Blow Holes, BooBoo, Bananaquits
warm, nice weather
03/13/2009, Warderick Wells, Exumas Land and Sea Park
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wow - another Friday the 13th already?!?! After coffee and sitting around enjoying the view, we had an egg salad sandwich and decided to take a land trail through the park. It's very nicely laid out with signs along the way talking about the vegetation and mangrove swamps and natural nurseries here. We visited the blowholes and Boo Boo Hill then went to the park office to browse and feed the bananaquits. We're allowed to feed them up at the office and the little guys know right where to go to get the sugar too! As I reached up for the canisters they swarmed me. I'd say they hadn't had any sugar today... It reminded me of St. John's when we used to go camping there and would leave coconut husks hanging around camp with sugar and sugar water for them.
The blowholes are holes through the rocky cliffs where the water pushes up the air and water through the holes from the sea cuts below, making eerie sounds as it does so. Not far from here is Boo Boo Hill. Boo Boo Hill is where the souls of missionaries that were shipwrecked are said to be heard on full moon nights. It's the highest point on Warderick Wells where a headless human skeleton was found. Now boats leave driftwood pieces with their names on it at the top of the hill to ensure good weather for their passages. Wouldn't you know we didn't leave any? I hope this doesn't mean that the lost souls will follow us. As we descended from the hill it started sprinkling. It felt good though because the walk up was a bit hot.
Back at the boat, I noticed that Aeolus's dinghy was still gone. When I saw their dinghy back at the boat, I tried hailing them on the VHF to see if they'd like to come over, but I don't think they had their radio on. I know ours was turned off until I thought about calling them. We made up some pork chops for dinner and I started posting my blogs from the end of February until yesterday. Even though I have already typed them up on my computer it seems to take a while to load the days and pictures into the blog. I tried to use skype today too but had issues with the microphone and the speed of the Internet isn't too good either. I'll try emailing tomorrow.
The Land and Sea Park
03/12/2009, Norman’s Cay (24o36.090N, 76o49.505W) to Warderick Wells (24o23.665N, 76o37.954W)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
After coffee we waited for the Exuma Park Office to come on the air at 9am to see if we had a mooring or not. They come on the VHF (channel 9) to see which boats are vacating and which boats have intentions of coming into the park for the day. They'll take calls up to one day in advance but then you need to call back on the day to see if they have a spot for you. We heard back from them about 9:40 and raised anchor about 10:00am. I must say it was easier threading our way back out of Normans Cay at high tide than it was threading our way in at low tide. I'll take 10 feet over 6.5 feet - it definitely gives you some breathing room.
On the way out Sea Witch hailed us to see if we could relay a mooring request for them. Exuma couldn't hear them so we called and reserved a spot for them this evening after getting out into the 13 ft depths and before we got to far away from the Norman anchorage. It was a beautiful sailing day! The winds were NE to E at 15-20 with moderate NE swells and we were moving about from 5-6.5 knots the entire time. It seemed a shame to end it so quickly at 2pm as we approached Warderick Wells. I was apprehensive coming in. Looking at the charts and listening to Judy give instructions on the narrow, deep channel (that sports a strong current) to follow in to the mooring assignment left me a little queasy - especially rounding the corner and seeing boats surrounded by sand. But once we got into the channel and through the green and red markers the aqua water was visible and we had no problem getting attached to the mooring (other than my wanting to take pictures of the whale skeleton, the sand bars, islands, etc...).
It is sooo pretty here - Unbelievably so. The water is so aqua, transparent and clear with white sand bars cropping up. The small islets splashed in colors of white (sand) yellow (limestone) with greens and browns (vegetation and trees) surrounding us. As I was taking it all in, Aeolus hailed us and invited us over for a beer after we checked in.
The park office is a moderate climb up from the water. The dinghy dock rises above you out of the water at low tide so you need to climb up its wood side to get to the office. The office has a book exchange, maps, shirts, cup holders and all sorts of shells and artifacts for you to look at. I probably could have ogled all the shells and items for another hour but they close at 4pm and we got there at 3:40 so that will have to wait for another day. I think Judy is trapped there all day and felt I should let her get home. I wouldn't mind working here though - there's just something about National Parks that I just adore.
After checking in (and taking more pictures) we headed over to Aeolus and hung out there chatting with them. They're continuing southward while we will head homeward for the summer. It was kind of nice to hear that they also would like to drive up to Alaska. That's something I haven't thought about since we got Kolibrie, but now it's back in my head again. What the heck, why not? It'd be funny if one day we ran into them in Alaska. I think they're heading to Georgetown a couple of days before us but it would be nice to run into them there.
Back at the boat I made a chicken salad and salad for dinner. The bananaquits discovered us while we were sitting up top. I love those little birds. I brought out a little sugar and then discovered that this is a no-no in the park so put it away. I feel guilty for bringing it out and then giving them some, and guilty for putting it away and not feeding the little guys at the same time They keep chirping at me to feed them - I will not give in...
Drug Lords and Crashed Planes
03/11/2009, Norman’s Island anchorage (24o36.090N, 76o49.505W)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Well at 7:15am Spirit and the other 3 boats left the anchorage. I waved at them while taking pictures of the sunrise, moonset and yelled over that we hope to see them in Georgetown. The moonset took place behind clouds so I didn't get it sinking below the horizon.
After coffee and cereal we dinghied over to the other side of the island to explore and look for the crashed plane and the old drug lord's house/compound. While walking the beach Aeolus (Ken and Cheryl) landed in their dinghy at the beach so we explored the area with them. At one time in the late 70s, early 80s, Norman's Cay was under the control of a drug lord - Carlos Lehder - who had a profitable cocaine smuggling operation located on the island. The only reminders now are quite a few bullet holes in the buildings and a crashed airplane that lays in the middle anchorage. Needless to say, Wayne needed to see the drug lords abode and the bullet holes and we had to follow several dead-end paths that led to other ruins and an old dump, but we finally found the place with its bullet hole ridden walls. It looked like it was quite a beautiful place in it's day and the view from the place was spectacular. It looked out over the pond (the North Harbor) where the crashed plane was. Ken said that when they were chased out of here the only things they took were their clothes, money and jewels. When they left, they left everything else, food, stores, furniture, etc... it was like they'd left for the day or week only never returned.
There's a place called the Dead Head Wall in about 70 ft of water named after a fan whose VW lies on the reef. To deep for us to see but I suppose if you're a diver and a Grateful Dead fan - it might be worth a look?
After our hike on land we jumped into the water then dinghied over to the plane wreck. There's not much left of it but the fuselage is still visible at low tide and the wings are still visible under the water. I remember hearing someone on the radio say it was a DC 3?
From there we came back over to the west side and walked over to the airstrip. We'd watched a couple of small planes take off from there today and saw one plane come in.
Back at the boat, Wayne read a little and took a nap and I plugged in a course to Warderwick Wells where the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Headquarters is located. We radioed this morning and requested a mooring for there tomorrow. They take requests at 9 am the day before and had trouble hearing us so another boat relayed our info to them for tomorrow. At 9 am tomorrow, hopefully they'll be able to hear us? You're supposed to call in your intention of who's coming and who's going each morning so they know who to assign which moorings to by your size and draft.
Cooked up some of my frozen salmon in a butter, garlic and lime sauté and made a sauce for it with tartar, dill and sour cream. Served up with green beans - it was tasty. A definite repeater recipe.