January 23-29, 2021
Through the Looking Glass
We arrived at West Harbour in the late afternoon, and the anchor set right away. We picked a spot in front of the infamous Nygard Cay. Nygard is a billionaire from Canada who made his money in fast fashion. In the 1990s, he built a home here, in the ultra exclusive Lyford Cay neighborhood. Sean Connery and other Hollywood types have homes here, but it’s mostly old money. Before Nygard’s arrival, super yacht crews nick named it “I’m Bored” Cay, because it was so quiet. Then Nygard arrived and built what looks to me like an adult amusement park… Mayan themed with a pyamid, ten foot tall carved lion heads surrounding giant fire bowls and tiki torches… it’s crazy. But it currently appears abandoned and in the slow process of being reclaimed by nature. Back as recently as the naughties, they had regular wild bacchanals with loud music and hundreds of models dancing on the beach under hundreds of tiki torches, but it ended in 2009 when Nygard’s house burnt down. Nygard and his neighbor had been in the midst of a multi-decade litigious feud with his neighbor, Wall Street insider Louis Bacon. Lious was all about quietly blending into his surroundings, and didn’t enjoy a later day Hugh Hefner as his neighbor. The dining room in Louis’s 30MM home is only 200 ft for Nygard’s playground. I bet he popped a bottle of Champagne when the house went up in smoke (after he hid the matches). Now it’s definitely a curiosity to inspect through the binoculars.
Binoculars are a big part of my fun cruising. I’ve always had bad myopia, and with the binocs, I can see really clearly, really far away. Also, anchoring out in a boat, you have a strong desire that all hard objects remain really far away. Therefore, inspecting your surrounds is more fun with binoculars. We have two pairs, heavier ones with a wide field of view that Jeff uses, and small but mighty ones that I use so I can look without my arms getting tired. The smaller field of view is worth that tradeoff for me. I noticed in Palm Beach, that Claire was concerned I was becoming a voyeur, looking at other boats all the time. In my defense, they are all interesting in different ways, and, you’d be amazed with all the boats I looked at, I saw very few actual humans. So many gorgeous boats, lonely for their owners. The gorgeous 70 ft sailboat next to us at our mooring there was only used 3 hrs the entire 5 weeks we were there. Sad.
Anyway, back to West Harbour. We saw the same boat from the Berry’s that we met while Covid testing. They stopped by to chat and brought their adorable Yorkie who was amazingly chill. We where with about 5 or 6 other boats in a huge harbor, so it was all very comfortable and spread out. One of the boats was 180 ft long and played great 80’s music loudly until 10:30, perfect.
The next morning, we ran out of dish soap, and I was missing fresh produce, so it was off to the store. This entailed launching Fluffy, loading in the bikes, going to the beach, riding 4 miles to the nearest grocery store, and then reversing the process. I wanted to bike a little anyway, and the road was pretty light on traffic, so it wasn’t a chore, it was an activity! The beach, by the way, was gorgeous with some pines for shade. It was called Jaws beach, but we didn’t see any sharks (good!)
The grocery store was the Neiman Marcus of grocery stores. I was shocked until I realize it must be the one the Lyford Cay people use, so it made sense. They had a spectacular imported cheese section, for example, with eye watering high prices. We got two back packs and one soft cooler full of produce, and a few other things for $175. I think that would have been about $75 in Florida. WORTH IT! They only thing they didn’t have was one of those butane lighters for lighting the grill, and our gas stove. We’ve been cooking a lot, so it was running low. I just did the math – we haven’t been to a restaurant since our goodbye dinner in Palm beach. That was 16 days ago. That’s the longest we’ve ever gone just living on ship’s stores. And we’ve been living so well! I didn’t even feel any hardship until the avocados and tomatoes ran out.
Back on the boat with everything stowed, I went paddle boarding, and Jeff figured out what was wrong with our newly rebuild alternator. It was squealing in a way that scared us, but we was able to dial back the load by 50% and he installed new belts. The belts smelled like burning rubber the first day, which alarmed me, but now that we’ve used them for several hours, that smell went away, so all is good.
In the late afternoon the wind was up, but Jeff is dying to SCUBA dive, so we loaded up Fluffy with all the equipment and set out for a little island with a reef. Unfortunately, the wind was in the wrong direction, and we didn’t have enough line on the dinghy anchor to set in the deep wavy water, so we had to abort, but it was still a cool ride.
We checked the weather on the 24th, and it there was no good wind to sail to the Exumas for a whole week. I was all charged up to go, so Jeff agreed we should go right away, since it was dead calm, we at least wouldn’t fight a head wind. Some days, we agree to be a motor boat.
I wish the pictures could capture the magic of sailing motoring across the banks. It was mostly 25 ft deep, but even at the beginning in 40 ft, you could read a newspaper if it were laying on the bottom. It was perfectly clear, we were the only boat for miles, and the blue ran out and merged with the horizon in a 360 degree circle. The sea and air were both 76 degrees. The water was so smooth, it felt like we were floating in the air. The surface of the water looked like undulating satin, and the refraction of the sunlight in our wake made psychadelic patterns. It was total bliss, and we didn’t even have the sails up!
We left at 8 and arrived at Highbourne Cay by 3:30. As soon as we got there, I got out my paddle board, while guys on the boat next door entertained us climbing their mast and jumping into the water from the spreaders. It looked dangerous! It was probably a 30 ft jump. I couldn’t wait to get in the water. It was so clear, I got a little vertigo getting onto my board, because it looked like I was 17 ft off the ground, with just air underneath me. I should note that right as we anchored, a 6-7 foot long nurse shark came to check us out. It looked like Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon, but it was still enough to inspire me to use my board like a kayak, and not an SUP. I am not ready to swim with sharks yet!
I did the ½ mile paddle to the beach, stopping to chat with a few boats along the way. Heaven! Jeff joined me in the water for a swim. He is confident that nurse sharks aren’t interested in him. Since mosquitos ignore him and bite me, I suspect it will be the same with sharks, so I am still happy with my “no risk” approach.
We had a lovely time the next few days, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and visiting Allen’s Cay. Allen’s Cay is a deserted island (or group of islands) just north of us. It is famous for “Iguana Beach” where a troupe of Marine Iguanas live. They are fairly rare, and I can report that they adore banana. Allen’s Cay is shaped like a horseshoe, with a little gem of a beach at the bottom of the “U”. We also found good snorkeling along a rock wall in 6ft of water.
It’s not all fun in the sun for us though. Thursday was a “coconut gone day” for us. That’s from the weather station at Highbourne Cay (so mad I forgot to take a pic). Anyway, it’s a coconut hanging on a string like the head of the guy in the game Hangman. The sign beneath is explains it’s function as a weather station like this:
Coconut Dry = Sunny
Coconut Wet = Rainy
Coconut White = Snow
Coconut Swinging = Windy
Coconut Gone = Hurricane
For 24 hours from Thursday morning until Friday morning, we hunkered down for 25-35 knots. We pitched and rolled enough that I took a Bonnine (anti-sea sick pill) and felt lousy, even though it was still sunny and pretty out. I was a bit nervous as we watched the boats around us (as many as 20 at one point) up anchor and leave, until right as the winds picked up, it was only us in the anchorage. “And then there were none,” we said gloomily. Happily, the anchor held through the 180 degree wind shift in a gale, YAY!, and we are hear to tell the tale.