Cruisers Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 11-02-2021, 18:31   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Santa Rosa
Boat: Hunter 420 Passage
Posts: 38
Advice on Exumas Itinerary

Hi everyone!
Appreciate anyone's advice on this as I do my pre-planning research. As a quick snapshot, we are somewhat experienced sailors / charterer's (BVI x 6, Tahiti x 1, Baja x3, owned and lived aboard a 42 foot sloop for 3 years and sailed all the Channel Islands of CA).

So our plans for a BVI charter got scuttled due to Covid restrictions and we chose rather last minute to take an Astrea 42 to Exumas with 6 people aboard, sailing out of Nassau Palm Cay Marina.

We have 7 days, and to briefly summarize the Covid restrictions issue, we NEED to be in either Staniel Cay or Highborne Cay on Day 4 for covid tests and then either of those two places on Day 6 or 7. I know, its restrictive, please let's not get going on either the politics or if you think we were irresponsible to plan this, it is what it is, the trip is booked and we're determined to make it work.

It is a little tough to script out itineraries not having yet been there, so appreciate any advice. From what I gather all routes are typically through the bank rather than the sound and taking the cuts? And since it's mostly anchoring I can't figure exactly where to head to on each Cay. I have the Explorer Charts and also use Navionics, but am still early in my planning and orienting to the area. Based on the depths on charts, can you sort of just anchor anywhere off the islands in appropriate depth and holding (weather and other sea conditions dependent)?

I will motor as needed to minimize travel times as needed. I hate to say it but the reality for this crew is sailing isn't as much the draw as is the destinations.

Really appreciate anyone's helpful input.

This is my 1st draft itinerary. Thanks for input!:

Day 1: -- Sail to Norman Island, 34nm (5 hrs)
dinner at Mcduffs, Submerged “Escobar Plane” DC-3 on south end, Dive “Octopus Garden” and “Hammerhead Gulch”, “Twinkie Beach”

Day 2: – Sail to Warderick Wells Cay, 23nm (3 hrs), dead whale construction, Marine park

Day 3: — Sail to Pig Beach / Staniel Cay, 20nm (3 hrs)
Staniel Cay yacht club for a lunch and visit the beautiful island. “Thunderball Cave”. Pig Beach

Day 4:Covid Test Day in am, then Sail to Little Bells Cay (Cambridge Cay) 12nm (2 hrs)
Mooring Balls available, Exumas Land and Sea Park, Caves of Rocky Dundas (Near Fowl’s Cay), Rachel’s Bubble Bath, Fowl Cay reefs snorkel

Day 5: –Sail to Shroud Cay, 22nm (3 hrs)

Day 6: -- Sail to Highborne Cay, Marina dock, 17nm (3 hrs), Hilltop Restaurant

Day 7: Covid Test Day in am, sail to Rose Island, 35nm or return to charter base 32 nm (~5 hrs)

Day 8: -- Return to charter Base, 6.5 nm (1 hr)
doctorbill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2021, 18:59   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Virginia
Boat: Jeanneau SO469
Posts: 191
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

Seems like way too much planning for a place like Exumas with unlimited beautiful anchorages. I understand the points that certain dates require. But probably not the whole day. With so many places to enjoy anchoring I would avoid marinas. I know some people enjoy marinas but I have never spent a night in a marina in the Bahamas and my trips are usually 3-4 months long. I would try to be flexible and ask others that you meet what they recently enjoyed.
Peeew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2021, 20:06   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Santa Rosa
Boat: Hunter 420 Passage
Posts: 38
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

Hey I hear you but 2 things come to mind. First is that we have certain points on a timeframe we have to meet to be in compliance with Covid restrictions. I really wish this wasn’t the case but it is.

Second is I don’t know what it’s like there, and appreciate any input, including yours that I’m over thinking it. And the only reason a marina is on there is that Covid tests are available on Highborne only for resort and marina guests (Covid tests required for re-entry to US within 3 days of travel thanks to new administration) .
doctorbill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2021, 20:21   #4
Registered User
Captain Bill's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Punta Gorda, Fl
Boat: Endeavourcat Sailcat 44
Posts: 2,882
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

It will work as long as you don't get a front passage. I doubt there will be too many boats to worry about mooring ball availability in the park. You didn't put a date on your trip, but a strong front passage can make that bank untenable especially around the passes where the tidal current can result in some very tall short seas. I once took green water on my dodger which is 9 feet above the waterline going from Hawksbill to Warderick Wells and lost one engine due to fuel contamination and broke the windex off my mast. It was not fun. You should allow a day for weather if you are going before late April. I know experienced sailors who have had to get a sea plane from Highbourne to Nassau and Pay the charter company a big fee to come get the boat so they could make their plane. Good luck and enjoy your trip.
Captain Bill is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 04:36   #5
S/V rubber ducky
sailorboy1's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bahamas cruising currently
Boat: Hunter 410
Posts: 17,931
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

the test is on day 5

day 1 -you have too much
day 3 -you have too much and it has tide requirements
day 4 - you have too much PLUS your 5-day test is on the 5th day after you arrive
day 5/6 - you don't have anything spend some of that elsewhere
day 7 - there is no day 7 test

I am in the Bahamas right now and will spend over 2 weeks going in just 1 direction of your route
jobless, houseless, clueless, living on a boat and cruising around somewhere
sailorboy1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 06:04   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Virginia
Boat: Jeanneau SO469
Posts: 191
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

I suggest check the latest list of locations available for the required tests and what flexibility there is. Rumors are that day 5 test can be plus/minus one day. I just left the Exumas after an extended time exploring and I did not meet anyone that had to use a marina for a test. And since weather can dictate changes I would keep your list of wants and see what works each day within the limits of your “have to” days. But it does seem that you have plenty of wants for the tine you are planning. Let the weather dictate the when and if.
Peeew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 07:35   #7
Registered User
Lowcountry's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Charleston SC
Boat: 1988 Hans Christian 33
Posts: 616
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

Schedule is way too busy and optimistic, particularly for Winter months (cold fronts weekly). Also, forgoing time in the Land and Sea park to visit "Pig Beach" boggles my mind. Those pigs are the worst thing (outside of hurricanes) to happen to the Exumas in the past 100 years.
Lowcountry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 10:28   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Northern Virginia
Boat: Lagoon 42 OV
Posts: 126
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

I would focus on Warderick and Exumas park. The rest I would pencil in, lightly, with a big eraser at hand.

Thunderball Grotto is an hour trip max. Bring some food for the Sergeants in a baggie and hang out. The current can be pretty serious in there so be aware!

I don't know when you'll get the boat, usually Island Time. So let's say noon. I would just sail east to Rose island and drop the anchor and chill Day 1. Then on to your other destinations.

Reading where you've sailed before anchoring will be easy. I would suggest staying 'inside' (on the western side of the cays) for your guests, the swell is a lot less if a front comes in. You can take a cut, well-marked!!, and go outside to make time, but if you are motoring it wouldn't be that useful.

It's sailing, not a triathlon.
"We can choose what we learn but have little or no control over what we forget, fill your head carefully" Dr. R
DockDoc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 10:40   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 32
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

I'm in between Chub and Nassau as I write this. Covid testing has been super easy. Yes you need to follow the rules not just for safety but to keep it laid back as it currently is for all involved., I have also heard the plus a day but have yet to hear of someone taking it a day early. Bahamas is really working hard to make the plan work and they understand weather but the weather down here right now is perfect. Check out this beast they hauled in last night. That's our leopard in the back ground.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	PXL_20210211_233854040.jpg
Views:	136
Size:	420.4 KB
ID:	232368  
wathey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 10:43   #10
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 217
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

We spent 20 days and didn't see half of the cays. One week is just too short. You will want to buy The Exuma Guide by Stephen Pavlidis. It is a must have book for your sail and gives you information on all the cays.
Personally I thought the pigs were a hoot! they are just around the corner from Staniel Cay where you will want to get your 5th day Covid test. Testing in Staniel is free and easy. You will, of course need your Bahamas Health Visa before you leave the US. You won't be allowed on the flight without it. It requires a Covid test within 5 days of arrival in Nasau.
From Palm Cay Marina it is a 5 hour shot to the Exumas. I would start at Allan's Cay the first night (be sure to have some scraps to feed the iguanas - feed them with your barbeque tongs or they will nip your fingers). I would almost say pass through the marine park quickly and don't stop at Warderick Wells as it can be an expensive night on a mooring ball (cost us $150 for ball and park fees for all on board).
Be careful where you moor as there is a good tidal change and it can turn you around in the middle of the night. Anchored between Allan Cay and Leaf Cay we swung 180 in the middle of the night and our anchor dragged for over 200 feet before resetting. Two other boats in the same channel had the same problem as they drug on by us.
Rose cay has a calm anchorage on the South side but can be very rolly on the north side.
My favorite anchorage by far was one that has little mention: Long Cay near Hammerhead Gulch. It is well protected and calm with little tidal correction. I especially liked this spot because it had the best snorkeling in all the Exumas in a long cut between Long Cay and Lobster Cay. There is a bit of a current here so it is very nice to do a drift snorkel dive next to your dingy. The coral here as well as the fish life is fantastic.
have a nice trip but add some days if possible or your week will only be for about three or four days of fun when you take in the day sail to and from the base as well as a day getting re tested.
jim King is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 11:40   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 87
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

I'd say it is doable.. but a whirlwind !
Mlp48 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 13:26   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Santa Rosa
Boat: Hunter 420 Passage
Posts: 38
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

Hey everyone, really appreciate this.
We arrive a day early, so that is why covid test on day 5 appears in my itinerary as "day 4."

Only places to test in Exumas are basically Highborne (for resort and marina guests) or Staniel Cay. That is PRECISELY why I tried to design a trip that put us at Staniel on that day and then tried to get us back.

All your advice is so appreciated, I'm going to start significantly re-tooling this. I thought is was too much of a whirlwind boogie and don't want that. Had sketched it off the various charter companies suggested itinteries, but my experience with those are that they tend to try to jam everything into the standard 7 day itinerary and its exactly a whirlwind.

Thanks, and keep the recommendations coming!
doctorbill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 17:47   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 6
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

I'm basically a lurker/dreamer but on the Josh Post vlog he and his girlfriend took a sightseeing boat and were able to hit the pigs, grotto etc in one day. Might be more fun than slogging there and back on a time schedule. Just my $.02 worth.
flyingw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2021, 18:39   #14
Registered User
GRIT's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: North Atlantic Ocean.
Boat: 15 metre Catamaran
Posts: 1,130
Images: 2
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

You're pretty rushed, the way you've planned it.

My suggestion.

Day 1. Shop and supply the boat with whatever you need. Then head to Rose Island, south side to anchor.

Day 2. Snorkle Rose Island, North side, fish on same side. Relax, enjoy nice meal at supper time. You can take the big boat to the north side, or just dinghy there. You could walk over, but I like to have the dinghy at the reef with me. Convenient place to put caught fish, or to catch fish if using a line.

Day 3 sail to Allens cay, anchor in the bay on the south end, nice and shoal and it's the area with the least current.

Day 4, snorkle the reef just north and east of the island where the iguana beach is.

Day 5, Sail to Highborne cay for your covid test, and a nice meal at the restaurant (assuming it's open during covid)

Day 6 Norman's Cay, explore the old drug base, see the drug plane (if there's any of it left), dinner at MacDuff's.

Day 7 Warderick wells

Day 8 Staniel.

Even that itinerary is ambitious for the last 3 days. You might be better off going from Norman's on Day 6, back to revisit one of your favourites from before, then back to base on the 8th day.

I'd be tuckered out on your schedule, and not remember or enjoy any of it on the way. You'll likely have a bad weather day, or two, to absorb into the schedule too.

Horses for courses, if you like to see "everything", then go for it. I just don't like to sail every day.

Cheers, and enjoy yourself. You may see us down there in a week or two.

If you can dream it; with grit, you can do it.
GRIT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2021, 06:04   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 87
Re: Advice on Exumas Itinerary

I just re-read your first.. the trip is booked and you're goin' !!

I'd say keep to your whirlwind plan and see what happens -- as it is unlike any place you say you've been.

I'd also say BE READY FOR ANYTHING and also be prepared for it costing much more than you now have predicted. I've always thought the World had a doubling button when I've been in the Bahamas !

Worrying-me asks -- what happens if someone in your crew tests negatively mid-way through ?

If me (as captain or cruise chef).. I'd look deeply into some what-if scenarios like what are the details of air ambulance insurance for all. I'd also have names and numbers of seaplanes and other air services. I think I'd also see what feasibility and costs are to take an Iridium phone or the like.

BTW...I am very envious. I flew over a northern and western piece of the Bahamas eve before last and it was a magnificent sight. I also know the Exumas are many many many times more special.

I am sorry -- but I would not encourage any feeding of iguanas or pigs.. or sharks !!
Mlp48 is offline   Reply With Quote

Advice, exumas

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Advice for Exumas Itinerary - Places to Go showmethefacts Atlantic & the Caribbean 17 27-03-2020 05:10
Exumas itinerary gussers Atlantic & the Caribbean 19 15-06-2017 10:02
Itinerary Assistance - Exumas vanderjas Atlantic & the Caribbean 18 29-09-2015 21:13
suggested itinerary nassau- exumas-nassau 6 nights americad Atlantic & the Caribbean 8 30-12-2013 13:12
Exumas...Georgetown to Nassau..10 days...Itinerary Advice KokomoJoe Atlantic & the Caribbean 9 24-10-2013 18:02

Advertise Here

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:52.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.