In and Out of the Water
12 February 2008 | Warderick Wells
We've spent our time both in the beautiful water and on the rugged land in these last few days. We've gazed at fish and sea creatures and coral, and birds and lizards and trees.
I had one of those peak moments this week - the kind that we can remember forever in living colour and say "Ahh, that was just perfect!" We joined up with Sandi and Steve and Mike (Kathy would rather be ON the water than IN it) and went snorkeling up past the North Anchorage - on Kathleen's Reef near Turnabout Beach. The snorkeling there was short lived because the current was just too strong to be comfortable - we misjudged the slack tide - so we swam back to the gorgeous little beach and just sat in the water or floated around and chatted. The beach was tiny and crescent shaped, ringed with layers of limestone/coral rock with a few palmettos ringing the top. The sand was white and soft, and the colour of the water was that brilliant, transparent aqua that we see so much of here. It looked just like pools try to look. Inside the curve of rock, there was no current. The water was so salty that it was easy to float around in it without effort. The sun was hot enough to make the water feel delightful. The conversation - as always in this group - was interesting and lively.
I think what added up to "perfect moment" was the fact that all my senses were engaged, both body and brain were working, and I was in a place of exquisite beauty.
(I used the pronoun "I" in this bit because peak moments are personal, and we each have our own. This one was my particular one, although I expect we'd all say we had an enjoyable time!)
We dinghied next across the bay to another reef, and snorkeled slowly along the coral heads there. Jim and I missed seeing a largish shark - maybe that's a good thing. We spotted a nurse shark (harmless) before we went in and we figure the feeding must have been good there. Three of the group saw the big one cruise by them and according to Mike, they all popped their heads out of the water and said, "Did you see that?" and kept their eyes scanning around from then on. Fortunately he was not paying any attention to them.
In the afternoon, we all went hiking the trails from the Headquarters across to the Sound side, along the beach and up to Boo Boo Hill and the blow holes. Boo Boo Hill has gathered a reputation as a spot where cruisers place signs made of driftwood with their boat names carved or painted on. We had fun spotting those left by friends. It is also a spot that some say is haunted by spirits of boaters lost on the reefs, although the singing may well be an imaginative hearing of the wind through the blow holes. These are holes in the rock where the wind rushes up from below as the waves crash in. Jim and I will try to go back there when the wind is up to experience a more dramatic demonstration.
We paused to watch several good sized rays float just off the bottom as we passed over a small bridge. They are so graceful. We've seen a turtle nestling just under a ledge, and the usual astounding array of colourful fish darting about.
Among the birds we've seen are the Bahamian mockingbird - a little browner than the ones we've seen elsewhere, and beautiful little bananaquits. We spotted a brownish, sparrow type bird with bright yellow patches on its tail - I need to look that one up. Curly tailed lizards and ones with long blue tails scurry out of the way as we pass, or come looking for food when we are picnicking! There are lots of signs describing the plant life and how it is adapted to this dry salty environment. It is a very fine thing to have this park with its emphasis on letting nature take its course.
We reached our dinghies just as some heavy raindrops were starting to fall and made a rush back to close the hatches. We usually close them before we leave - but not that time, wouldn't you know? We were lucky because it was a flash shower and was over before we got back to Madcap.
Monday the water was a little rough so we kept our dinghying to the southern end of the Cay - beaching it on Rendezvous Beach and hiking up to the point overlooking the Emerald Rock anchorage, and then along several trails to end up over on the Exuma Sound side of the cay. There, we were able to really feel the difference a hill makes. While we were quite comfortable in the lee of the cay, the wind was howling on the opposite side and we could feel the salt spray while we were 300 meters away from the shoreline. It was awesome, and we were sure grateful to be snugly tucked away - also grateful that there is such good weather forecasting. We knew this front was coming a full 5 days ahead so we could easily plan to be in a safe spot for it.
Our mooring in close to shore at Emerald Rock was better protected in this particular wind direction (N) than the anchorage up by the Park Headquarters, and was certainly better than the moorings farther out. We chatted a couple of times with Princess and we were noticing wind speeds 5 - 8 knots lower than they were. That hill blocked off most of it.
The wind grew stronger and shifted eastward overnight, and while we could hear it howling and we moved around some, we weren't uncomfortable. Still no rain to speak of so our water tank didn't get replenished.
It looks like we are here for another day or two so we'll do some more exploration on Tuesday and Wednesday.