Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bill carved another year in our sign, and we left it on top of Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells Cay.

The Bahamian racing dinghies are wooden boats built on the beach with simple tools.  These two were in Black Point.  In previous years we have seen them raced in George Town.

The beach at Jack’s Bay Cove was covered with shells.  I could pick them up by the handful.

I’m standing on the beach at Hetty’s Land on Great Guana Cay.  Our boat and dinghy are the only things in sight.  There is not a road, a car, a house, or another soul.

Greetings once again from the Emerald Rock Mooring Field at Warderick Wells Cay, the Exuma Land and Sea Park Headquarters.

This is the spot with WiFi internet access where I posted my last blog entry.  These places are few and far between.  With a cell phone signal, my Kindle works perfectly fine for AOL and Facebook.  Bill’s ham license lets him (slowly, oh so slowly) send and receive email with the boat’s shortwave radio.  Neither one works for posting a blog or for uploading pictures.  We tried twice to get a Batelco SIM card for my old cell phone which we can tether to the PC, but for whatever reason that did not work.  So, for $10/100Mb/day we are using the park’s satellite internet link.

When we were here in April, we walked to the top of Boo Boo Hill and retrieved our sign.  It was broken and looked like someone had stepped on it.  We searched for Impetuous III’s sign from last year, but we could not find it.  Bill found a piece of wood on a nearby beach and repaired our sign adding a sixth year, MMXIII (2013).  The next day we walked back up Boo Boo Hill and replaced our sign on the pile.  Putting a sign on the hill is supposed to bring boaters good luck.  Believe me, we need all the good luck we can get.

There was a French biologist here studying the hutias.  Hutias are the only mammal native to the Bahamas.  They look like a cross between a rabbit and a rat with a rabbit’s feet and a rat’s tail and ears.  These animals were reintroduced to Warderick Wells Cay to restore an endangered species.  With no predators, they have increased in number and have rapidly eaten all the vegetation on the island.  It is amazing to see how little green stuff is left.  They have eaten all the grass and maybe three quarters of the trees.  Six years ago when we first came here, the cay was green; now it is just rocky, gray, and dead.  For us, it is sad to look at.  As the hutias run out of food, it will be sad for them as well.

Saturday night was Happy Hour on the beach at the Park HQ.  The other cruisers were an interesting group.  Among them was a young couple from Austria who sailed over from Turkey where the boat, which belongs to his father, had been in the charter service.  They were on their way to the US hoping to go as far north as New York before leaving the boat somewhere in the south for his father to pick up this fall after they return to work.  Bill loaned them some US cruising guides and gave them some others.  They gave us some Austrian sweets filled with chocolate and hazelnuts.  We plan to get the sweets back to Tennessee, but the temptation may be too great.

We left Warderick Wells and sailed south to Sampson Cay on April 29.  On previous trips we have been to Sampson Cay, but we have never taken a dinghy tour around the nearby islands that line Pipe Creek.  Over the next couple of days, we took two different tours; one up to the creek and another through the creek itself.  The water was gorgeous as were the small beaches.  On one beach I found seven conch shells.  Needless to say I was pleased.  Another day we had lunch at the Sampson Cay Club.  The restaurant had a new manager, Sonia, who did a great advertisement over VHF radio every morning.  In a voice that would do Hugh Hefner proud, she described the day’s offerings.  The food was as good as its description, and she was fun to be around.

On May 2 we motored over to Staniel Cay.  Bill bought gasoline and diesel at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club then tried without success to get a Batelco SIM data card for an old cell phone we had on board.

Early the next afternoon, the mailboat came to Staniel Cay with (among other things) food for the three grocery stores on the island.  Our plan was to have lunch at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club then walk to Isles General Store to buy our groceries.  Since this is the Bahamas and since nothing happens in a hurry, we spent the entire afternoon waiting for the groceries to be put on the shelves.  It gave us a chance to talk with other cruisers who came by, waited a while, talked a while, then giving up, left.  By 6pm when the store reopened only eight of us remained.  Patience had its rewards.  We got the first shot at the fresh food.

The next day a cold front passed over the Exumas.  We had a little rain and a whole lot of wind.  It blew 20-25 knots out of the northwest making our anchorage very rough.  We stayed on board all day Saturday just reading, knitting, and puttering about.  The wind was still howling on Sunday, but Captain Bill was restless, so we donned bathing suits and shirts and took a wet dinghy ride to the Yacht Club for lunch.  I watched several people dry off their chairs as they stood up to leave.  I was not the only person with a dripping wet behind.  The wind finally died down that evening.

It was time for us to have some clean clothes, so Black Point was our next stop.  The best coin laundry in the Bahamas is there run by a lovely lady, Ida.  I did the laundry while Bill walked around a bit.  It was Tuesday, and DeShamon’s Restaurant was having their weekly BBQ.  A couple from the Netherlands, Pim and Hanneke on Nelly Rose, shared a table with us.  We ate our fill of barbecued chicken and ribs, potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese, salad, and freshly baked carrot cake.  The rum punch washed all the delicious food down nicely.  The food was good and the company better.

It was now the second week in May.  Our time in the Bahamas was getting shorter.  Walking on deserted beaches looking for shells is my favorite thing to do here in the islands.  Bill and I decided to adopt the beach a day plan.  South of Black Point, there is not another settlement on the remaining ten miles of Great Guana Cay.  There is just one beach after another separated by rocky shores.  Perfect!

Let’s see, there’s Little Bay, Jack’s Bay Cove, Jack’s Bay, White Point, Hetty’s Land, Isaac Bay, Bay Rush Bay, and Kemps Bay all with undeveloped white sand beaches before you reach the end of Great Guana Cay.   We strung them together anchoring at Little Bay, Jack’s Bay Cove, Jack’s Bay, Bay Rush Bay, and Hetty’s Land.  By dinghy we visited White Point and Isaac Bay.  We also explored the rocky shores between the beaches ducking into a limestone cave and scouring among the rocks for cone shells.  In three different places we walked across the island to its other shore to watch the surf break on the windward side.  One day Bill took the dinghy to the next island south, Little Farmers Cay, to take Terry Bain a book and bring back two freshly made Jimmy Buffet recipe cheeseburgers with fries for lunch.
Two spots were especially memorable.  The beach at Jack’s Bay Cove was covered in shells.  I had onboard a sieve and trowel I have used to find shark’s teeth in North Carolina.  I scooped up a wine box full of unsorted small shells for a grandchildren’s crafts day that we will have when we get home.  The beach at Hetty’s Land was dotted with sand dollars.  We easily picked up over fifty white ones and did not even attempt to count the brown, live ones we left behind.

In the end we failed at the beach a day plan.  At several of the spots we stayed an extra day or two.

Over the next few days we will head north to the Abacos and spend some time there.  Then we will begin the trip back to the states.  As always, everything depends on the weather.

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