We finally decide we should make a bit of headway south. Not only are we starting to see some blips of a storm at the end of the week, but we’re also becoming well aware that we might need food at some point in the future! ;)
We decide to make our way south to Norman’s Cay. We’d read a good deal about this island as it has quite the sorted history. Apparently Pablo Escobar made this little island his headquarters for the Caribbean stopover in his drug smuggling route. I had also read about the ability to snorkel a plane wreck that’s evidence of those days and one of the planes that either got loaded a bit too heavily or for some other reason didn’t quite make it the last 100yards to the safety of the runway.
We once again took the outside route in hopes of catching a fish along the way, but had no luck despite watching flying fish on all sides and at one point even seeing a couple different Dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi) chasing their lunch just off the boat. We are really starting to curse ourselves for not successfully keeping that last one onboard!
Right around sunset we give up on the fishing and pull into the channel at the south end of Norman’s. A few other boats are already anchored right next to the plane wreck, so we opt to drop anchor at the back of the line and watch them dinghying back and forth from the wreck to their boat (even though it seems only a few feet away and an easy swim). We decide to wait for morning in hopes of a calmer time to snorkel/explore and take in the sunset instead.
In the morning the boats leave and we discuss our options and decide “why not"?”, so we pull up anchor, motor up closer to the wreck and drop anchor a quick swim over to the plane. Honestly, I wouldn’t have said we are much into wreck dives (or snorkels), but this plane was pretty awesome. The collection of fish and underwater life under and around the plane was impressive and after we finally felt as though we had seen everything the wreck-turned-reef had to offer I spent a few hours chasing mutton snapper around the outskirts (being outsmarted every time).
We pulled up anchor and headed back to the outside…still thinking of those Mahi teasing us the day before. Again, no luck… but a day spent out on the water fishing (or catching) simply doens’t seem like such a bad thing. We tucked into a small inlet/channel at the north end of Norman’s Cay thinking maybe nobody else would be there but soon realized it was too beautiful to possibly have it all to ourselves. This narrow little channel of sand spills out into a huge flat and calm expanse that simply seems impossible. Im not sure if all ads for the the Exumas are filmed right here… but they probably should be.
When we pulled in there were a few tour boats from Nassau that had poured tourists onto the beach and we watched as they all went one by one to get selfies on the end of the sandbar admidst that impossible blue. Well before sunset the boats sounded their horns, the tourists all load up and the boats jet back across to Nassau and we have the place to ourselves. The calm blue now joined in by the calm emptiness of quiet. Oh so very good.
We don’t want to admit to ourselves that we can’t stay here for a week. It seems like we’ve found a little paradise… assuming we don’t mind a few hours a day of tourists joining the landscape (oddly, we don’t find it a detraction… more like they were brought over for our entertainment/amusement). In reality the storm at the end of the week is growing significantly in the reports and we know that we are several days sail from an island big enough to provide the protection we’ll need from the (now gale force) winds being predicted.
We pull up anchor in the morning, leave this little paradise and continue around down the inside of the island, dropping anchor off the south end and dinghying in to get lunch at McDuffs, which seem to be the only establishment other than the airstrip to survive on the island. Our meal was terrific, our drinks were strong, and it was the first time we actually talked with other sailors since Rose Island. Oddly, these “sailors” were all aboard megayachts now anchored over near the plane, and while they were kind enough to invite us for a cocktail we decided to stay anchored off the beach (which actually made for a pretty rolly night and we probably should have taken them up on the offer). ;)
Norman’s Cay, and the three different nights and locations certainly didn’t disappoint and we would happily return, but we decided to play it safe and keep making some headway south before the storm.