Bill carved 2011 into our sign atop Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells Cay. It is one of hundreds of signs left by cruisers there.
The Pirate’s Lair on the south end of Warderick Wells Cay is a spot ashore where pirates lounged about between raids on ships passing through the cut to the north. The nearby anchorage offered 6 meter depths and concealment behind high hills. The palms and grasses are not native to the Bahamas but rather to the gulf coast. There is a fresh water spring in the foreground – a real oddity on these desert cays.
These sergeant major fish were so numerous as to almost be pests at a reef called the Sea Aquarium.
Nearby were a variety of corals.
Bill saw this trumpetfish there. It is almost a foot long and less than an inch high; more like a pipe than a trumpet.
The Honeymoon Beach at Cambridge Cay is framed at each end by rocks. The surf that looks so romantic on the beach breaks on the incredibly sharp ironstone with violence. It is not a place you would want to be caught swimming.
This is my view out of the galley porthole looking at Sand Dollar Beach on Stocking Island across the harbor from George Town. I was kneading bread and got some of the dough on the camera.
Yes, the beach sand is pink. No, Bill is not mad.
I live in some fear of this tree. I know what poison ivy does to me, and I don’t want to learn what effect this tree has. (Most of them are not labeled, but I am good at picking them out.)
When last I wrote, we were tied to a mooring ball in the Warderick Wells Cay north mooring field where the Exuma Park headquarters are located. We spent a lovely Sunday, March 27 there enjoying the park. Bill hiked to Boo Boo Hill to see if the sign we left last year was still on the pile. (Cruiser’s leave a sign with the boat name, crew’s names, and the date in a big pile which is supposed to give the vessel and crew fair winds.) Bill found our sign, brought it back to the boat, and carved another year (MMXI) on it. We both walked back to Boo Boo Hill and replaced the sign on the pile. It is interesting to see what other cruisers have used to make their signs. Some are lettered with fancy paint, others embellished with colorful shells, still others are elaborately carved. There are lots of artsy cruisers. Ours is rather ordinary. The only rule is the materials have to be natural; no plastic debris allowed.
Monday morning we decided to move to Hog Cay at the south end of Warderick Wells Cay where there are five moorings. Bill was on deck getting the dinghy ready for a trip to the park office to pay for a mooring. I was still below. I heard a huge gasp and flew up on deck thinking Bill had fallen in the water. But thankfully no, it was just a huge sea turtle coming up for air. It was the third turtle and largest we saw there. The other two had greeted us as we were coming into the Warderick Wells harbor. Bill paid for one night’s mooring at Hog Cay. With little wind, we motored out the cut to the ocean side of the cay and down to the Hog Cay or south mooring field where after a few misses I finally hooked the mooring line and got it aboard.
Hog Cay is beautiful. The beach is called Pirate’s Lair supposedly because pirates used to hide their ships in the tight little anchorage. They would go ashore to party near a fresh water spring before sailing out to pounce on ships entering or leaving the cut to the north. It makes a good story. We walked around the beach and the snorkeled the shallow reef. There were lots of fish and really neat looking coral. We took a dinghy tour of the shoreline around the anchorage. It was another pleasant day in paradise.
Tuesday, we made a motor trip to Cambridge Cay, about 5 miles to the south. Cambridge Cay is the south-most cay in Exuma Park. There a mooring field host collects the fees and keeps boats from anchoring on the nearby coral or anchoring too close to the moored boats. Connie and Roger onboard Down Time had been the host since January. They really liked Cambridge Cay. They came over and had a beer with us and gave us a map of the nearby snorkeling sites. That afternoon we went to a place called the Sea Aquarium and to another spot with a wrecked airplane. The sergeant major fish at the Sea Aquarium were very tame swimming straight into Bill’s face. I think they had been fed. Bill saw a trumpetfish; his first. A trumpetfish is a long skinny fish with a long snout. Bill snorkeled. I used the glass bottomed bucket because we had forgotten to bring the dinghy boarding ladder. With the cut on my chest, I didn’t think I could get myself back in the dinghy without a ladder.
A cold front was forecasted to pass over us giving us wind from the west. Most of the anchorages here are on the west sides of the cays, and a west wind makes them very uncomfortable with lots of waves. Cambridge Cay is protected from the west, so we stayed for another three days. One afternoon we took the path across the cay to the lovely Honeymoon Beach. There I found a very nice cowrie shell. We also picked up a couple of live conch, but because it is in the park, we threw them all back. The next afternoon we walked over to the Exuma Sound Beach near Bell Rock. We walked to a camp in the shade of casuarinas with hammocks, a table, chairs, and lots of decorations all fashioned from trash washed up on the beach. We were joined by two other boating couples. We shared a beer with them and told lots of stories. One couple was from New York and the other from Cape Cod. It was an odd mix of accents.
With settled weather returning, most of the boats at Cambridge Cay would be leaving; we would go south while most of the others (the unlucky ones) would be going north to the states or Canada. The new mooring field hosts, Chris and Kim aboard a Cabo Rico 40, Synergy, arranged a beach happy hour. Everybody dinghed over to a small sand island so we could see the sunset. I made an onion tart. It was well received; every bit was quickly eaten. I spent a long time talking to a Brazilian couple who live in South Beach when they are not on their boat. From their description they live in one of the towers in one of the last blog’s photos. Bill and I both enjoyed the party, at least until someone noticed that the rising tide had picked up our dinghy floated it away. He was kind enough to give Bill a ride out to retrieve it.
Saturday morning, April 2, we headed out into Exuma Sound bound for Staniel Cay and the nearby Big Major’s Spot. We started off with the wind on our beam, but the wind soon moved forward heeling the boat and driving some spray aboard. We sailed most of the way, but we took our sails down before entering the Big Rock Cut with its twists and turns. The cut was pretty turbulent with the wind blowing against the outgoing tide, but it was not unmanageable. We anchored at Big Major’s Spot in time for a noon time anchor down beer. That afternoon and the next day we watched people go to the beach and to feed the pigs. We didn’t bother to do that spending our time catching up on the e-mail, reading, and knitting.
We needed clean clothes, food, fuel, and water. That meant Georgetown where there is a laundry, a real grocery store, a Shell service station, and free water. The trip would take three days.
Monday we motored out onto the banks side of the Exumas and headed south. The 20 knot wind and 3 foot waves were both on our nose making it a bumpy and wet, but short, five mile ride to Black Point. We motored the whole way. We anchored, but we didn’t launch the dinghy because of the strong wind. I baked some flat bread, and Bill wiped the salt off the boat.
Tuesday we again motored into the wind, but the wind wasn’t nearly as strong as before. The 10 mile trip to Little Farmer’s Cay was much smoother. We picked up a mooring ball off the Big Harbor. The moorings at Little Farmer’s are owned by either Little Farmer’s Cay Yacht Club, or Little Jeff, or the Ocean Cabin. We did not know which we had. Bill and I inflated the dinghy, and he went into town to find out who to pay. After some consultation with the locals, Bill determined that our mooring ball belonged to Ocean Cabin. He walked over to Ocean Cabin and spent about an hour talking to the proprietor, Terry Bain. Terry is quite a character. A one man Chamber of Commerce, a ceaseless promoter of Little Farmer’s Cay (pop. 53) , a world traveler, and a self proclaimed philosopher; Terry rules the top of his hill. Ocean Cabin itself is a restaurant where Bill made dinner reservations for us. We were the only guests that night, but no matter, Terry’s conversation provided entertainment while I had fish and Bill had conch. The food was great as was Terry’s specialty drink, the OCS or Ocean Cabin Special. It was the color of the aqua water outside beyond the palm trees. Best of all it contained ice, lots of ice.
We were up early on Wednesday April 6. It was about 35 miles from Little Farmer’s Cay to Georgetown. We deflated the dinghy and were underway by 9am. The wind was light so we started motoring but soon added the mainsail and then the genoa, but we kept the motor ticking over to keep up 5 knots so we could arrive at Conch Cay Cut in Georgetown while the light was still good enough to see the submerged reefs at the harbor entrance. We navigated the cut without a problem and anchored off Sand Dollar Beach in time for a sundowner.
After moving for three days in a row, we were looking forward to a little down time. Thursday noon, right as my loaf of bread finished rising, a boat from New Bern, Sea Monkey, came into Sand Dollar and anchored in front of us. They had left Northwest Creek Marina in January five or six days before we did. Mike and Bree came over for a beer. Unfortunately, our fridge was a little low on the beer, and a second round of cold beer was not to be had. Once the bread was done, we dinghied over to the Chat and Chill Beach Bar, met Mike and Bree again, sat on pastel colored Adirondack chairs at the water’s edge, had a few more beers, and ate some conch salad as the tide rose and slowly wet us. A three foot sting ray kept swimming across our feet in case we dropped anything edible. We got back to Irish Eyes just as the sun was setting. It was tough doing nothing.
Friday was restock day. We moved Irish Eyes across the harbor to be closer to town. Bill ferried 90 gallons of water and 25 gallons of fuel to the boat while I did the laundry and shopped for groceries. It had been so long since I did laundry, there was a pair of socks to be washed! I could hardly remember socks. Once our chores were completed, we went back across the harbor to re-anchor off Sand Dollar Beach. The anchor was down in time for a sundowner followed by hamburgers on the grill. We were pooped.
On Saturday we made up for all of Friday’s work by beach walking and swimming. I found a sand dollar and a few small shells. While we were walking on the sound side beach, we could see two large dark blue angel fish swimming in the surf on the shallow reef. They were really neat to watch in the crystal clear water as the breaking waves magnified them to far more than life size then shrunk them to mere dots. We returned to the boat, swam, scrubbed ourselves off with Joy detergent, then using the extra fresh water took a shower in the cockpit. Clean clothes, clean sheets, and clean us.
Today, Bill has puttered about fixing things while I have knitted. When the sun is a little lower we will take a walk and bring the dinghy on board. If the wind cooperates, we are planning on heading for Conception Island tomorrow.