The Adventures of Alexandra and David

Who: David & Alexandra
Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
We're always Somewhere South of Somewhere.

The Banyan Love is Growing.

http://www.hitwebcounter.com/htmltutorial.php
WebPage Visits

We're on Facebook

Sailing Banyan

Instagram: #banyantravels

but we're not Tweeting.

Our friends Paul and Sheryl Shard, of Distant Shores, are incredible producers of their very own TV Show.

If you haven't already, check them out.

Their DVD's are informative and fun to watch as they travel to all four corners of the world.

You might even find Banyan in some of them!!
30 May 2019 | Catamaran Marina
20 May 2019 | Shallow Sandbar by Livingston, Guatemala
18 May 2019 | Tres Puntas, Guatemala
14 May 2019 | Isla Guanaja to Isla Utila
11 May 2019 | Grand Cayman to Isla de Guanaja, Honduras
03 May 2019 | Grand Cayman
25 April 2019 | Errol Flyn Marina, Port Antonio, Jamaica
18 April 2019 | Matthewtown, Great Inagua, Bahamas
14 April 2019 | Clarencetown, Long Island, Bahamas
10 April 2019 | To New Horizons... and Beyond!
05 April 2019 | Exumas, Bahamas
02 March 2019 | Staniel Cay, Cat Island, Bahamas
07 February 2019 | Cambridge Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
25 August 2018 | Halifax, NS
28 November 2017 | Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean
20 November 2017 | Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean

Banyan, Banyan...

07 February 2019 | Cambridge Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Alexandra & Dave, greeting new arrivals at Cambridge Cay, where we volunteered as Park Hosts
We just spent a month as Cambridge Cay Park Hosts. Read all about how "Banyan, Banyan..." was all the chatter on the radiowaves.

Cover Photo Credit : Michelle Torrie, SV Mahina

***

The first time we visited the Bahamas was in 2013, on our sailing journey southwards towards the Caribbean. We spent a total of six weeks here, which, given that there's over 1000 islands and cays here, didn't even scratch the surface, or dent the waves in sailspeak, of what the Bahamas has to offer. In fact, when we sometimes mention that we've been to the Bahamas, most people respond that they have as well, and how'd we like Nassau? But, oh, the Bahamas is SO much more...

When we returned from the Caribbean in 2016, we were on our way back to the States to give SV Banyan a minor refit, and again allowed for but a few weeks here. And once again breezed through this beautiful and magical place. These last few seasons however, have been all about the Bahamas, and one of our favourite areas is The Exumas.

The Exumas cover a very large area of well over 350 islands (called Cays), and one of the most magical spots is one of the 32 National Parks called the Exuma Land and Sea Park. Managed by the non-for-profit Bahamian National Trust the ECLSP in question is but a small area: 22 nautical miles long and 8 nautical miles wide. It is a piece of natural and magical beauty, as the beautiful and melodious voice of Cherry confirms every morning at 09:00 a.m., on VHF 16/09.



It is one of the largest protected marine preserves in the world and home to a wide array of marine life and endangered species, with some of the world's longest underwater caves and beautiful coral reefs. And the next time you're feasting on Grouper Fingers or Cracked Conch? Remember that approx 75% of the Nassau Grouper starts its life here, and think about size and saving the conch . And it is funded totally by donations and anchorage/mooring fees.

Each time we visit this place, we offer to volunteer some of our time. For example, one time we received a can of yellow spray paint and marked the various hiking trails. Next time we were graduated to machetes and hedge clippers and clearing trails. We would offer our time to do whatever it was that they needed help doing. We're Friends of the Park, an annual fee that in return provides us with two free mooring ball nights. However, this time we signed up to do something totally different. This time we were giving a month of our time to be Park Hosts at Cambridge Cay, located approximately 10 nm South of the the very famous Warderick Wells, depending how your boat draws or how the wind blows.

Unlike Warderick Wells, there is no Park Office here, and the area is not always managed by Park Hosts. When there are no Hosts, payments within the ECLSP are made at drop boxes found ashore and rely on Cruiser Honesty. In Cambrideg Cay, there are no reservations taken to be on a mooring ball. Those that have been here before will notice that the locations of the mooring balls have changed, with more balls planned to be added, and some big ball/small ball reorganization to happen.

The pennants/thimbles have all been inspected, secured and upgraded {{ and are now, yikes, extremely heavy duty. However, given some issues, that might be changing too!! }} ...



... and of course and as always, you can anchor in sandy spots on the South and West side and well clear of the mooring field area.

Of the 12 balls in the Cambridge Cay mooring field, two are designated for 100-150 foot vessels ONLY. The cost to be on a mooring ball is specific to boat size, $20 for less than 40 feet, $30 for less than 50 feet, etc... Historically ONLY boats over 90 feet paid to anchor ($1.00/foot/night) but for well over a year now, all boats are required to pay when anchored anywhere within the park, with those under 90 feet paying $0.50/foot/night.

So, we anticipated idyllic settings with beautiful days and splendid nights, and Mother Nature sure delivered, almost nightly.



We imagined we'd spend a little bit of time dinghying around from boat to boat collecting fees. We were looking forward to meeting cruisers from all wakes of water. We were planning on clearing some trails during our daily hikes. We were excited to speak from experience about the various swims and snorkels and hikes and kayaks we would get to do. And selfishly we were creating a list of boat chores that we would tackle during our month, 'cause you know... one month in one place!

When we arrived, we were the second boat in the mooring field. "Banyan, Banyan... " the VHF crackled to life, "this is the Park Warden on one six".

The Park has a new Warden, and you can read all about Brent Burrows II, here. He's as great in person as he is on paper and never seems to travel anywhere without the Bahamian Defence force. This time Joe and Nicola, Park Administrators, were with him as well. As they handed us our supplies,



they explained that over the last year the ECLSP implemented some changes and we were given a quick rundown of duties and new rules that needed to be enforced.

They pulled away, and within minutes of our receiving our name badges, paperwork, maps and receipt books, the action started.

"Banyan, Banyan..., I'm coming into Cambridge Cay requesting a mooring ball..." the VHF crackled to life.

We informed them it's a first come first serve and to pick any one of the small boat mooring balls and would they require assistance? Most said no at first, but when they tried lifting the new, very heavy duty thimbles, they couldn't, or dropped their hook, or broken their hook, and so they'd hail us back and could we help. Yes of course we would. Were they new to the Park? Yes, they were. Would they like some information? They sure would. So we'd scoot over, help them with their lines, make sure they knew how to properly tie up to a mooring ball, one line just won't do! We'd offer up maps and detailed information on what to see and do pending their likes, and reinforcing that this was a NO WAKE zone and the whole ECLSP a NO TAKE zone. And told them we'd be back in the late afternoon to collect their payment.



No sooner did we get back on-board and to whatever it was we were thinking of doing, the VHF would crackle to life. Again.

"Banyan, Banyan..."

Cruisers come here for two reasons: to enjoy the Park, or to hide from those nasty cold fronts. And in our month here, we had four nasty fronts! Needless to say we were kept busy. Combine that with some new rules that need enforcing, and yikes... we can't remember what we did in the minutes that tick-tocked into hours between sunrise and sunset.

Three new NoWake buoys at both entrances to Cambridge Cay giving ample warning to enforce the 5 nm/hr NO WAKE policy. This includes everyone and has a zero tolerance level, for both cruisers and The Warden. We yelled ourselves hoarse on the VHF trying to let the speeding tour boats know, but with the amount of people onboard those boats that sped by with music blaring, it's no wonder they don't hear a thing. And we didn't want to get too vocal either as no one wants their idyllic Cambridge Cay peace disrupted. We especially made sure the big yachts knew that this rule applied to their tenders and sea-doos, so that this place can become a safe haven for swimmers and kayakers and snorkelers (and wildlife!). We suggested a Sécurité message to be announced, which was quickly worded up by the Warden and released the next day. On some days, the Warden would arrive in the shiny new police boat, but you know how that goes? Never a speeding boat in sight when there's lights and sirens nearby, is there?

That's okay, there's no lack of work for The Warden and crew. If they don't have their lights and sirens at the ready, or going after poachers, they're driving by doing daily rounds, or fixing things, as in the case of this broken mooring ball.



However, the hardest new rule to enforce was trying to keep the two large mooring balls free for large yachts only. We preferred to let incoming boats know before they reached the ball so that they wouldn't get all settled and be told they had to leave. That's no fun for anyone. When hailing them didn't work {{ I'd like to take a survey to on just how many cruisers out here drive around without their VHF radio on? }}, we would then have to dinghy over and let them know, usually arriving just as they were getting ready to pick up the penant. {{ I'd like to take another survey on how many people can't see or read the big bold black letters that clearly say "100-150 feet in length?" }}

In previous times, when nearing sunset, if the big boat balls weren't being used, small boats could come in and grab one, and so it wasn't unusual for boats to arrive at sunset anticipating doing this. However, some incidents transpired that made it necessary to change the rules. In fact, upon arrival we queried this rule with the Park Warden as well. Sometimes cruisers {{ including us }} don't know, or see, the big picture, or hear the crazy stories, and we're not here to gossip either, but at the end of the day, the big picture is that two big boat mooring balls are assigned for big boats only. Period.

After a month here, we began to see why this new rule proved to make sense. The big boats, like everyone else are allowed to be here, and like everyone else, need a safe haven to come to. We had a few come in seeking shelter and comfortable waters during the various weather fronts. And if they're left unused they provide a secondary use. Should there be a boat in distress, it's nice to know we have a ball to put them on. We should know, it happened twice during our month here.

Damn that "Banyan, Banyan... " Because of the new rules we needed to enforce, we were on the receiving end of quite some name calling. That's OK, we did our best to explain the whys and wherefore's. We explained that the Warden could and would explain as well, would they like to talk to him? Besides, our skin is pretty thick. People do say interesting things when they don't get to do what they want, when they want, how they want.

Some were indignant and professing ignorance of the new (now one year old) rules. Some wanted something in return for paying us to anchor. {{ Um, you're not paying us? You're paying the BNT, and see the new mooring balls and pennants and things? }} Did we have a bag of ice in exchange for their anchoring fee? {{ Um, sure let me check that freezer in my dinghy? }} Or better yet, could they leave us with their garbage? {{ sigh }} This park is 22 miles long... how long have you been here to have THAT much garbage that you can't keep it on your boat for another few days or a week or two before you head out of the designated areas and into a garbage zone? It's not like you're living here for a year!

Or for one character, dumping 8 bags of personal garbage on the private island of Cambridge Cay, and then offering up an obscene gesture when seen and photographed doing it? I don't understand he people can think that beautiful Mother Nature is their dumping ground?

Some paid, some said they would, and didn't. Some wanted a free night because "they didn't know the rules". Ignorance sure is bliss, ain't it? I don't understand how in planning your trip, you plan to go somewhere end not know it's a Park? Or, come to a Park and think the rules don't apply to you? And don't think you'll prove a point by confronting us to let us know exactly what you think about this place and why it should be run in the world according to you. You're in another country, a visitor here, in a National protected park, and we're just volunteers. Respect.

"Banyan, Banyan..." the VHF would crackle awake, and cruisers would enquire as to the state of the tide, which cut to use to arrive or exit, and sometimes we found ourselves providing weather updates.

"Banyan, Banyan..." and an invite to sundowners was extended. Given the timings of our duties, we missed a few of these, but got to attend a couple of that turned into great evenings, despite being "on call".

"Banyan, Banyan..." Cruisers would stop by and excitedly tell us about visiting the various places we'd told them about. How wonderful to get that feedback, see the smiles and awe on their faces.

We were Park Hosts and we sure hosted! We hosted cruisers hiding from weather.



We hosted cruisers that had been coming here for many more moons than us, to cruisers that were new to cruising, and new to the Bahamas. We hosted cruisers here for a night sleep on their way somewhere, to cruisers that were needing a spot to crash while they dealt with boat issues. We hosted boats with flags from different compass points of the world (and being multilingual, I was especially pleased that I was able to converse with some in their own languages: Slovenian, a greeting in German but mostly French, very très cool).

Given the weather, we only hosted two very special Sundowners on Sandy Spit (ECLSP prefers we organize get togethers on Sandy Spit, and given the influx of noseeums at sunset on a beach, we wholeheartedly agree that that is indeed the place to be), and the Super Blood Moon Eclipse didn't get its own Dinghy Drift as we had hoped we could.





We were Park Hosts and here to help, and help we did. We helped one large Mega Yacht with their mooring lines. {{ you don't realize just how small you are in your dinghy until you have a 133 foot yacht coming at you }}. We helped boats whose mooring lines did weird things to their boat in the winds and current and bridle configurations. We helped rescue a couple and their dinghy when their outboard quit, and they were paddling against the current and getting swept away. We helped a boat arriving in some distress, in the darkness of night, during the high winds and chop and surge and current, and no radio on, get to a mooring ball.

Incoming boat in distress to the left, and the little light to the right? Is Dave in the dinghy.



{{ Let me tell you, it's not easy watching my loved one go save someone else's loved one, be it boat or person.}}

And... Turtles !



With more boats mooring and less boats anchoring, the seabed is starting to bloom with turtle grass, and the turtles are back. There were no less than half a dozen to a dozen turtles around our boat. There were Remoras under our boat, visible signs of barracudas, even a lemon shark was spotted among the many nurse sharks. Every single day. In the special colours of dusk you might be lucky enough to see a ray jumping out of the water. The sergeant majors always overwhelm visitors when they jump into the Aquarium. Rocky Dundas Caves. Drift dives. HoneyMoon Beach.

Oh and Bell Rock,



have you clambered to the top? The Warden has, with the obligatory selfie up there to prove it, and please do so at low tide and your own risk!

Or, be like us and hike the Bluff Trail where it wasn't the first time that we almost lost our hats,



in all those crazy days of crazy winds, and rainstorms that ended in rainbows.



In exchange for our daily duties, we got a free month's stay here in Cambridge Cay, a couple runs to Staniel for provisions {{ that included a Hat Overboard and Successful Rescue }}, and some gasoline for our dinghy. We weathered a cold front a week, which made for hectic response to callings of "Banyan, Banyan...".

We cleared some paths



and along with other cruisers volunteering their time, bagged some garbage,



as the Park Warden has promised a barge is on its way to haul it away.

And before we knew it, our month in idyllic settings in beautiful and not so beautiful days was up. By the time the days were done we were talked out and exhausted, didn't get to do much {{ read, none! }} of our listed boat chores, and fell into bed way before cruisers midnight, too chatted out to even talk to each other.

This isn't just another place to anchor/moor, it is SO much more than that. This is a place that needs to be protected. It needs volunteers and can use all the donations it gets. It needs people to come and visit and contribute by paying a modest fee for the couple of nights here anchoring and/or mooring. It needs to be protected from the environment, from poachers {{ and ultimately maybe even from ourselves }}.

We entered this month excited to be Cambridge Cay Volunteer Hosts, and we left a month later, just as excited that we had been Cambridge Cay Volunteer Hosts. We came in with eyes wide closed. And left with hands full of boat cards, minds full of stories, eyes twinkling like stars in the pitch black skies, smiles that are as wide as the experiences we've had, and hearts full of memories. Of a very wondrous and magical place that is Cambridge Cay, Exuma, Bahamas.

Cambridge Cay is stunningly amazing. Why not come see for yourself?



***

If you haven't yet followed along, please check our Sailing Banyan Facebook Page for many more captions and photos of our Adventures.
Comments
Vessel Name: Banyan
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 40 Sun Odyssey
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: David & Alexandra
About:
Welcome Aboard. I'm Alexandra, and if I'm not out Adventuring with Camera in Hand, or cheffing up a storm in my galley, I'm looking to pirate some WiFi to upload our latest tales (with way too many photos) about our most recent adventures. [...]
Extra: CHART YOUR COURSE: Our destiny is shaped by our thoughts and actions. We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.
Social:
Banyan's Photos - Main
Photos 1 to 117 of 117
1
 
1
52 Photos
Created 30 May 2020
26 Photos
Created 27 May 2020
27 Photos
Created 9 June 2019
31 Photos
Created 3 June 2019
25 Photos
Created 26 May 2019
24 Photos
Created 24 May 2019
38 Photos
Created 24 May 2019
20 Photos
Created 3 May 2019
15 Photos
Created 25 April 2019
50 Photos
Created 10 April 2019
23 Photos
Created 5 April 2019
21 Photos
Created 2 March 2019
17 Photos
Created 7 February 2019
41 Photos
Created 25 August 2018
23 Photos
Created 28 January 2018
72 Photos
Created 4 January 2018
26 Photos
Created 20 October 2017
27 Photos
Created 1 September 2017
No Photos
Created 29 June 2017
94 Photos
Created 9 June 2017
1 Photo
Created 15 May 2017
41 Photos
Created 4 March 2017
36 Photos
Created 3 February 2017
32 Photos
Created 27 January 2017
21 Photos
Created 9 January 2017
51 Photos
Created 27 November 2016
13 Photos
Created 24 October 2016
54 Photos
Created 6 June 2016
122 Photos
Created 26 February 2016
192 Photos
Created 4 February 2016
80 Photos
Created 6 January 2016
14 Photos
Created 16 December 2015
15 Photos
Created 5 November 2015
135 Photos
Created 6 October 2015
3 Photos
Created 6 October 2015
154 Photos
Created 17 September 2015
55 Photos
Created 28 June 2015
39 Photos
Created 6 May 2015
118 Photos
Created 3 April 2015
23 Photos
Created 12 March 2015
87 Photos
Created 31 January 2015
114 Photos
Created 3 January 2015
55 Photos
Created 4 December 2014
103 Photos
Created 6 November 2014
84 Photos
Created 26 October 2014
114 Photos
Created 2 September 2014
55 Photos
Created 19 August 2014
49 Photos
Created 6 July 2014
107 Photos
Created 11 June 2014
104 Photos
Created 7 June 2014
88 Photos
Created 30 May 2014
120 Photos
Created 13 May 2014
106 Photos
Created 5 May 2014
100 Photos
Created 2 April 2014
75 Photos
Created 22 March 2014
127 Photos
Created 2 March 2014
24 Photos
Created 1 March 2014
26 Photos
Created 28 January 2014
110 Photos
Created 25 January 2014
107 Photos
Created 10 January 2014
106 Photos
Created 23 December 2013
117 Photos
Created 7 December 2013
93 Photos
Created 8 November 2013
39 Photos
Created 22 October 2013
117 Photos
Created 3 October 2013
65 Photos
Created 14 September 2013
31 Photos
Created 14 July 2013
96 Photos
Created 18 June 2013
100 Photos
Created 10 June 2013
104 Photos
Created 30 May 2013
115 Photos
Created 19 May 2013
98 Photos
Created 8 May 2013
10 Photos
Created 23 April 2013
106 Photos
Created 21 April 2013
12 Photos
Created 19 April 2013
31 Photos
Created 13 April 2013
114 Photos
Created 4 April 2013
107 Photos
Created 16 March 2013
99 Photos
Created 18 January 2013
57 Photos
Created 8 January 2013
120 Photos
Created 3 December 2012
125 Photos
Created 17 November 2012
44 Photos
Created 15 November 2012
77 Photos
Created 9 November 2012
98 Photos
Created 27 October 2012
123 Photos
Created 11 October 2012
119 Photos
Created 4 September 2012
38 Photos
Created 2 September 2012
No Photos
Created 2 September 2012
39 Photos
Created 27 August 2012
48 Photos
Created 16 August 2012
12 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
128 Photos
Created 1 August 2012
102 Photos
Created 16 May 2012
3 Photos
Created 29 January 2012
9 Photos
Created 25 July 2011
10 Photos
Created 19 July 2011
7 Photos
Created 7 July 2011
5 Photos
Created 7 July 2011
6 Photos
Created 24 June 2010
18 Photos
Created 18 February 2010
9 Photos
Created 27 September 2009
8 Photos
Created 24 September 2009
22 Photos
Created 7 September 2009
10 Photos
Created 31 August 2009
1 Photo | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 11 August 2009
Photos from the first ever sailing Regatta to raise money for Breast Cancer research
12 Photos
Created 12 July 2009
Photos from our cruise on Mahone Bay.
13 Photos
Created 9 July 2009
Our baby
7 Photos
Created 3 July 2009

The Adventures of Alexandra and David

Who: David & Alexandra
Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
We're always Somewhere South of Somewhere.

The Banyan Love is Growing.

http://www.hitwebcounter.com/htmltutorial.php
WebPage Visits

We're on Facebook

Sailing Banyan

Instagram: #banyantravels

but we're not Tweeting.

Our friends Paul and Sheryl Shard, of Distant Shores, are incredible producers of their very own TV Show.

If you haven't already, check them out.

Their DVD's are informative and fun to watch as they travel to all four corners of the world.

You might even find Banyan in some of them!!