Work and Play in the Park
28 January 2011 | Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park
Beth / 70's and breezy
It is 7 o'clock ion Friday evening. We are sitting in Madcap's cozy cabin with beeswax candles burning on the table, Murray McLauchlan on the stereo, and a pan of vegetables and sausage roasting in the oven. Jim is reading; I am writing. We could almost be in Nova Scotia! Oops - no. Not with what we've been doing in our daylight hours.
The Exuma Land and Sea Park has varied opportunities for volunteering, and we hadn't taken part in the program before. We were a little worried that it wasn't happening any more after chatting with friends, but when we asked, Darcy said it all depends on whether there is a staff member available to assign tasks and supervise ... and the mooring balls needed cleaning. "Would you like to do that?" "Sure!"
We signed the paper absolving the park of any liability if we hurt ourselves, and promised to show up on Thursday. Unfortunately, Darcy didn't mention that the volunteer day starts at 9 am, so when we showed up at 10, she looked over her glasses at us and then looked at the clock and said, "You were supposed to be here at 9!" Oops! Talk about feeling like truant children. We begged both ignorance and forgiveness and said we'd work extra hard.
With brushes in hand, we headed out to prove ourselves worthy of the task, and set to work cleaning the yuck and guck and growth off the balls. It was a two person job - one to hold onto the line and help pull it up so the underside is exposed, and one to scrub. It was a good day for it - many boats left in the morning so the balls were empty and available, and the sky was overcast so we didn't burn up in the sun. We took turns at it, and over the course of the day cleaned over 30 balls. By 4 o'clock, our hands were tinged with greenish orange, our shoulders felt they'd had a workout and we had bits of greenery all over our shirts. But we were proud!
Pasta tossed with pesto and cheese, salad (made with the last piece of romaine lettuce and the last half of a green pepper in the fridge) and a nice glass of red wine in the cockpit restored us to health.
The water was dead calm and although we could see lighting in the distance, we thought the possible squalls had passed us by entirely until around 10:30. At that time the skies opened up, the wind picked up and we rocked and rolled for the next few hours. At least the salt got all washed off the boat!
Over dinner on Thursday evening, we had both remarked that it seemed a shame to be leaving the next day without ever going snorkelling or hiking in this perfect place for both. We had planned to take advantage of the NW wind to go over to Eleuthera, but it didn't really take much convincing for us to change our minds on Friday morning. The N to NE winds forecast for Saturday should be fairly light so even if we didn't get a good sail, we wouldn't be heading into big seas.
I got the last few posts up on the website, we packed a backpack with water, granola bars, camera and sunscreen, hopped in the dinghy and headed for Beryl's Beach at the south end of the Emerald Rock Bay. After pulling the dinghy high up on the sand and anchoring it securely, we trekked up over the rugged iron rock and down again from one beach to another: Loyalist Beach, and Cockle Beach and Alive Beach and then Bush Basher Beach from where we crossed up and over the cay to the ocean side, coming down into the little grove called Pirate's Lair.
I always love this spot, where pirates came ashore after hiding their ships in the beautiful and secure little bay between Hog Cay and Warderick Wells Cay. Looking at the grove with its natural well of sweet water supplied by the freshwater lens under ground, and where non native plants grow from seeds dropped from the bedrolls of these storied seafarers, it is so easy to imagine the raucous gatherings that must have been held here.
Just a few steps further and we broke out into the sunshine and powdery sand of Capture Beach where we sat to eat a snack and watch a boat come through the narrow passage to the mooring field. Not a skull and crossbones in sight, although I did find this pirate lolling about in a swing improvised from fishing net and sturdy line!
We walked north along the ocean side of the cay, marvelling at the dozens of shades of green and azure and teal and turquoise of the water, and the rugged terrain underfoot. After spotting the old stone wall, still standing from Loyalist Days, we followed it back across to Beryl's Beach and home again.
The boat was rocking and rolling in the swells from the NW wind, so we downed a quick lunch and set off again - this time in bathing suits and snorkelling gear. The air was chilly but the water warmer, and the water was calmer over by Radar Rock. Jim saw a couple of beautiful spotted Eagle Rays, and there was the usual collection of gorgeous coloured fish and interesting coral. We spotted parrot fish and trigger fish, shy little lavender ones that seemed to be rubbing their noses against the sand, wrasses and snappers, and a huge nassau grouper sitting absolutely still under a coral overhang. One of these days we are going to have to get wet suits, because we were content for about half an hour before we had to crawl out and wrap ourselves in towels.
So here we are back to where I started this post - at the end of a totally happy couple of days. Tomorrow we leave. Off to Rock Sound, Eleuthera ... I think ....