Goodbye to the Exumas
05 April 2014
After three fantastic weeks in the Exumas, it's time to say goodbye. We decided to go for quality not quantity so we didn't make it very far down the chain, but we feel that we were able to see some amazing islands and meet some wonderful people. After leaving Black Point we went over to Staniel Cay - pronounced "key" - (it's easy to tell the rookies when they mess it up) - to pick up Eric and Janna.
What a wonderful visit we had with them. We were blessed with amazing weather at the start of their week, and we took advantage of it by snorkeling some spectacular reefs. Thunderball Grotto and the Exuma Land and Sea Park provided some colorful reefs and varied aquatic life. Just to make sure that they had the full experience of cruising the Exumas we scheduled a cold front to come through later in their week. Fortunately, we were tucked into Warderick Wells and happy to be on one of their mooring balls. It's pretty tough to snorkel during the cold fronts so we had a nice hike through the park when the weather cleared a bit and then used the remaining part of the northerly wind to head south to Black Point.
Although we had already been to Black Point, we were excited to show it to Eric and Janna. It didn't hurt that this is the one place in the Exumas with decent wifi and some amazing happy hours. Just as the "happy hour turned dinner" was wrapping up, the DJ found out that Eric knows a bit about music so he showed off his system and opened up all the speakers. I think that they heard it in the anchorage. We obviously needed to stick around for a few songs and it quickly developed into a special Bahamian memory.
We moved back to Staniel Cay just in time to catch the James Bond Casino Night. Most of the cruisers and tourists were tipped off about this well in advance and were dressed for the occasion - the ladies were all decked out as "Bond Girls" and the lads had on their tuxes asking for martinis "shaken not stirred." We were obviously dressed up in finest, fresh T shirts and spent more time playing corn hole than craps.
We were sad to say goodbye to Eric and Janna, but we were glad that they made their flight. We arrived at 8:40 am for a 9:00 am flight, only to realize that there was actually a formal "check-in" at 8:15 am. Luckily, their seats hadn't been given away as we later found out happened to some others. Those poor fellows needed to charter a plane to get to Nassau. As it turned out Eric and Janna's flight was about 45 minutes late - right on time by Bahamas standards - so they were fine.
For the last few days we've been moving gradually north in preparation for crossing the Banks to Nassau. We only had one unfortunate incident where our anchor got stuck on a coral head and the anchor chain got wrapped around and underneath another large piece of coral - nothing that our friend Sandy - a Bahamian diver - couldn't fix in a jiffy. Otherwise, we've been on top of the weather and in some nice settled anchorages. We've tried to visit some of the Cays that we missed on the way down. Sampson, Cambridge, Hawksbill, and Shroud have been the favorites as they have provided amazing scenery and generally protected anchorages.
The only difficult aspect of cruising in the Exumas has been our inability to communicate with family and friends. Other than Black Point and a little bit of wifi at Warderick Wells we have basically been dark. We switched on our international roaming for our iPhones before we crossed to the Bahamas and it worked fine in Nassau. Once we got to the Exumas, it's been one continuous "no service" experience. We had better communication 14 years ago. Several of our cruising friends bought local phones. When they are close to a tower, they'll put their phone in a basket and raise it up the mast to send their email. We'll be joining them when we get to Nassau.