28 December 2010
We left Allan's Cay for the modest hop of 30 or so miles to the Exuma Cay Land and Sea Park, more specifically, Wardrick Wells. This from their website, "Established in 1958, Exuma Park is one of 25 National Parks and Protected Areas managed by the Bahamas National Trust. Unique in the world, the Trust is believed to be the only non-profit, non-governmental agency mandated with management of a nationwide system of parks and protected areas. In 1986, The Bahamas National Trust established Exuma Park as a complete NO TAKE ZONE and marine protected area, the first in the wider Caribbean".
This place is unbelievably beautiful with every color of water imaginable. The main Island, Wardrick Wells, is very carefully managed notwithstanding the many many cruising boats which visit here each year. They are very careful about how this place is used and it has been worth the effort! Our good cruising friends Mike and Bonnie from Millennium Odyssey have contributed many hours over the years helping to build and maintain the infrastructure here - it has been worth the effort.
We arrive on Christmas Eve with warm balmy weather and are assigned a mooring in the north mooring field. It looks like a dark blue river meandering through a yellow ocean as we find our way to our designated mooring. There are about 18 boats (all sail boats) in this mooring field; there are two others, one at Emerald Rock just to our south and Hog Cay. The moorings are well maintained and we feel secure knowing that that there's a serious weather system coming.
So we wake up on Christmas day to a perfect Caribbean day; warm and clement. We take the short hike to "Boo Boo Hill" where cruisers typically inscribe their and their boat's name on drift wood and place it along with the many, many other weathered mementos of previous visits. Early in the afternoon, we all go snorkelling and see lots of reef fish in the gin clear waters.
There's a cruisers' pot luck at 2:00 and true to form, virtually all of the boaters turn up with many delectable dishes to accompany ham and turkey provided by the Park staff. We meet many fellow boaters and it's a special afternoon. We are invited to drinks at the "Bahamian Defence Force" which maintains a presence here. This is the approximate equivalent of the Bahamas navy and they patrol the park to watch for poachers, drug smugglers, refugees, etc. They are wonderful hosts and provide us with Rum Punch, tropical music (to which Judy and I dance) and great conversation. While we miss our family and friends but it's been a great day!
A strong cold front is coming on boxing and we're glad to be on a mooring well secured to the ocean floor. We wake up boxing day to reasonable weather but know that around noon the beginnings of the front will appear and the full force will follow the passage of the front. I tell Judy that around 2:00 pm it'll pass over us and at 1:45 it hits us. For the next day and a half we are pummelled with very strong winds. We cannot leave the boat and it's bouncing around on the mooring and the cacophony of the wind in the rigging is scary. I stay in the cockpit for part of the night with instruments on and on the qui vive to respond to the possibility of the mooring line breaking or other calamity. Winds peak at 35 knots then up to 40 through the night. The winds continue through the next day and we're prisoners of our boat which ain't so bad. Judy and Chopin watch 5 movies. I stay in the cockpit and read two books on Kindle. Every boat in the mooring field is bouncing and lurching around. I check our mooring lines about every hour and at one time discover that one of our three lines has parted (broken). I go forward with life jacket while Judy eases the boat forward under motor to replace this line. All in all, it's a hairy day and a half and a poignant contrast to the peace and serenity we had here on Christmas day. But, it's only a day in the life of the cruiser.
Finally yesterday around sunset the wind subsides and I hit the bunk early and sleep like a log, probably not having slept much the night before. We get up this morning (Tuesday) to moderate winds but cold temperatures. The boat's no longer straining at her mooring lines and the shrieking of the wind in the rigging has abated. I do some boat chores and visit Audacious. We decide to spend some time on the beach today as we all need shore leave. Judy and I take poor Chopin to the beach and he's glad to get off that lurching hellship Sea Sharp for at least a while. We to go to the beach for the afternoon where Judy gives Georgina a beach pedicure, Jacquie gives me a long overdue haircut and Roger fabricates a sign for us to leave on Boo Boo Hill. We meet various other cruisers and have a restful afternoon after the tumult we endures over the last 36 hours.
It's amazing how quickly the fear through the storm fades into the beauty and peace of this wonderful place once it's over.
So, we plan on heading out tomorrow; probably for Staniel Cay, about 20 miles south, where there are lots of festivities for the holidays. On the way we will pass Johnny Depp's and the Aga Khan IV's private islands. There's interesting news articles about the Aga Khan's dredging and development of his island without having obtained the proper permits. We understand on the other hand that Johnny Depp has been very responsible and modest about the development of his island.
So, it's been an amazing four days here; calm, serene, boisterous and downright scary, but we're doing fine and not shovelling the acres of snow that we understand has befallen our families home in NB.
By the way the website where you can get our current location as we proceed is http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0yR6laDhTYKeQB8vFPUhuEHHFHAytAUoz
Also, we cannot post pictures for the time being but promise to load some as soon as we get better internet.
Happy Holidays to all.