Exuma Park: Whale Skeletons, British Weather and Atlantis
29 December 2011 | Warderick Well's Cay, Exuma's, Bahamas
Elliott and Brendan inside the skeleton of a sperm whale
Thursday 29 December 2011
We have just arrived at the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
Here are some notes I made last night:
Brendan is on deck wearing a miner's headtorch. He is on anchor watch!
We narrowly escaped disaster just earlier: the anchor buoy and anchor buoy rope wrapped themselves around the rudder. This happened because of the tide changing. At that point Queenie (and all other boats) swing around and everything else swings too.
Queenie somehow moved herself on top of the anchor buoy line...
Brendan is now using his miner's headtorch to signal to the stars overhead and he gives them a little wave. Then he gets busy pegging out all the wet clothing on the guard rail. He has decided that he loves this job so much, that from now on he will deal with all the wet laundry at home as well!(He is going to regret that!!!)
Ulric has appointed Quinn to be 'on Brendan watch', so he is on deck as well. Life aboard is different from London Life...
Blog continued on Thursday.
At about 9pm last night Ulric was diving (into the freezing waters) in complete darkness... to hunt for the anchor ball. Quinn was in the dinghy shining torches - to little effect. We may want to invest in a decent under water torch for future reference.
All attempts failed so we agreed on a watch system for the night. Problem was that this rope, stuck and rigged the wrong way, could pull out the anchor and we might then find ourselves drifting on the nearest rock, or crashing into the nearest boat...
Quinn took first watch, 9 pm - midnight with the DS, coffee and a packet of crisps. At midnight I climbed out of my bunk and pulled on my leggings and anything warm I could find - but just then Quinn came down from deck and reported that the anchor ball had untangled itself and reappeared (rather miraculously!) on the correct (safe) side of the boat. RESULT! So I never had to do my midnight - 3am watch, quite a relief. What a competent and cool 11 year old we have!
This morning all was well with anchor balls and boys and monkeys and husband. The weather was not so great: overcast, cold, rain. I said to Ulric: 'If I didn't know better I'd think we were on our way to the Isle of Wight...'
We have picked up mooring ball nr 10 and we will go see the Park Rangers after lunch. Lunch is guacamole, lettuce and carrot wraps, courtesy of Dad.
The boys now did a trip to the park rangers' office and beach. They tell me that there is a little museum there. It features the 52 foot skeleton of a sperm whale. He died in 1995 because of eating plastic carrier bags that he took for jellyfish. There was another skeleton that belonged to a pilot whale called Stinky. He was stranded, along with three other whales, at Norman Cay...
Brendan is deep in his book about OCEANS that he got for Christmas .... He tells me that dolphins sometimes play with plastic carrier bags.... A dangerous came, clearly....
This too is part of Project Song of the Whale: learning how whales die because of rubbish dumped by human beings...
The boat moored closest to the beach is called LIFE IS SHORT. Ulric liked the name but misquoted it as 'Life Is TOO Short'. Elliott set him straight and said: SHORT or TOO SHORT - there IS A DIFFERENCE DAD!!! A world of difference (and wisdom) indeed!
Four of us just made another outing ashore. Quinn stayed on board with the hand held VHF, in charge of the boat. When it was time to return, he switched on the mast lighting to pilot us home!
The little beach was deserted as the sun prepared to drop below the horizon. The boys showed me the skeleton of the sperm whale, mounted on the beach. Brendan showed me his Sand City.
Ulric showed me the walking trail to BOO BOO HILL. The story is that a ship was wrecked here and everyone on board perished. Lore says that they were shipwrecked here, surrounded by water but with not a drop of drink (rain and fresh water being a scarse commodity here). On nights where there is a full moon apparently you can hear the souls of those wretched people crying and howling for help and water. Hence the name Boo Boo Hill... (Sounds like "someone" needs to do some psycho pomp work around here!)
Elliott and I used two conch shells as walking stones and drew a lemniscate on the beach. Then we walked it - but he kept overtaking me. I am sure there is some kind of symbolism in that!
Brendan was concerned about his Sand City: would high tide sweep it all away? 'No, Brendan!', says big brother Elliott: 'The tide will come and it will be an underwater city LIKE ATLANTIS!' Brendan is at peace with that...
Brendan is pegging out wet laundry once again. Ulric offers him a headtorch. We just had a glimpse of the moon. She waved at us before hiding again behind a dark cloud. New Moon still, first quarter, so no ghosts howling nearby. The stars are appearing one by one as I am typing these words.
Big fishes are circling the boat and Ulric saw a lot of stingrays earlier, near the floating dive pontoon. The water is so clear, the wildlife so abundant.... This is how all water on earth should be, far from pollution and overfishing... magic and life-enhancing...
The park rangers have two kayaks available: you can borrow them free of charge. Elliott has just invited Quinn to go kayaking with him first thing tomorrow morning. Dad can follow in the dinghy and supervise. I am going to beg Dad to stay here for another night, - or at least another morning! - it is the closest to Paradise we got on our Cruise in the Bahamas. I have changed my mind, it is nothing like the Isle of Wight, it is much closer to.... Atlantis!