Highbourne Cay: Jan 21-25

Sunset 6pm Bahama Banks approacing NW Chnl

Sunset 6pm Bahama Banks approaching the NW Channel toward New Providence

Our overnight was uneventful; the sunset gorgeous, the moon lit our way until 4am, sunrise a sailor’s delight but boy it was a squeaky, creaky sloppy ride. Heading due East with north winds gave us waves hitting us almost broadside. While they weren’t more than a foot on the Bahama Banks (between Bimini, and Chub Cay which sits at bottom of Berry Islands) the problem was that due to “chilly” and breezy we ran Twins from the lower helm where the waves pound more. As we moved along at a speed that doesn’t take us over the wave stops, rather they get to have their way with us, the layers of cabinets, doorways, bulkhead, etc., flex and complain rather loudly, especially on the starboard (right) side.
The worst was the last 5 hours and once dawn started to break, we sped up to alleviate some of the wave slapping, rocking and creaking we (Russ) had gotten very weary of. Speaking of weary…. Yes we were tired, yes we tried to sleep, yes it was too noisy. The bed sits on top of the 100hp engine, the waves hit the sides and underneath because we don’t have much of what is called bridge deck clearance (Twins has at least one foot less than Ortolan), and well there’s the creaky, squeaky thing. Russ managed a few hours total while I kept watch (Otto works well on Twins) but I chose to rest on the small sofa across from the helm and dozed a bit. The one positive guarantee with an overnight is that we both sleep soundly the next night.
Our original plan had been to anchor by Highbourne Cay (very north part of Exumas), then head for Bell Island to tuck behind it for the cold front arriving Friday/Saturday. However; on Tuesday (decision day) the timing was for clocking at midnight (strong wind from west that had been SW prior) and gusting 34kts. Nah, don’t like that; at least not anymore and probably not in Ms Rocky Squeaky. Sooo let’s just stay put at the marina for a few nights until the winds calm down and we can travel down the east side of the Exuma chain (the banks side) in comfort. Called the marina before departing Bimini and reserve space starting Thursday night.

La Di Da Highbourne Cay Marina

La Di Da Highbourne Cay Marina


One of several cabanas overlooking the usually calm bank side, looking out to Oyster Cay

One of several cabanas overlooking the now and usually calm bank side, looking out to Oyster Cay

One of eight beaches at HB- near entrance facing SE

One of eight beaches at Highbourne –  near entrance facing SE

Banaquit- looking to attract a mate

Banaquit- looking to attract a mate- see the puffed feathers?

"Been waiting long?", asks the Banaquit eating a snack

“Been waiting long?”, asks the Banaquit enjoying a snack.

The name fits the cay very well, to an H you might say.

H is for Highbourne

H is for Highbourne. Banks side to the left, Exuma Sound and Atlantic to the right

It is located at the northern end of the Exuma Chain and with its highest point over 100 ft above sea level, is one the highest elevations in the Exumas. The island claims eight beaches, and East Beach which faces east and Exuma Sound, is renowned for its beauty and ranked as one of the best in the Bahamas. I have to agree. Two miles long, clean, easy walking and it even gave up a few sea beans and tiny shells.

East Beach - in the lee of the big wind

East Beach – in the lee of the big wind

Highbourne offers not only a protected marina, but eight cottages discreetly nestled in the landscape with views of Exuma Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Free use of bikes, kayaks and paddleboards; we used bikes as way too windy for water activities.IMG_2588 (600x800) Comfy lounge chairs and cabans are scattered throughout-too chilly and windy for those too. Xuma restaurant sits perched up with a lovely view of the Banks side; it is open air but strataglass curtains are dropped when the wind or rain arrives.
Twins got the typical Bahamian spider-web tie in the slip, plus an additional line tied between us and the sailboat next to us on our left. The fixed finger pier was on our right.

West wind begins to pick up. S/v Exotic Dream fuels up before heading back to Nassau

West wind begins to pick up. S/v Exotic Dream fuels up before heading back to Nassau. Yes, a story here.

No way was I passing up a top-notch dining opportunity, because as you may recall, not many of those exist in the Exumas. But which day and which meal? Friday rained much of the day; Saturday would be windy and cooler-sigh life is tough. We settled on lunch Saturday as dinner time would be too chilly for our thinned-out blood. And not as budget busting as dinner. 🙂

Sat lunch at Xuma- only one other couple - m/y Lifesong

Lunch at Xuma- only one other couple dining in style- the wine bucket is not ours 🙂 The banaquit was my reason for the photo.


The marina offers a small grocery and gift shop. One item got checked off the list- a Bahamian calendar which we missed having last year.

Our favorite souvenir- Bahamas calendar

Our favorite souvenir- Bahamas calendar

Twins has her original inverter; this is a crucial piece of equipment that turns 12V DC into 120V AC so you can use your pronged electric corded devices when not hooked up to shore power or the generator isn’t running. Ours may or may not be showing its age. But one thing it doesn’t do is regulate incoming voltage, so when Highbourne produces 136V that’s too much and causes problems. For our last day there we decided the prudent mariner should unplug and stow the ever-present cord (first time since we bought her). This high voltage thing seems normal  in the Bahamas; had similar in Bimini and have heard from others they’ve experienced the same at other marinas.

You will be happy to know that we had no further problems (yet) and that we still take delight in a blazing red sunset

Highbourne Cay

Highbourne Cay

Questions? Comments ? I know I left out some explanations- but you can ask 🙂  Happy to have you all along for the ride.  My question is: when you read the word “Cay” are you thinking Key or Kay?  Not easy to think and say Key when your brain says Kay.

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