Cay and again, I anchored a distance from shore that gave me lots of scope if necessary. For the first three days, the anchorage was quite peaceful and was met each evening with a nice calm, beautiful stars and miles and miles of area that was barren of other intruders. We are the red arrow in the screenshot below.

We had a few guests under the boat too, with a trio of Barracuda hanging out below us. They know how to find shade. We dropped a shiny lure into the water to see if we could get one to strike, but these were big fish and clearly had seen this sort of thing before. They were not going to fall for it.

On our visit to one of the local beaches, we also got a quick look at a turtle, perhaps two feet across, it wasn’t huge, but it was big enough.

This is what things look like as a backdrop to Home Free.

Bird Cay Looking North
Bird Cay – Looking South at Sunset
Chub Cay in the Distance

The water to the south is wide open and the land rises very fast as it comes up to the Berry Islands. With a south wind, the surge on Wednesday became noticeable and I made the decision to try my luck going further in. You can’t really see it on the chart, but there is an abandoned marina (see the purple ship in the circle) and a deep area that is farther in and more protected. I decided this is where we should go to avoid the ocean surge.

The front of that entrance has a depth of six feet apparently. Home Free needs five feet, ten inches of water. Due to timing issues, we decided to go for flatter water, pulled the anchor and made the short trip (about 1 mile) in at low tide. I think we may have brushed the grass for a couple dozen feet on the way in, but we safely got through the entrance and anchored in 18 feet of water.

As mentioned, many issues with the depth, anchoring in significant tides and more are still testing my nerves. In this case, I anchored in the middle of the ‘deep’ water. At about twenty feet of depth and nobody (NOBODY) nearby, I decided to drop an anchor in the middle and put out lots of scope. It wasn’t a bad decision, but I see why people sneak near the shoreline in places like this. The water was essentially flat all night despite some pretty steady winds in the 15 knot range, but the water was rushing the entire time. When the tide came in, this channel filled up dozens of square miles of bay in the Berry Islands I think. When the tide went out, it funneled through this channel as well. The water rushed constantly and pushed the boat back and forth through the night. Here is an image from my Anchor Alarm app. Note the two areas of clumped lines. The boat moved through this range with the tides coming and going. The interesting bit about that is that (1) your anchor has to hold during the change in direction and (2) getting the range (the blue line) right takes some trial and error. I was up about four times through the night resetting the alarm range. The app is amazing for monitoring position.

By morning, we were on our way back to Nassau. We decided to leave at high tide, giving the boat an additional three feet of water to get over that six foot low water area. We still went very slowly, but clearly we weren’t nearly as close to the bottom on the way out.

As mentioned in a prior post a few of my salon lights have started to break. I picked up some used fixtures from YachtTech in Palm Beach Gardens, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to get them to me. In a stroke of luck, I reached out to the kind folks (Sean and Erica) on Carmanah, a Nordhavn 60, that I met in N. Palm Beach and they were heading over to Chub Cay the next morning. I was anchored four miles from Chub Cay. Serendipity doesn’t often get much better than that. They graciously offered to bring the lights and while coming to the decision to move the boat for Wednesday night, I zoomed over to Chub Cay to pick up the lights.

Zooming would be an overstatement. I am not really a small boat guy, and I was second guessing the decision to make a 4 nm run in a dinghy on open water, but why not!? Well, because those winds were picking up significantly. The run over was pretty good with following seas, but as I rounded the corner to the Chub Cay entrance it was clear that seas were building rapidly.

It was nice to say hello, get an update on Carmanah’s cruising plans and then get back across to the boat in a timely manner. The route back was slower as I was slamming into two to three foot waves in places as that ocean surge pushed the water into the island. Slow and steady and a LOT of salt water on my face. In the end I got back on Home Free, lifted the dinghy and moved the boat where we wouldn’t get bounced around.

This morning, we lifted the anchor at high tide and started the trip back to Nassau. This time we chose tying up at Nassau Yacht Haven while we await Jinhee’s arrival tomorrow around lunch time. The Christmas plans are all coming together.

More to come when the boat fills up further.

2 thoughts on “Bird Cay and Back To Nassau

  1. Colour me jealous it looks spectacular there

    1. It is very pretty! Once I get more organized I’ll post pictures of me on the trainer on the boat deck. It’s very hot in the sun, but far better than a basement.

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