Allans Cay to Normans Cay


We left Allans Cay on Wed AM, and headed south back past Highborne to Norman’s Cay. We arrived around 2 in the afternoon, an easy approach, and anchored off the beach. Great holding here in deep sand, the Rocna bit as soon as it hit the bottom, so we’re well hooked.

Normans Cay has a checkered past, it was the base of operations for Columbian drug lord Carlos Lehder, and remnants of that operation remain. It is rumored that there were many unexplained deaths around the area during that time of cruisers who got too close, or others who crossed the wall that was erected to the north of the airstrip. The Bahamas has long since cleaned house on the drug trade, the operations shut down and the buildings taken over or abandoned. Although most of it is being reclaimed by nature, many of the buildings are still standing, part of the long-defunct Norman Cay Club resort. It is interesting to explore the ruins and imagine how it would have been in it’s heyday.


The 2910 ft.  airstrip is still used frequently, with guests for the Normans Cay Beach resort arriving by private or charter plane.


MacDuff’s restaurant is adjacent to the airstrip, and frequently has lunch guests who arrive by private plane, or cruisers who go ashore for their famous cheeseburgers. We enjoyed a treat of lunch out, burgers, fries, and drinks. Only $55 with tip. 🙂 It’s a great little spot out here in the middle of the ocean, and the burgers were really very good. They are open daily from 12 noon to 8PM, dinner is by reservation. I suppose if nobody reserves, they go home! There are at least four dogs who are residents, they make themselves at home around the tables. We were half the lunch crowd on Thursday.


We trekked from the airstrip southeast along the old road that runs to what was Normans Cay Club. Along the way is a large house, a duplex that was abandoned probably 20 years ago. Overgrown and deteriorating, it probably could tell some fascinating tales of its past! At the end of the road is a pier, more buildings and an old BaTelCo tower. The large building on the hill appears to have been the restaurant and hotel office, and purported to be Lehder’s villa during the drug days. The message painted on the column refers to the cistern under the front patio.


The tank appears to be quite large, and the remaining  downspouts on the building are still connected to the tank. It appears some cruisers in the past may have done some makeshift repairs to keep the system operational to some degree. But dipping some water from the tank with a cobbled bucket that someone had left brought up some very clear, good-tasting water! We didn’t drink any, but Molly and Sammy seemed to appreciate the refreshment, and we were glad to give them a fresh-water rinse! From what I estimate, the cistern has a capacity of close to 10,000 gallons, and probably has about a third of the tank filled. That’s a lot of fresh water! Evidently, some of the more experienced cruisers are aware of the presence of the tanks and frequent the location to take advantage of the free water!  Yeah, I got dysentery, but man it was free water!! The other building also had a very large cistern, partially filled as well. I suppose before the days of RO water, rainwater collected in cisterns was the primary source of drinking water on the islands. It is common to see downspouts that are routed down the side of the building and turn into the foundation walls. Many of the older buildings are constructed with a front porch or the foundation doubling as a tank. I have not observed the same on the newer construction.


We took the dink around to the south of the island, and back into the area just north of the old pier ruins where there is a DC-9 in the shallows just off the channel. It is said to be a remnant of period when the drug trade was very active in the Bahamas. It lies awash, with just the top of the fuselage visible at high tide, so it is easy to snorkel. It was windy and choppy the day we visited, but it still was interesting to see! Lots of fish make the inside of the plane their home, and smaller fish were swimming in the engine cowling and other areas offering hiding places.


We returned and rinsed our wetsuits and gear, then took the dogs back to the beach and spent the rest of the afternoon walking the beach and the dogs sniffing out all the smells along the way! We’ve learned that a saltwater shampoo will remove most of the sand, Molly swims then rolls in the sand until she is covered head to toe in it! So the dog-bath routine was repeated. The side benefit is that the cockpit floor also benefits from that rinse water. It’s incredible how the salt water gives everything that saltwater-sticky feeling! Although a water maker would be a great convenience to have while cruising here, even at $.50/gal for RO water, we can buy a lot of water for the cost of a watermaker, especially considering that nearly anywhere else we cruise, water is readily available, and usually free.

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