Days 4 - 6: Highbourne Cay to Compass Cay
26.05.2019 - 28.08.2018
Day 4: Going Nowhere Fast.
Highbourne Cay to….Highbourne Cay: 0 miles
On our second day, my 98 page itinerary demanded that we depart Highbourne Cay and travel 14.5 miles south to Shroud Cay where we would anchor for the night.
The weather disagreed.
It became clear that we were spending the entire day on Highbourne Cay and wouldn’t be moving the boat until the following day.
It was a hardship being stuck on a beautiful private island, with a comfy slip, shore power, showers, an upscale restaurant, beautiful deserted beaches, and free bicycles, but we made the most of it.
First order of business: Showers. You learn quickly on a boat that whenever an opportunity to take a land-based shower presents itself, you take it.
(The same holds true for a #2)
I whipped up a breakfast of eggs-in-a-basket with avocado slices, fresh tomatoes, and salsa while everyone cleaned up.
After breakfast, we set out to explore. Highbourne Cay has 8 amazing beaches, each one more beautiful than the last. Highbourne was nearly deserted and we had every pristine beach to ourselves.
We thought we’d take the bus to visit one of the more distant beaches, but when we saw how long this guy had been waiting, we decided to take the bikes.
We stumbled on a perfect crescent beach, complete with a lounging pavilion, chairs, a paddleboard, and an outdoor bar where we quickly set up our rum punch assembly line.
Knowing that we couldn’t do anything or go anywhere was incredibly relaxing.
Eventually, we biked our way back to the Marina for lunch at Xuma. Lunch was as decadent as dinner. Their hamburger was a thing of beauty.
Then it was back to the boat for clean-up and naps before dinner.
We noticed the beach had a bonfire set up so we inquired at the office and found that we could reserve the beach pavilion and bonfire for dinner – so reserve it we did. It cost $200, but it was well worth it.
Sure, you could probably just show up on the off chance that no one else was using it and use it for free, but we were glad we had a paid reservation when we arrived and a large family had set up camp in the pavilion.
No receipt? No beach for you. They packed up and went to find their own spot.
Pesto pasta, grilled chicken, salad, bread, s’mores, a beach bonfire and more wine than Trader Joe’s…it just didn’t get better than this. This is what boat trips are all about.
Day 5: Here Comes the Sun.
Highbourne Cay to Shroud Cay: 14.5 miles
It was still cloudy when we woke up, but the weather looked promising. We made plans over a breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit parfaits.
We had to modify our itinerary to make up for the day we spent on Highbourne and decided to skip a stop at Norman’s Cay and head straight for Shroud. The following day, instead of stopping at Warderick Wells, we’d go all the way from Shroud Cay to Compass Cay.
As we made our way north, the gray skies gradually began to clear. The dark water gradually illuminated, as streaks of electric blue began to appear.
The skies were clearing as we anchored at Shroud Cay.
Our “routine” became an appetizer and cocktails mid-morning so we celebrated our arrival with bloody marys and a fruit tray.
Then, we did nothing but lounge in the incredible water with cocktails until it was time for lunch.
Lunch was a giant platter of nachos, black beans and rice, and one weird circular rainbow around the sun that looked very much like a celestial boob.
After lunch, it was nearing high tide, so it was a good time to take the dingy for a ride up the shallow mangrove river on Shroud Cay to see what was supposed to be “the most amazing beach ever.”
We navigated slowly through the shallow water, the guys having to get out on occasion to pull us through.
At the end, the river spilled into the ocean at what was, definitely, the most amazing beach ever.
We pulled out the drinks, parked our butts in the sand, and let the sun and sea take us. We did a whole lot of nothing for a couple of hours.
Eventually, we made our way back to the boat and cleaned up for dinner. It was nothing more than hot dogs and hamburgers, but with the sea salt air and the magnificent sunset, there has never been a finer meal.
Day 6: On Thin Water.
Shroud Cay to Compass Cay: 27 miles
Because our power cat only had a 3 foot draft, this allowed us to cruise on the shallow west side of the islands, where the Exuma Bank offers crystalline turquoise and jaw dropping views. We planned to take advantage of the “skinny water” and take our time navigating to Compass Cay and simply enjoy the ride.
Because we had to combine 2 days of travel into one, it would be a long ride. We decided to get up early and have a quick breakfast “to go” of bagels with fruit.
We pulled out as the sun was just peeking into the day.
To break up the long day, we planned to stop at Cambridge Cay to visit the sandbar. This meant our morning would take us 22 miles. The weather had completely cleared and we finally saw that Exuma water we had been dying for.
We stopped for lunch at Cambridge Cay: sesame seared tuna with noodles.
After lunch, we took the dingy to explore the sandbars and shallow waters around Cambridge Cay.
Then, it was another 5 miles to Compass Cay, famous for its tame nurse sharks.
We had reserved a marina slip, which was no easy feat. Compass doesn’t have bathrooms, showers, or a regularly operating restaurant, but we had shore power and it was just nice to get off the boat and stand on a non-moving, non-wet surface for a bit.
We enjoyed a sunset platter with wine before grilling up some steaks and calling it a night.