05 April 2007

Allen’s Cay, Exumas

April 5, 2007

We woke up on Thursday with plans to go snorkeling for dinner and see the iguanas that live on the group of cays that comprise Allen’s Cay. Because the currents are so strong, it is important to go snorkeling as close to slack tide as possible. We first ventured out around 10 AM and although no dinner was found, we scoped out lots of potential hunting grounds and Hans saw lots of pretty (non-edible) fish. The coral formations are different here than in the Abacos. The coral in the Abacos is very dense with large structures and is usually found on the ocean side, while the coral we’ve seen so far is found in smaller clumps and scattered along the sea floor. At one point Hans was able to follow a grouper an maintain visibility beyond 50 yards. The water is so clear that it not only lets you see everything, but it acts as a magnifying glass on the coral head and the fish. It is spectacular. Later in the afternoon we went ashore and fed the iguanas. They are prehistoric looking, not very friendly and rather aggressive. While normally we wouldn’t be feeding wildlife, everyone feeds the iguanas and they probably don’t know how to hunt properly for themselves anymore. Massive tour boats from Nassua come almost daily with over 30 passengers, all bearing food for the iguanas.

A resident of Allen's Cay...the boss iguana.

The Malo 40, with the Danes aboard, leaving Allen's Cay.

Hans snorkeling.

Kristen modeling in Ding Ding III.

Our preconceived notions about the Exumas are proving to be far from reality. While the landscape and the snorkeling is exactly what we imagined, we never thought we would have to share the islands with so many people. Not only are there lots of other cruising sailboats (up to 12 right now anchored at Allen’s Cay), but there are massive mega-yachts from Nassau and Fort Lauderdale anchored just outside. The megayachts are around 150 feet long and all have 25 foot “dinghies” as well as jet skis and other water toys on which they constantly zoom around the anchorage. We talked with a crew member from one of the megayachts who gave us the inside scoop on the operations of the boat. The boat is owned solely as a charter vessel that operates at a huge loss every year to realize tax benefits for the owner. Even so, a week charter costs $120,000. And even though the guests were most likely treated like royalty, one of the girls was reputedly unhappy all the time. Maybe if she were on Whisper and not treated like royalty with no comforts from home she would be happy!

A mega-yacht at anchor off Allen's Cay.