• close family • small boat • big world •

Norman's Cay

June 20, 2014

by Nicole
Norman's Cay, Bahamas

Norman’s Cay is famous for its wrecked drug-running plane that lays in 12 feet of water and is turning into a reef. We anchored next to this island in the Exuma chain for a couple nights, and had a magnificent time exploring and diving there.  

Daystar and Norman's Cay from a small island
Drug-smuggler Carlos Lehder’s plane was a Curtis C-46 Commando that crashed in 1978 while doing an exercise called a touch-and-go. The plane was carrying a load of sod to the island and the pilot decided to practice take-offs and landings fully loaded. Had it not crashed, it would have turned right around and flown to the US, this time carrying a load of cocaine. The plane is almost completely submerged, with only a little bit above the water. The left wing of the plane is almost touching the bottom, the left propeller is missing, and the fuselage is almost broken in half. When we snorkeled it, there were fish everywhere. The most abundant were sergeant majors, which were very friendly; they would swim right up to you!  We explored the plane under the watchful eye of a barracuda, and on our way back we spotted a fish called a cowfish. Letting the plane turn into a reef is a much better use than what Carlos had planned for it. (My brother wrote more about Carlos Lehder here).
On a small island towards the east of Norman’s Cay and north of Wax Cay were the ruins of an old house
that belonged to Carlos Lehder. There wasn’t much to it – just the foundation was left – but it was still pretty neat to explore. We snorkeled the old dock right off the island, even though we didn’t expect there to be much life. However, we were wrong. It was cool to see needlefish hunting some smaller fish and a daisy brittlestar scurrying away after we picked up its rock. I found the partial shell of a purple lobster on the beach. 


We also snorkeled off Taffia Point at the Southern tip of Norman’s Cay. It was a good choice; there were lots of different kinds of fish. We saw an adorable brown and white goby, large schoolmasters, a big Nassau grouper, and a large southern stingray. We also saw something called a Christmas tree worm that looks more like a plant than a worm. They are really fun; when you put your hand near one it shrinks away into a hole and slowly reappears soon after. It was amazing, yet scary, to see a nurse shark. They are harmless to humans, but they’re scary all the same. This one was six or seven feet long. 

Our time at Norman’s Cay was capped off by the arrival of our friends on S/V Palantir. We had fun at a late-night beach bonfire with them on the western side of Norman’s Cay.