Deep Blue Water
03 May 2017 | Waderick Wells Exuma Land and Sea Park
We pulled ourselves away from Big Majors spot this morning quite reluctantly and headed toward Warderick Wells. We really enjoyed our time here. The anchorage has great holding, wonderful beaches, cell phone coverage and the marina is within dingy distance. Water, fuel and a good meal all close by, in a beautiful setting what is not to like? If hurricane season wasn't fast approaching I think we might put roots down here for a couple of months.
The original plan was to stop at Bell Island on the way up and spend a couple of nights there exploring the Cambridge and O'Brien cay area. We were contemplating Cambridge's mooring field but there is one spot only a 100 ft wide with 7 ft depth between two rocks. Rethought that to the Bell Island anchorage which was between Cambridge and O'Brien. We had planned two nights there moving Friday to Warderick Wells North mooring field.
That all changed when we listened to Chris Parker and checked out the weather sites. There is a front coming through Friday night with winds clocking to out of the west. There are very few places you can hide out from a west wind in the Exumas. The Captain was concerned if we waited until Friday to try and get a mooring there might not be one available. The most you can request a mooring is one day before your arrival and then you get put on the list. So we changed plans and decided to come directly to Warderick Wells. At 0900 every morning the requests for moorings is announced on VHF channel 9 by the park office. Before we pulled anchor we got on the radio and verified that we could get a mooring today.
At 9:40 we pulled up stakes and headed out onto the banks. There had been rain showers overnight and the sky was pretty cloudy. Winds were about 10 knots out of the north east, not the southerlies that had been predicted. The seas were pretty calm and our angle was such that we could sail. The further north we got the grayer and more ominous the sky became. About 2 hours into our journey it started to rain and the winds picked up. We adjusted the sails and were fine picking up a bit in speed. The rain was pretty light and gave the sails a bit of a wash.
We reviewed our course for getting into the mooring area as we headed east up Waderick cut. When we were about a mile out we hailed the park office to get our mooring assignment. The ranger told us we would be on mooring 11 and asked if we had been there before. We told her no and she said "Okay when you come in past the first four mooring balls stay in the "DARK BLUE" water. Mooring numbers increase as you come toward the park headquarters. " Easy peasy right, ha! Major pucker factor your first time in here for sure. The fairway is narrow and the moored boats are obstacles to avoid while staying in the blue water. Holy Cow. The land, rocks and shallow (NOT BLUE) water are only feet, in the single digit feet, away from the "DARK BLUE WATER". We counted the mooring balls 5,6,7, 8, 9 (occupied by a huge cat), around a bend to 10 and at last 11.
I was on the bow boat hook in hand oooph, missed it Son of a Pup! We slid by, now having to turn around and stay in the DARK BLUE WATER. With just enough turning radius we managed to get turned and armed with my trusty boat hook made another approach. SOB we missed it again! Scott maneuvered us into position yet again and third time was the charm. I managed to snag the pennant, the very short pennant. Scott rushed forward to help hold on to the blasted thing while I got a line through the eye and secured it to the cleat. Phew we were attached !
The current in here is not to be toyed with and was wrecking havoc on our mooring attempts. In such a narrow cut it races through the mooring field. We had arrived at almost high tide, if that is slack tide I can't imagine trying to pick it up at mid.
We got ourselves properly secured and deployed the dingy to go into the park office and pay our fees. The little office has a collection of books, DVDs (for rent), T Shirts, souvenirs and park information. We registered, paid our fees and got maps of the parks hiking and snorkeling sites. I am excited about the hikes, especially Boo Boo hill, where we hope to leave a memento of our visit. (A cruisers tradition). There was another couple waiting to register and the office closed at 4:00 so we paid our fees and headed back to the boat.
On our way back we passed a boat named Destiny whose hailing port was Rochester NY. Well of course we had to stop and introduce ourselves. Bill and Alicia have been sailing for a number of years and were back in the Bahamas after having done the Caribbean islands. We talked for about 20 minutes and exchanged boat cards. Small world or what.
Back at the boat we had a chance to assess our surroundings. It is unbelievably gorgeous here. There are beaches to walk, snorkeling sites galore and the water is clear as gin. We have 16 feet of water under the keel and are within a hundred feet of shore, less when we swing. After getting the boat settled we both opted for a quick swim. The current kept us within a lines grab of the boat. You could easily be swept out into the sound here in minutes. After a refreshing dip and some reading it was time to make dinner and enjoy a cold adult beverage.
I took the picture the next day when we climbed Boo Boo Hill. Light Reach is partially hidden by the island between the two cats in the center of the picture. You can see the blue water banded by sand in the foreground and light blue to clear water in the back. The entrance to the mooring field is to the right. The picture was taken facing north. Stay in the blue water Mon!