02/06/2008, Hawksbill Cay
[s] [d] 2/6/08 [t] Loyalist Ruins [l] Hawksville Cay [a] Mike [b] This morning we moved to Hawksville Cay, the next island south in the Exuma chain. Although it is uninhabited, there are ruins of a Loyalists home from 1880. The ruins are just that. Vegetation has taken over everywhere, but there are some old foundations and stone walls. There is a kiln where they burned conch shells to produce lime for mortar which was interesting. There is still a pile on conch shells as well.
From the ruins we walked through the jungle to the eastern side of the island on a hiking trail. Since we're still in the park, trails are maintained quite well. The beaches on the east side where shaped in such a way that they collect junk. Most of the beaches here clean themselves with tides and wave action but here they were concave enough to hang on to any trash that happened by.
I may have mentioned this before but we are becoming acutely aware of problem of unrecycled plastic. Of the junk on these beaches, 95% is plastic and it doesn't go away, ever.
On our way back to the boat we visited a cave that was a bit of a let down. It was kind of like Alum Cave on a miniature scale. We also looked for some reefs for diving but didn't find any.
When we returned to Sapphire, Kathy called the Exuma Park Headquarters to put our names on a waiting list for a mooring. Our plans are to move south tomorrow to Wardwick Wells where the park headquarters is located. There are three mooring fields there so we're confident that we will get one. If we don't there is one place that we are allowed to anchor. It has been windy for the last two days and but tomorrow the forecast is for much lighter winds. so we are thinking at the place will clear out . Many cruisers spend a few days there volunteering on work details. We'll check it out.
We finally found a lobster.
02/05/2008, Shroud Cay
[s] [d] 2/5/08 [t] We finally found a lobster. [l] Shroud Cay [a] Mike [b] There was a little more wind today than normal so boat projects were in order. Jim and I ran a new antenna on Madcap to try to get their SSB to reach out a little further. We boat seem to be able to communicate with stations that are reasonably close but not with those some distance away.
On Sapphire, I finally got the courage to remove the packing nut and repack the packing gland. ( The packing gland is where the prop shaft exits the boat ) It is a miserable job on this boat but the out come was successful. We'll have to check it once and a while to make sure that I didn't over-tighten the nut.
Later Jim, Beth and I attempted to find some good areas for snorkeling . and were moderately successful. We found our first lobster. Unfortunately, our current position is within the Park boundaries so we had to leave him alone. We commiserated over wine and snacks while watching a very pleasant sunset. (no green flash)
Norman's to Shroud Cay
02/05/2008, Shroud Cay
[s] [d] 2/4/08 [t] Norman's Cay to Shroud Cay [l] Shroud Cay [a] Mike [b] After a trip ashore to take some photos of the drug runner's airstrip on the south end of Norman's, we set sail for Shroud Cay which is within the Exmua Park so we won't hunting lobsters or fishing for awhile. The sail down was perfect again. On our way into the anchorage we really had to nose into the wind which was a challenge for Sapphire but we made it without tacking. or turning the engine. In the Park anchoring is frowned upon but there are usually adequate mooring balls for $20.
We spent most of the afternoon exploring the Cay; the highlight being a river trip. There is a river that cuts through the mangroves from the west side (the Banks where we're anchored) over to the Exuma Sound on the east. The trip across was against the current with constant maneuverings to avoid sand bars. The Sound side of the island was beautiful. Totally empty beaches as far as we could see in either direction. We climbed a hill to a place called "Driftwood Camp" for a very nice view of the area.
Our return trip was the highlight of the day . We floated with the current quietly checking out the bottom which varied from sand to grass and was usually about knee deep. We saw hundreds of conch, a shark, and the biggest Manta Ray that we've seen to date.. . easily a meter across.