Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Normans Cay, Exumas 24º35.494N | 76º48.709W

Cara Mia at anchor in Normans Cay.
Yes, Normans' is idyllic, beautiful, breathtaking and other lofty adjectives. However, I was uneasy from the moment we arrived until we raised anchor and skedaddled.

I read a little about the history of Normans Cay and have perhaps found the not so mysterious reason.

From 1978 to 1982, Carlos Lehder ran a drug smuggling operation from Normans Cay, revolutionizing the drug trade by shipping entire planes full of cocaine into the U.S., where previously smugglers had only brought in what they could carry on -- or in -- their bodies.

Lehder and his gang expelled tourists and natives from the island, and even held the Bahamian law at bay, turning Normans Cay into a playground for debauchery.

Our stay was peppered by unsettling incidents, including a search and rescue (of sorts) of Chip and Remi who went lobster hunting with a neighboring boater. The man's dinghy quit working outside the cut. They were towed by a family of Italians across a lagoon, where they carried the dinghy across a sand spit and started walking it through the water until Casey and I could come to the rescue in our dinghy. Disconcerting if not downright dangerous. Sobering for sure.

The last night at the anchorage, I went up just before sunset to check the anchor, you know the hook that you expect to be 50 feet or so in front of your bow with the boat pulling back on it? Well, I found the anchor on the starboard side beside the cockpit with no real obvious reason that wind and/or current would put it there. I have witnessed the strange wind-against-current situations that put the boat at odds with the anchor, but this was really strange.

I went up several times hoping the boat and anchor would come to some kind of agreement. At one point after dark, Casey and I heard Chip and Remi in the cockpit saying, "What the...!" We joined them just as the boat completed a 180º pirouette, faster than we could have spun with the engine at full throttle. As we all stood in the cockpit wide-eyed, the boat did yet another 180º, spinning like a top back to its original position, right beside the anchor.

We crept out of Normans at 7:15 the next morning.

Desolate airfield on Normans Cay.

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