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Voyaging

A megayacht adventure in the Bahamas' Exuma chain of islands Page 3

Ancient-looking iguanas devour Romaine lettuce
Everything was okay on my first scuba dive

Thunderball looks like solid rock, but at low tide cave mouths leading to the interior cathedral dome appear. Our time swimming with the multicolored fish was limited by not only the slowly rising tide but also the growing number of snorkelers invading the soaring grotto.

Next, it was time to dispose of the leftovers from the barbecue. The easiest solution was to feed them to the free-range pigs of Staniel Cay. Armed with a garbage bag of leftovers, deckhand Allister Dickinson dropped anchor, and pigs appeared on the beach. But there was no need to go to them; the four pigs piggy-paddled out. Their mouths opened in eager anticipation of whatever we had to offer no matter if it was lettuce, chicken, or salmon.

That night, pre-dinner cocktails were at Staniel Cay Yacht Club, a bar decorated with the burgees of clubs from around the world. Soon the tenders again arrived to begin the barely choreographed dance of getting people to their dinner destination. (Guests of HP4 and the lavish Independence 2 saw us off as their boats were docked at the yacht club.) The stewardesses of Big City welcomed us with refreshing Kir Royales before showing us to the outdoor bridge-deck dining table for another fabulous three-course meal by tattooed chef Charlie Wilson.

James Bond didn’t have as much fun as we did in Thunderball.

When I awoke the next morning, we were already underway back to Nassau, but there was just enough time for a stop at Allen Cay to feed the wild iguanas. The 30-odd creatures spaced themselves evenly on the beach and seemed to move in unison in the direction of our romaine lettuce and grapes. Curious, but wary, the iguanas made their way toward us. Armed with a stalk of romaine, I hand-fed a fat, ancient one. Up close, his scaly green skin turned out to shimmer with color in the sun. When we ran out of lettuce, the iguanas lost interest and left to investigate the next boatload to come ashore.

And then we were off to the final rendezvous location, The Albany, an exclusive resort with a marina large enough to fit all five yachts. For a group of headstrong captains, the trip went without conflict though hints of competitiveness snuck out. Tuscan Sun was cruising at 11 knots, and the helm’s radar identified Big City passing, slightly faster at 12.5 knots.

After four days of multicourse meals (even breakfast seemed to have two courses), lunch underway would be a one-course grilled taco buffet. But that’s not to say we lacked for food—Chef Christina Jones-Garcia prepared a feast of Wagyu beef with a chili-cumin rub for the tacos.

After cocktail hour at The Albany (another James Bond film site, for Casino Royale), it was time for my final dinner. Independence 2’s chef, Victoria Allman, prepared the trip’s lightest meal of a citrus salmon, for which my overextended stomach was grateful.

With pants stretched to the max, my phone lit up with a text-message flight reminder, signaling the end of the trip. The next day, warm and sunburnt in my airplane seat, I dozed off humming the marketing jingle: “It’s better in the Bahamas.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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