Notorious Norman’s Cay – Home of Ill-Fated Legends and the Fyre Festival Fraud

You can’t blame the notorious for coming here.  I mean, look at the place.  

Norman’s Cay in the Exumas is nothing short of stunning.  It’s that unparalleled pairing of enticing tan sand, shimmering jewel-blue water, kissing a deep blue sky.  

So many of the islands throughout the Bahamas, and particularly in the Exumas look like this.  Yet, Norman’s has some impressive but ominous history.  I’ll have to consult with my lawyers, but I think I can rightfully say this: The island was once owned by Pablo Escobar.  

Norman’s Rule by Drug Giants, Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder

Unfortunately, in Florida, we are all too familiar with the Escobar name.  But, you cannot deny his craft and cunning as a pure business man.  Escobar saw, seized, and subjugated an opportunity that made incomprehensible millions.  But, a man cannot run an empire like that alone.  In the last 1970’s and early 80’s Norman’s Cay was primarily operated by Carlos Lehder, a fellow member of the Medellín cartel, as a transshipment base for smuggling cocaine from Columbia into the U.S.  Lehder hooked up with business partner George Jung during a stint in prison where he learned Jung had been smuggling marijuana into the U.S. via plane. Lehder, however, convinced Jung it was in his and the cartel’s best interest to begin smuggling cocaine via plane instead.  At the time, Lehder was one of Escobar’s right-hand men.

Lehder eventually constructed a 3,300-foot (1,000 m) long runway for his fleet of smuggling aircraft. To protect the island, he planted armed guards and attack dogs all along the beaches and runway, as well as radar to identify and fend off any pilot foolish enough to try and land there. The island was a strategic point for Colombian drug flights to refuel and rest before proceeding to the United States.  

And, as a drug hub, the island, not surprisingly, became a location for some serious partying.  With Lehder allegedly pulling in over $300 million a year off the operation, some partying stands to reason. Norman’s Cay was described as a “ … playground. I have a vivid picture of being picked up in a Land Rover with the top down and naked women driving to come and welcome me from my airplane,” one of Lehder’s men was quoted saying.  

The remnants of Lehder’s party palace on Norman’s Cay

“And there we partied. And it was … drugs, sex, no police… you made the rules… and it was fun.”  I’ll bet.  That’s probably the reason Norman’s Cay was chosen as the location for the fated Fyre Festival—the greatest party that never happened.  

The Fyre Festival Fraud

Did any of you hear about this or watch the documentary? The Fyre Festival was touted as the most luxurious, wild island party to ever occur, with intoxicating promo videos, models running all over the island titillating viewers, with promises of the best music talent in the industry performing at an island-wide nonstop music fest for days.  Go on, watch the trailer.  See what they promised:

Without spoiling the movie, I can at least say an all-out magnificent party did NOT happen, but the tale behind the hype and fall-out is mesmerizing.  Thousands of people bought tickets, costing thousands of dollars each.  Millions of people followed, commented, and shared.  It was an insanely successful … promotion.  Here is the official trailer for the official Netflix documentary – definitely watch it:

Interestingly, much of the Fyre Festival’s collapse centered around the marketing team’s forbidden statement that the island was once owned by Pablo Escobar. Apparently that name ignites certain feelings (and legal ramifications).  Ironically, it turned out in trying to capitalize on the legend of Escobar, Lehder, Jung, and the like, the Fyre Festival suffered the same fate: eventual demise. 

After an impressive five-year run dominating Norman’s Cay exclusively for the cartel’s cocaine trade, the Bahamian authorities began to crack down in 1982, allegedly in response to pressure from the United States, and Lehder was eventually arrested in Columbia in 1987.  His property was confiscated.  He stood trial in the U.S. and was convicted on all counts in 1988.  A fitting fate for a drug dealer. But, in another nod to their notorious past, Hollywood decided to commemorate their epic venture through Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in the 2001 movie, Blow, which was based on the cocaine escapades of Jung, Lehder, and Escobar.

While Norman’s Cay is now a wonderful addition to the Exumas, offering idyllic strolls on the beach, and fantastic rum drinks, island food, and waterview cottages for rent at the long-standing MacDuff’s Cottages and Restaurant, there is one icon on the island that stands out among others: the (alleged) drug plane that sunk in the shallows of Norman’s Cay’s cut. While much speculation circles this plane, surmising it must have crashed because it was weighed down by too many kilos of cocaine, or because the pilot and crew were blitzed out of their minds, I found this seemingly honest account from the mouth of Jack Reed, Carlos Lehder’s first pilot and resident on Norman’s Cay during the late 1970’s. This paraphrased excerpt comes from the book ‘Buccaneer: The Provocative Odyssey of Jack Reed, Adventurer, Drug Smuggler, and Pilot Extraordinaire’ by Jack Reed & Maycay Beeler and was posted at

The Iconic Sunken Plane

During Lehder’s reign over Norman’s Cay, an old C-46 World War II aircraft appeared piloted by one “British Andy.”  As a large twin-engine transport plane utilized to carry troops and cargo, Andy thought it would serve as a good transport in Lehder’s fleet.  While Lehder did not end up buying the plane, Andy left it there as a memento anyway. 

Legend had it, British Andy had a drinking problem (not surprising), and had been known to take along a six-pack for company on many of his flights (a bit surprising). Being on a short vacation seemed like a reasonable excuse for starting his favorite pastime first thing in the morning, even a morning he decided to drop by the airport, being a bit tipsy, to “fire-up the old sled and shoot some touch and goes” which is pilot language for practice take-offs and landings. An unsuspecting Columbian lad joined Andy on his venture and off they went.

As Andy made his approach for the first landing, he miscalculated the beginning of the runway and touched down short. Realizing his error at the last moment, he gave the old girl full throttle to execute a go-around. To his great dismay, he clipped an earthen berm, tearing the left landing gear loose from its housing, leaving it dangling from the aircraft by cables and hoses. The plane then dipped low enough for the propeller on the left engine to strike the runway – bending it – and rendering it useless. With the right engine roaring and straining to keep the plane airborne, a bit of altitude was gained, but it was only enough to clear the runway and make a slow settling arc to the left.  The plane ran out of flying speed and altitude about a block offshore of the marina in front of the hotel and belly-flopped to a splashing spectacular halt in shallow water, leaving roughly half of it submerged.

Many allegedly witnessed this fiasco. A boat at the marina made a quick trip to the site of the crash and rescued the two survivors, neither of whom had a scratch. Lehder furnished transportation for the embarrassed pilot back to the states, but the plane has sat in this location for decades, deteriorating, and being slightly repositioned by passing hurricanes. 

Here are the Fyre models snorkeling around the plane. I’m sure I looked just like that when we dove it. Even in my platypus suit.

Our Visit to Norman’s Cay

After spending a fabulous, indulgent night at Highbourne Cay, wining and dining ourselves silly at Xuma’s restaurant, Phillip and I weighed anchor the following morning and sailed over to Norman’s Cay. We were excited to spend the day exploring the island, snorkeling the famous sunken plane, and ending the full-day adventure with a filling meal and drinks at MacDuff’s restaurant.  And that is exactly what we did! Norman’s Cay, despite its ominous history, still offered a beautiful, bright sunny day on exquisite beaches followed by a fun, atmosphere at MacDuff’s and a chance to fill our bellies with a fresh catch.

While there were no sightings of Lehder’s ghost, we did spot a massive barracuda (easily four feet long) who lives in the sunken plane and eyes you menacingly if you swim too close.  Come to think of it, his eyes kind of reminded me of Lehder … 

All of these wonderful islands, with their legends and local treasures await!  We hope many of you are already planning your trip to the Exumas this coming year!  Help rebuild the Bahamas through tourism.  Next up, we will take you to our most stunning stop in the Exumas, and our favorite destination during our entire Bahamas voyage last year: Warderick Wells Cay. Stay tuned! 


Some great photos of the cartel remnants in Norman’s Cay –

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Our First Taste of the Exumas: Living Large at Highbourne Cay

While I feel very lucky Phillip and I cruised the Abacos last year when they were still intact, I feel even more lucky that in “blog time” I am now able to share the wonderful islands that still remain.  I don’t mind saying it again—remember: The best way to help the Bahamas rebuild, is to continue to visit the islands that were spared.  And, why would you not?  When this awaits!

This was mine and Phillip’s first introduction to the Exuuuummmaaas: Highbourne Cay!  If you recall our stop into Morgan’s Bluff on the north tip of Andros was an unexpected, but highly-rewarding, detour.  We had been getting our teeth kicked in sailing into some rough winds coming out of the Northwest Providence Channel that were unexpectedly more southeast than south, the exact direction we would have to sail if we wanted to go directly to the Exumas from Bimini (which had been our original plan).  But, go where the weather takes you, right?  And Andros really wowed us, even with just a short overnight stay.  As I mentioned previously, we are definitely planning to spend more time there this coming season and fully explore all that the Andros Barrier Reef has to offer! Our goal this past season, however, was to get to the Exumas.  Phillip and I had not cruised them yet, and we had heard from so many other cruisers how enchanting and unique they are.  So, we said “See you later, Andros!”  It was Exumas or bust. 

And, wouldn’t you know it. Those winds that were bashing us around the day before laid down and shifted more to the south, allowing us to sail … for a bit … until they completely died.  

You know there are only three kinds of wind, don’t you?  What are you gonna do?  We spent a wonderful day motoring across the Tongue of the Ocean, however, with the trolling line out, mind you.  Thinking surely we would catch another nice whopping fish (now, when it was calm and we had nothing else to really do).  But, no, the seas have quite the sense of humor.  I’m starting to think there are only three types of fish, too: 1) the monsters that bite at the worst time; 2) the even bigger catches that would impress all your friends that never bite at all (or take your lure if they do); and 3) the little ones you catch often but they’re too small to keep.  Would you agree?  Phillip and I definitely would have loved to have another guy like this to have bitten when we were crossing the deep blue!

But, fish.  What are you gonna do?  You’re going to eat wine and cheese instead!  That’s what you’re going to do.  

We have plenty of that on-board, and a nice easy passage made for a nice wine, cheese, and book session.  I believe I was reading Where the Crawdads Sing at that time.  Could not put it down.  Any of you read that one?  Or let me know what your other favorite read has been recently.  I absolutely devour books when we’re on passage.  It’s my favorite time to read!  : )

We eased into sunset and around the east tip of Nassau, where we really had to watch the AIS traffic. When we spent those three torturous months in the Pensacola Shipyard with Brandon at Perdido Sailor back in 2016, we installed AIS on the boat.  Man, life on the hard. Those are some hard-earned, well-worth-it memories!

Although we only receive AIS transmissions, we do not transmit, Phillip and I have found it to be a fantastic addition to the boat.  I love (love, love!) that when it’s completely dark out, cloudy, with no moon or stars to light the horizon on a night passage, that at least AIS is looking out and showing me where the boats are.  It is also immensely comforting to have AIS tell me how big the other ships are, which way they are going, and what our CPA (closest point of approach) is.  Phillip and I will never regret the decision to install AIS.  Also, this may sound silly to admit, but it is rather entertaining at night.  Phillip and I hold two-hour shifts on and off and sometimes those two hours can tick by rather slowly.  It’s kind of fun to click on AIS and see who else is out there, what is their ship name, how big is it, and even hale them on the radio if you need to communicate a safe passing.  I was sure glad we had it, too, on my shift that night, as this is what Nassau looked like when we rounded the bend.  A web of ships!

We had set our sights on Highbourne Cay, one of the most northern of the Exumas and a good “dive in” point for the Exumas as they have a little marina there with fuel and a few sparse provisions.  

It would be the last marina we would see in the Exumas for a while, so we planned to drop the hook on the lee side of Highbourne Cay and spend a fun day exploring Highbourne and the surrounding islands. And the Exumas immediately began welcoming us with a glistening, dazzling show! As we started to near Highbourne Cay, the dark, deep water of the Tongue of the Ocean began to shallow and transform into this crystalline blue.  It was absolutely stunning.  Hard to believe our boat was swishing and swaying though such a breathtaking jeweled surface.  

Phillip and I both couldn’t stop staring and taking pictures.  Well, okay I was the one taking the pictures.  It’s tough being the ship’s historian.  Someone’s gotta take all the selfies to prove we were there!  : )

The folks at the Highbourne Cay Marina were super helpful and friendly and got us all topped up for our planned passages further down into the Exumas.  We arrived fairly early in the morning with an open day ahead, which Phillip naturally filled with wonderful plans to dinghy a bit to the north up to South Allan’s Island and Iguana Beach.  That man is the best trip planner; he always picks something fun, interesting, active, and usually delicious.  I am one lucky gal I will tell you that.  

On the way up, we found a beautiful little reef to snorkel and threw out our trusty Mantus dinghy anchor.  That thing is such an asset on the dinghy.  Very well-designed, super functional, and—once dug in—mighty strong. 

The anchorage there at South Allan’s was stunning.  Staying the night on the hook in there would feel like you have the world to yourself. 

Well, you and the lizards!  There were plenty of them on Iguana Beach.  

Are iguanas lizards?  Maybe not.  Hopefully I didn’t offend them in my squeaky “I want a lizard selfie” run to the beach!  : )

There is a lizard back there, I promise. I don’t like to get too close to things that can leap and claw my eyes out.

Dinghying back to our boat is when I took this famous shot of our stern. The water in the Exumas was definitely of another caliber.

For dinner that night we decided to dinghy ashore and eat at the Xuma restaurant the guys at the marina had told us about, which from a quick stroll-by earlier that day, looked fabulous.  So, Phillip and I made the absolute perfect decision to blow our load there that night and splurge on an insanely-indulgent fine-dining dinner at Highbourne Cay.  Besides, we had to celebrate and cheers our first stop in the Exumas.  It took years of planning, hard work, saving, and some rather grueling boat projects to get our boat this far.  It was worth every cent, every calorie.  Some meals just are.  

Next up, we’ll take you to Norman’s Cay with its sunken drug plane and the famous MacDuff’s Restaurant.  Cheers!

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The Best Dorian Relief: Go Visit the Spared Bahamian Islands!

I’ve been struggling to write this, or write or post anything actually, here at HaveWind in the tragic aftermath of Dorian.  I can only imagine what it is like right now, boots on the ground, with fresh water and supplies running low, people injured and unable to get medical help, not to mention the heartbreaking decimation of so many beautiful houses, marinas, and restaurants.  Although Plaintiff’s Rest was mercifully spared, how can I post photos of us smiling, out on the boat, saying, look at us: “Just another great day sailing” [happy face] when so many others have lost so much?  I just can’t.  To be honest, other than sharing relief effort links and donating and contributing ourselves, I didn’t know what else to say.  Hence the recent silence and the last photo I posted anywhere:

But, thankfully, this is why I have Phillip.  My idea guy.  This is what he said:

“Tell them the best thing they can do to help the Bahamas recover and rebuild is to continue visiting the islands that were spared.”

Brilliant.  You can see why I love that man.  

I realized how insightful he was and how right.  Phillip was so right.  Many of the Bahamians who lived and worked in the Abacos are going to start migrating down to Andros, Nassau, the Berries, Eleuthera, and the Exumas and surrounding islands in hopes of rebuilding and finding work.  And, the economy in the Bahamas is supported almost entirely by tourism.  If we don’t continue traveling to the Bahamian Islands that were spared and continue to contribute to their tourist economy there, they will likely not be able to survive. While the loss of the beautiful Abacos, which—up until Dorian—Phillip and I had been planning on cruising again this coming season, is a tragedy, there remains so many places south of the Abacos that are equally breathtaking and that need our support.  This was a message we recently received from the Association of Bahamas Marinas:

Immediate relief efforts are imperative now to save lives and get people healthy and safe, and thankfully many people now are sharing various resources to help do that. Although it is exceedingly sad to know there are humans on the earth that prey on people trying to help in a time of tragedy like this, it is simply true, so please research relief organizations before donating.  Also, many try to go straight to the hurricane site right after the storm to bring supplies, but that can put them in a terribly dangerous situation fraught with the potential for injury, disease, and crime. Donations to the organizations that are providing supplies to Bahamians in need or helping them evacuate is crucial right now. But, I agree with Phillip that—long-term—to help save the Bahamian economy, tourism must come back.  If you had ever just fancied the idea to visit the Bahamas, please make it a priority to visit the spared islands in the coming years as they will need our tourist dollars to survive and rebuild.  

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you all some previews of the other wondrous places south of the Abacos that Phillip and I visited the last time we were in the Bahamas, that were thankfully spared from Dorian and that we look forward to sharing in more detail with you in upcoming blog posts (full of fun travel stories) because I feel we have to continue focusing on that, too: the excitement and wonder of travel. Hurricanes are horrible, but they cannot be stopped or controlled.  How we choose to spend our time, despite them, however, is something we are all able to control.  Our collective decision to continue to bring tourism to the Bahamas can help bring the Abacos back. My good friend Pam Wall, whom I will be speaking with at Cruiser’s University at the upcoming Annapolis Boat Show (please sign up if you want to attend our “Old Salts, New Systems” talk and haven’t already! : ) initially inspired Phillip and I to travel to the Abacos back in 2015. Thankfully, we did in 2017-2018 and got to enjoy those wonderful islands before they were decimated.  But, I will now join the chant Pam said so energetically to us to hopefully inspire you all this coming cruising season to: 


Andros, Nassau, the Berries, Eleuthera, and the Exumas and surrounding islands still have so much to offer and they desperately need your support.  Tourism is their lifeblood.  Keep it pumping!  Here are some of the breathtaking sights, scenes, bites, and drinks that await.  Phillip and I hope to see some of you there!  


I wrote extensively about Andros last time, showcasing all of the wonderful tucked-away treats that often skipped-over island offered up for us.  I’m so glad it was spared as we have plans to go back and stay in Fresh Water Creek and dive and spear-fish the great Andros Barrier Reef. The cost for cruising there (water and food) is much better as it is a bigger island, able to obtain and preserve more food and supplies.  

Here are some resources for things to do and see in Andros:

The Berry Islands

If you recall Phillip and I sailed there previously on our way home from the Abacos and met the wildly-memorable Steve and Pat who inspired my “People with Gusto” article in SAIL Magazine. The Berries offered Phillip and I some of the best spearfishing we have done in the Bahamas, and some of the bluest waters. 

They also have a world-class big fishing tournament.  Learn more about all the wonderful things you can do and see in the Berries here:


Phillip and wandered through the jaw-dropping Atlantis resort the last time we flew through Nassau and, for those of you who love the lavish, indulgent, resort-feel vacation, Nassau is an absolute dream.  Five-star dining, incredible shopping, and all still with the mind-boggling green-blue beaches that you can only find in the Bahamas.  We learned last time from our cab driver that Tiger Woods has his own golf course there, and restaurant that you can eat at.  

Here are some more resources for all of the amazing things you can do in Nassau:

I also really liked what these fellow travel bloggers had to say about Nassau:


Phillip and I stayed for a while in Harbour Island, in Eleuthera, hunkering down as a blow passed through, and we really loved the community, the restaurants, and … for us … the kite-surfing! I wrote a fun blog post previously about our passage through the Devil’s Backbone into Harbour Islandand all of the fun things Harbour Island had to offer, from the pink sand beach on the North (where you can ride horses on the beach!), to the snorkeling, shelling, eat at Sip-Sip on the Atlantic Coast, and so much more!

Here are some more resources for Eleuthera.  Phillip and I barely scraped the surface exploring Harbour Island.  Next time we plan to rent a car and drive around to experience the entire island:

Cat Island

Phillip and I have not personally been so I don’t have any personal photos to share, but I will tell you one of the reasons I knew I wanted to travel the Exumas and surrounding islands the next time we came to the Bahamas was because of a photo I saw that a friend posted of Cat Island! 

Here are some resources for things to do at Cat Island:

A fellow travel blogger also put together this nice travel guide for Cat Island:

The Exumas

Thankfully, Phillip were able to make a quick jaunt over, from Andros, to the Exumas the last time we were there.  While we did not get to spend too much time exploring the Exumas (our plan is to do more this coming season), from what we saw we were spellbound.  They really are telling you the truth when they say you’ve never seen beauty like the Exumas.  We cannot wait to share more about these places we traveled to in the Exumas:

Higbourne Cay

With its picturesque marina, fun, fascinating snorkeling, and wonderfully-decadent Xuma’s Restaurant:

Here is more information on what Highbourne Cay has to offer:

They even offer a snorkeling and diving guide for the island:

Norman’s Cay

With its famous MacDuff’s Restaurantand sunken plane!

More info on Norman’s Cay:

Warderick Wells Cay

This was mine and Phillip’s favorite destination out of our entire trip to the Bahamas this last spring. Warderick Wells is a protected land and sea park so there is no fishing on the reefs, which means they are exquisite and so well-preserved!  There’s also a friendly neighborhood nurse shark that visits every new boat that comes into the anchorage, as well as a fabulous walking trail with blow holes and a signing tree.  I cannot wait to tell you more about this fabulous island, and the hilarious docking (or I guess you could call it balling … yeah you can make a comment about that ; ) balling debacle we had there!  Good stories lie ahead my friends!

Here is some more information about the beauty and preserved sites Warderick Wells has to offer:

And, these are only three of the dozens of islands that make up the Exumas, each with something unique and magical to share.  And, everyone who lives on those islands is hoping and praying for tourists just like you to come visit and keep bringing your support and important cruising dollars to their struggling economy.  Why hesitate?  So much beauty and awe awaits!  We hope his can help encourage some followers to set their sights on the amazing islands that still remain.  Our thoughts are with those in the Abacos working hard now to get safe, healthy, and out of there if need be.  Dorian was such a devastating monster.  But, the Bahamas will and can rebuild.  With our help.  Andros, Nassau, the Berries, Eleuthera, and the exquisite Exumas still await.  Our message to offer the best Dorian relief is:


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One of the Bahamas’ Best Kept Secrets: Andros

Phillip and I had no plans to stop in Andros on our last voyage through the Bahamas.  Although we do have a good friend who told us (when we were planning our first trip to the Bahamas in 2017) that it is a great spot for kitesurfing, we got caught up like most do in our excitement to see the Exuuumas!  When most people write and post about the remote, untouched beauty of the Bahamas, they’re usually referring to the Exumas and surrounding islands. Places like Cat Island:

Staniel Cay with its famous James Bond Thunderball Grotto:

Or Little Exuma with its Tropic of Cancer Beach:  

Many Bahamas cruisers told us while the Abacos are fun and stunning in their own right, there is just something pristinely breathtaking about the Exumas.  So, when we left Bimini headed toward New Providence Channel all headings were pointing east, to the Exumas.  But, as you know from our last blog and my scariest moment of the trip, the weather forced us on a slight detour.  And, as is usually the case, Phillip and I were thrilled we took the detour because it revealed to us yet another new, exciting destination in the Bahamas: Andros. 

Although our mere single-night stay this last time proved to us Andros is a rare gem, with experiences and stories all its own, after researching further we have since learned Andros is one of the most cost-effective and well-stocked islands in the Bahamas.  Because it is so large, produce and water are often in much greater supply than the smaller islands.  As many of you may know, water can cost as much as $1.00/gallon in certain areas of the Bahamas.  With as much water as Phillip and I need to drink while sweating and dehydrating daily in the Bahamas and use for showering and rinsing the boat, the price for water in the Bahamas can start to creep into the budget.  

We also learned Andros is home to one of the best and largest barrier reefs in the Bahamas, the Andros Barrier Reef, which Phillip and I plan to dive and snorkel in the future. 

Ahhhh … it’s so comforting to see healthy reefs!

The spearfishing would also be good on the east shore of Andros as it drops right into the Tongue of the Ocean. Catching fresh fish to cook on the boat every night is not only delicious, it’s also not bad on the wallet either. All told, Phillip and I are planning to check out Fresh Water Creek and spend more time in Andros the next time we sail by. We know it’s worth another stop for more discovery because we got a personal, local peek into the island this last time when Phillip scored three-hour driving tour guided by a long-time Andros local and the Harbor Master, a wonderful woman named Kenedra (whose name I can only hope I’m spelling correctly) and her bubbly daughter, Diamond!  

We dropped the hook in Morgan’s Bluff rather early in the morning, hours before dinner time (and you remember what was for dinner that night! : ).

With the whole afternoon on our hands, Phillip and I decided to venture ashore to take a poke around and see what life is like at Morgan’s Bluff.  

I’ll admit it is just a beautiful little beach with a tiny little rum bar, but that sounds like heaven to me!  And, it was.  The beach there on the north end of Andros was nothing short of stunning. 

And, an ice cold Kalik and rum drink after the beat-down and fish battle we’d just been through was quite the reward. 

After talking with a local at the bar, we inquired about a potential tour of the island and he personally set us up with the Harbour Master, Kenedra, who offered to take us around the island herself personally that afternoon by car.  This was such a surprise and wonderful treat.  

Kenedra first took us to the huge rocky bluff on the northern tip of Andros.  It really is a steep ways up with a harsh rocky shore below. 

Legend has it, the cruel and infamous buccaneer Henry Morgan (you guessed it … THE Captain Morgan) had a hideout in a cave at this most northwestern tip of Andros.  He and his crew allegedly hid their booty, both gold and rum (that’s worth hiding!), in the cave because the bluff the cave is located under was a notoriously dangerous spot for ships.  Since most other sailors and pirates avoided this area because of its treacherous shore, Captain Morgan thought it was the best place in the world for his treasure. 

Kenendra snapped mine and Phillip’s photo in front of the sign commemorating the Captain Morgan legend on Andros.  

She told us, though, by the end of his career, legend says Captain Morgan was known not for his keen pirating abilities, but for his excessive drinking and weight gain.  Blame it on the rum … 

Kenedra drove us all over the island, stopping frequently to catch up with fellow Andros residents.  (This is very common in the Bahamas.)  Locals usually do not pass each other on the roads without honking and waving, at the very least, and often not without stopping and talking for a bit.  It never ceases to amaze me how connected they are, compared to people in the States who can go for days, weeks (months even!), without talking to any people in their neighborhood.  The sense of community there is truly heart-warming.  After the Bluff and Captain Morgan’s famous cave (and specifically in response to her daughter, Diamond’s, insistent urging) Kenedra also took us to a quirky little hotel, the Pineville Motel, where the owner has a petting zoo with an eclectic mix of animals, ranging from goats, to peacocks, to rabbits. 

 I wanted to pet (keep) them all! Thankfully, Phillip put the kibosh on it (or that would make for quite an interesting sail on Plaintiff’s Rest the next day! Phillip and I also posed for another cameo photo on the Pineville Motel’s Disco Stage.

[Strike your own John Travolta disco move now! That’s a HaveWind order!]

Yeah baby!

Kenedra also took us to an exquisite little bungalow resort on the island, the Andros Island Beach Resort, and introduced us to the owner who runs the rental units (adorable little cottages right on the beach) and the restaurant.  

Phillip and I were really surprised to see such amazing accomodations here, that would cost upwards of $500/night on the east coast of Florida going for a mere $200/night in the Bahamas.  Another reason it pays to travel.  

Diamond was cracking me up at this point. Over the course of the three hours she went from shy and unengaged to bubbly and inquisitive. Diamond and I became good little buddies by the end of it. She wanted to braid my hair. I should have let her!

Our last stop on the tour was the “Blue Hole.”  While we have since learned there are many of these in the Bahamas, the one in Andros carries all the way out to the ocean.  

The hole formed when a portion of the limestone island caved in, leaving a stunning blue water hole in the middle of the island fauna that is filled with cold, rainwater.  But, if you dive the hole, you will start to lower down into water with more salinity and you can eventually cave dive your way out of the hole into the Tongue of the Ocean on the east coast of Andros.  

How cool is that?  It was cool enough for Phillip to jump in!

I only hesitated (as you all know I love to jump from cliffs) knowing if I got soaked I’d have to drench Kenedra’s car with my wet soppy clothes and wild pile of hair.  Stinking hair … there are so many times I wish I was bald and more “quick-dry” like Phillip.  

The highlight of the Andros tour, however, was not a destination, but it was a big deal.  It was a dilly!  While we were chatting and driving around in the car, Diamond, happily jumping into our conversation the further we drove, suddenly blurted out “Have you guys tried a dilly yet?”  I wasn’t sure how to answer that.  I didn’t even know what a dilly was.  Is it a food?  Is it a dance?  A local handshake?  I could confidently say to Diamond, “No, I have not tried a dilly yet.”  With a gleam in her eye, her mom Kenedra (without saying a word) drove several roads leaning forward and looking up and out the windshield to the left and right, finally pulled off near a particular tree. No sooner than she put it in park, Diamond busted out of the car and started sprinting toward a very tall, bushy tree and began whacking at the upper branches with a long stick.  Phillip and I exchanged a fun “What’s the dilly-yo?”glance as Kenedra followed her daughter and started whacking too.  

Unfortunately, just as soon as it became clear to us they were trying to knock some type of fruit off of the tree for us to try, Kenedra said: “I tink dey all been picked ooh-vuh.”  But Diamond would not give up.  She kept scrambling, kept whacking, until we finally heard a muffled voice from within the cavern of the fauna.  “I got one!” Diamond cried as she came running out, her spoils in hand: a perfectly ripe dilly fruit.  Kenedra and Diamond eyed us as we eyed the fruit.  Diamond cracked it in half with her hands (a dilly is roughly the consistently of a firm kiwi on the outside, an almost ripe peach on the inside). The two halves were a bright, blazing orange.  

Definitely a fruit I had never seen before.  The word guava came to mind, but then I remembered those are green on the outside, pink on the inside.  This dilly was totally different.  But, the taste was very similar.  

Mmmm guava … I thought as the super sweet interior slipped down my throat.  Phillip and I ate both of our halves right there on the side of the road in Andros, getting all sticky-fingered without even caring, and we still note it as one our favorite “bites” of the entire trip.  

I think it was the combination of the surprise and newness Andros offered, the generosity of our hosts, and Diamond’s enthusiasm to share something of her local community with new friends.  All of it came together to culminate in the perfect sweet treat.  As we said goodbye to Kenedra and Diamond and dinghied back to our boat, Phillip and I agreed that’s what Andros felt like to us: the perfect sweet treat.  New, unexpected, and rewarding.  

Andros, we will definitely be back.  Next up, we’ll weigh anchor from (Captain) Morgan’s Bluff and make our way to our first island in the Exumas!  Man, so much work and effort has gone into bringing the boat to this point.  I still get thrills now just remembering and writing about it.  Stay tuned!

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Fish Off the Hook – MY Scariest Moment of the Trip

Do you see it in the photo? That fish is off the hook! Literally!  Looking back, I still can’t believe Phillip and I actually got that one into the cockpit, but the pics are proof: WE DID!

Ahoy followers!  After that stretchy sidebar, it’s now time to get back to our Bahamas saga.  When we last left our hapless crew, Phillip and I (well, actually I) had just accomplished my best de-docking ever leaving Bimini (and, don’t worry, there will be plenty more not-so-great dockings after).  We were heading out early in the morning after a five-day hunker-down (that’s a military term I think) in Bimini when we had some steady east winds upwards of 18 kts on us for several days.  While it did make for some great kiting in Bimini, after five days, most of the boats on our pier were ready to toss the lines and get going.  

The winds were predicted to be a light ESE, that Philip and I were hoping would turn more south than east. (And, I hope you’ll notice my clever “hope” foreshadowing here.  As is often the case when we try to predict the wind, we are wrong.  I would call it bad foreblowing as opposed to foreshadowing but I wouldn’t want to entice toooo many foul jokes : ).  The winds were nice enough to start.  We were hauling away from Bimini toward our entrance into the Great Bahamas Bank with plans to make an overnight passage to either the west harbor on Nassau or—if things were going well on the passage—all the way to the Exumas, which was our ultimate goal this first leg of the trip.  Always good to have planned “outs” and “plan Bs” at the ready.    

It was a brisk romp in about 18kts of breeze (not what we expected, so much for the foreblowing) but it was comfortable making our way toward the Great Bahamas Bank.  

Phillip and I are still very pleased with our decision to trade out our whopping 135% genoa for our 90% offshore working jib when we’re cruising island to island (or country to country) and know we’ll be doing a good bit of offshore cruising.  Unlike “Genny,” our little “Wendy” (aptly named by one of my HaveWind followers) is super sporty and rarely gets overpowered.  It was really a fun day sailing all the way into the Great Bahamas Bank and beyond.  

While I didn’t expect it, after spending only five days and four nights on the dock in Bimini, I had already missed offshore voyaging.  That may sound a little silly having just crossed the Gulf Stream to get to Bimini, I’m serious!  When you actually get going and find yourself weighing anchor (or tossing the lines) and getting the boat moving—to an entirely new location—every 3-4 days, 5 days starts to seem just one to many.  The moment you’re back offshore, moving again, you realize how much you missed it.  

And, it didn’t hurt that the stars over the Bahamas Bank that night were just decadent. A white smattering of them, like salt on the sky.  And, I remember seeing several shooting stars that evening (and making several wishes). That I cannot share!  (It’s a Star Pact.)

The next morning, I had the sunrise shift, which is totally fine with me.  I love the shift where the sky transitions from night to day.  It’s amazing to watch it change seemingly slowly at first and then so quickly.  It still stuns me sometimes—when Phillip and I are in work mode, doing all of our busy marketing and lawyer work on land, where we don’t see near as many sunrises and sunsets as when we’re on the boat cruising—that this still happens out there. Out there, every morning (when it is clear), the sky turns from this velvety purple, to mind-boggling magenta, to a warm welcoming pinkish-yellow.  Every day. Whether you see it or not.  It’s not like wondering whether a tree that falls in the forest makes a sound.  No. I’m confident every single sunrise is beautiful, exquisite, whether seen or not. 

But, that serene “Ahhh … life is wonderful” Annie-moment didn’t last long as we were coming towards the entry into the Northwest Providence Channel and the Tongue of the Ocean. In reality, it is a rather wide entrance.  But, when a barge is coming through at the very same time, it is a rather narrow entrance. Phillip had only been asleep about 40 minutes when I was debating waking him again.  Not that we try to be prideful, in not needingto wake the other crew member (known on our boat as the “other captain” : ) up—well, Phillip might be … a tad … he still is a Marine, or helpful, in letting the other person sleep more when we know they are tired.  

No.  On Plaintiff’s Restwe try to always follow the standing “When to Wake the Captain Rule” which I have written on before.  That rule is: It’s time to wake the Captain when you’ve thought: Maybe I should wake the Captain.  Standing rule.  Applies all the time.  

And, with a 600-foot barge coming toward the NW Providence Channel inlet the exact same time I was with a CPA (closest point of approach on our AIS) narrowing from 0.8 of a mile to 0.6 down to 0.3 in about 20 minutes, I knew it was time to wake my “other captain.”  While Phillip was not thrilled with his 40-minute-only nap, he is always very diligent in getting up and getting alert quickly when there is a potential issue. Although this one was a little embarrassing in that by the time we passed the barge just before the entrance, it was clear 0.4 nm apart is a perfectly safe distance in the daytime with everyone motoring along in calm seas.  The entrance to the channel suddenly felt monstrously wide leaving me plenty of room, which mighthave left me a little embarrassed for having woke Phillip.  But, I was not.  This is the very reason for the rule.  It alleviates the need to feel embarrassed or ashamed.  (And I like it that way.) 

But that little “adventure” was just the start of our harrowing day which turned out to be MY scariest moment of the entire trip.  I have written about Phillip’s before.  It was our “Auto Turn-Notto” dilemma before we left for the Bahamas (which, granted, was before we left for our trip) but that was Phillip’s answer when he was asked: “What was your scariest moment of the trip?”  That was his. This was mine.

As we started to make our way into the Tongue of the Ocean, things got a little bumpy.  The predicted “light” ESE winds were 18+ kts right on the nose.  While Phillip and I had been hoping they would turn south sooner as predicted, they had not.  And, ironically, although they had been blowing like stink dead out of the east for days, we would have welcomed an east wind now as it would have been more on our beam, rather than the nose.  But, nope.  We had those two kinds of winds that often occur together: winds of the wrong speed and in the wrong direction.  “My favorite!” said no sailor ever.

While we were … somewhat comfortable … it was a bit of a bash-around bumpy ride, and the thought of continuing in that fashion for another 6-7 hours to Nassau or (worse) another 18-24 to the Exumas was … not very appealing.  After some discussion, thought, and chart-checking, Phillip and I decided to pull into Andros.  We had never been there before, but a good friend of ours from back in Pensacola (Captain Jack if you’re listening – here’s your “shout-out!”) had highly recommended it as a more untouched part of the Bahamas and a great spot for kitesurfing.  Two things we love to find the most while traveling: tranquility and kite access. So, we decided to head for a new anchorage to us, a place we had not originally intended to go during this trip to the Bahamas, but NOT “going with the weather” was a lesson we had learned in the past.  

The wind and seas were telling us to get out of this mess, so that is exactly what we chose to do.  Morgan’s Bluff looked like a safe little harbor that would offer us awesome protection from the ESE and S winds for the evening while this stuff blew over.  

It seemed, from the info in the charts, there was not much to do ashore, but we didn’t care. Phillip and I can make a lot of fun out of “not much” if we need to, and that’s only if we need.  We are perfectly content to sip sundowners in the cockpit, cook aboard, and watch the sun go down.  So, it was Morgan’s Bluff or bust!

But, that also meant coming into a new, narrow entrance in some kicked-up seas with winds on the nose knocking the boat all around.  Good times. While the B&G chartplotter showed a nice little curve of an inlet with plenty of depth and very clear markers for it, that map was for FantasyLand!  In reality, there were no markers in sight.  Although this is common in many places in the Bahamas (they simply don’t have the government funding, or the need, to maintain navigation markers as rigorously as we do in the states), it’s often not a big deal because the Explorer Charts are soooo accurate.  If I haven’t stressed that point strongly enough, I’ll happily do it again: If you’re planning to go to the Bahamas, get and study the Explorer Charts before you go and use them while you navigate!  

Phillip was at the helm while I was religiously trying to match the lats and lons on the Explorer Charts to what was showing on the B&G as we made our way into Morgan’s Bluff in Andros.  Maybe for some of you this is easy (following lats and lons on a diagonal).  Annie proved to be not so good at it.  To my credit, I asked Phillip to let me helm this time on the way in while he navigated (since I did such a piss-poor job of it when we made our way into Bimini) but he said he was “in the zone.”  I would have loved to have been in his zone, because I was totally screwing up my zone. I don’t know how else to explain it other than a brain fart.

For some reason I was watching and monitoring the lats just fine, counting each degree as one, but stupidly my brain decided to attribute ten degrees to every one on the lons so I had us coming in almost dead from the north straight toward Morgan’s Bluff as opposed to making a wide curve to the east and coming in inside the inlet.  

This is the actual, natural channel you should take into Morgan’s Bluff.
This is the haphazard path I had us on which was littered with little “x’s” on the chart to mark rocks. : O

Once I realized my mistake I could see we were weaving through some rocks along our path toward the harbor with no seemingly safe space to turn around, so there was just nothing we could do but hope the rocks were deep enough not to cause any problems.  That was one of the worst gut-wrenching moments I’ve had on our boat, feeling the boat rise and fall with the waves and thinking I might be the cause of our keel striking a rock.  It literally made me feel sick, and I hope I never have that feeling again (although I’m sure I will).  The only other time I’ve felt physically ill because of something that might happen to the boat was when Hurricane Nate was seemingly making its way to Pensacola in 2017.  Yuck.

I will also go ahead and admit here I didn’t disclose the full gravity of our situation to Phillip at that time for two reasons: 1) I knew we couldn’t change or improve it at that point so why worry him further, I thought; and 2) I became too distracted anyway when right as we were bashing through the hairiest part, we got a


Isn’t that when it always happens?  Phillip and I had been trolling the entire time since we left Pensacola, all the way around the Florida Keys, across the Gulf Stream, and once again when we got into the Tongue of the Ocean, and that entire time fish after fish had bitten off our lure.  Phillip and I joked often—when people, in person or on Facebook asked whether we’d caught any fish on the trip: “Of we’ve done plenty of fishing,” we’d say.  “We just haven’t done any catching.”  And, it’s true.  We lost lure after lure to those feisty fish in the Gulf.  I had to laugh thinking all those hours we spent when we were sailing over tothe Bahamas, in calm seas just watching the fishing line hoping for a bite, reeling it in time and again “just to check” we’d say, and throwing it back out. Any of those times would have been the perfect time to snag a big fish.  But, no, Neptune has to throw one our way when we’re beating and bashing along, off of the safe path (thanks Annie), making our way into a new, unknown harbor.  That’s the perfect time to be hauling in a fish!  

So, haul we did!  I took the helm and Phillip started pulling slowly and steadily winding our hand reel in.  I will say I was grateful for the excitement of the fish in that moment to dissipate some of my boat nerves.  In that sense the fish was a blessing.  But, boy was he a monster?!  Here’s one quick little video of him popping out of the water.

The first time I saw him zip to the outside of the boat, breach the surface and sink back down, I knew he was big.  Phillip could tell by how hard he was having to pull—using his entire body to arch back to get some length in the line so he could then fold the hand reel over to get another 10 inches on the guy.  

It was a slow and steady fight but Phillip finally brought him close enough where I could try to gaff him, which can be very hard to do with a fighting monster three feet below you, on a bobbing, swaying boat.  But I finally got him right under the gills and by some wicked twist of fate it was at that very moment the hook came out of his mouth, which meant my gaff was the onlything standing between us and the biggest fish we’ve ever seen behind Plaintiff’s Rest.  I was terrified he was going to kick and flail and fight his way off—and, believe me, he tried—but I kept turning the hook in hopes it would hold—and, thankfully, it DID!  When I hauled that bloody beast over the lifesling (leaving a nasty bloody trail on it but I didn’t give a you-know-what) and flopped him into the cockpit floor, Phillip let out a “Holy crap, that guy is huge!”  And he was.  That was the biggest fish we have caught to date on Plaintiff’s Rest.  He was as long as my leg!  And, that’s not a tall fish tale.  We have proof!  

That photo, however, was the second picture I made Phillip take because I wanted to capture the full length of that guy before I hacked him up and, in trying to do so the first time, the fish flipped off my gaff right when Phillip clicked the camera. So, we captured a fish in mid-air!

It was such a wild, heart-pumping moment pulling that guy in while bashing our way into Andros, scary but fun, frightening but exhilarating.  Cruising often feels like that.  All the times between the leisure, lavish cocktails-and-bikini days.  How did my friend Pat define cruising?  Oh yeah: Serene, tropical days interspersed with moments of sheer terror.  Yeah, that about sums it up.  Oh, that and the fish!  I made a bloodbath of our cockpit cleaning that big boy up.  

But look at that filet. It’s bigger than my thigh!  (And I’ve got some meaty thighs!)

As Phillip and I often do when we catch a fish that big, we cut up equally-sized (to the best of our ability) filets and bag some for the fridge, but more for the freezer so we can enjoy fresh fish at any time during our travels.  The Mahi we cooked up that night, was probably some of the best fish we had during our entire trip to the Bahamas.  (I’m sure the sheer terror of the moment combined with the monstrous fight getting him into the boat, followed by the hour-long cleaning of the fish, then the boat had some impact on the flavor, but it was a well-earned reward).  

And, I kid you not, that fish fed Phillip and I, two filets each (at least, sometimes 2-3), six dinners over during our Bahamas trip.  It had to be 8-9 pounds of edible fish.  That guy was such a blessing!  A long-awaited one, and certainly a wildly ill-timed one, but a blessing all the same! 

Thank you Neptune!!

Next up, we’ll share one of our favorite new places in the Bahamas.  A spot Phillip and I never thought we would stop at this trip but one we cannot wait to go back to explore further: the beautiful, untouched, but well-resourced, Andros.  Stay tuned!

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Stretching the Love with Spandex Therapy

It’s like stretchy therapy for your heart and soul. Because life happens.  We all struggle.  Laughter helps.  But, spandex heals.  Hello HaveWinders!  I wanted to take a quick detour from our Bahamas tales to share some exciting news and one helluva inspiring story.  If Spandex Therapy is anything, it’s about sharing people’s stories.  But it is also my latest business venture!  This lovely (and very funny) gal here, Rachel, and I recently launched our Spandex Therapy website and swag at a Pensacola paddle board event!

When my friend, Rachel, first came to me with the idea, my face probably looked a lot like yours did when you read the title of this blog.  “What is Spandex Therapy?” you’re probably wandering. The funny thing is, YOU are probably a huge fan of what we call “spandex therapy” already, you just didn’t know it. Spandex Therapy is about inspiring and connecting people who get their bodies moving to keep their minds balanced and buoyant.  We share their stories because they empower us in the face of our own struggles, because everyone has a story.  Whatever you’re struggling with—whether it’s huge (the loss of a loved one or some other deep heartbreak or sorrow) or just the minor stresses of life that make us feel small, angry, stressed, disappointed, like a failure—it helps to step outside, move your feet, connect with nature and other people, and let the stress you’re dealing with start to pour out of you (like sweat!).  Spandex Therapy offers content and gear that inspires people to laugh a little, love a lot, and go work IT out.  It’s not exercise. It’s therapy … at your own pace.

You see? That’s some pretty empowering stuff. That’s why when Rachel asked me to be her business partner in launching this awesome platform, I said yes!

She sealed the deal with a unicorn ring. I’m a sucker for unicorns.

And, look at me.  Donning spandex right there!  I mean, I practically live in spandex!