March 17th 2013
Position N 24° 39.789’.
W 76° 63.294’.
Warderick Wells Cay, Bahamas
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Warderick Wells is the centre of the Exuma Park, an area set aside by the Bahamian government where no fishing of any kind or collection and removal of any fauna or flora is allowed. The idea is to provide a totally natural habitat and environment to allow the replenishment of life which will expand across the whole of the Bahamas.
The area is so beautiful, we couldn’t wait to lower the dinghy and begin our exploration of the islands. Soon we were off just riding to the extremities of the Cays to get the lie of the land. There are three mooring fields the north one which is where we are and there is a south one between Hog Cay and Warderick and a west one at Emerald Rock. The north one is the spectacular one (we think) and the one usually featured in any photographs. Its setting and the varied water colours are captivating. There are many trails to hike and we planned to do one tomorrow, meanwhile back to the boat for a relaxing evening, dinner on the aft deck and a gooood nights sleep.
The islands are made up from limestone and have extremely unique and rough rocky terrain; in fact I have never seen anything like it anywhere in the world. Hiking the trails was not easy and a good stout pair of shoes is a must together with a certain physical ability. Both of us just, only just, qualify with the later qualification. We were proud in the end that we completed one of the longer and steeper trails, the one that took us to the highest point on the island, Boo Boo Hill. At the top is a monument of sorts built by cruisers who have taken drift wood, washed up on the beaches, and have either carved or painted theirs and or their boats name and placed them in an ever growing pile. It was fun reading over the menagerie and being reminded of the nationalities that have visited this spot. We felt privileged to be amongst the few who have been here. Being the highest point on the Cay the view was outstanding, it is not so much the height that enables one to see farther, it is the height that enables one to look down at the vista and see the colours of the water and just the blatant beauty of this place.
After three days in this most tranquil of Shangri-La’s it is time to move on south, we took the dinghy for one final trip into the park rangers office, settled up with Andrew, bought a T-shirt each and that was it, we’ll be sad to leave...our next stop will be Big Majors at Staniel Cay just a short run of 18 NM.
Friday 8th March. Today is ours and ‘Partners’ one month anniversary, we left Sarasota, FL on the 8th February and we can hardly believe that we have travelled this distance in one month and have managed it in reasonable comfort in our little floating home. I think we have finally ‘got it’ that ‘Partners’ is our home and wherever she visits is where we live too! I think as cruiser we have taken on an additional quality, that of ambassador. We are very conscious of being ‘visitor’ in others countries. It is different than flying somewhere and knowing that you will be there for just a week or two on vacation and then will be flying back again to ones normal life. With us now we are visitors in someone else’s country for an extended time, we want people to like us and be helpful to us; of course this is not one way traffic so we have done what we can to ‘fit in’. We have made a point of exclaiming the beauty of the Bahamian islands (not hard to do) to the local people; we have taken time to talk to them. What a friendly bunch they are, always helpful, always happy! We find the lilt in their speech is also calming and they always make time for you.
Our first evening here the Admiral requested a night off from cooking and as this was the first civilization we have visited in a while we went ashore to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for drinks and then a short walk south along the winding road to a small restaurant overlooking the water where we had dinner. Lavinia had a wonderful grouper sandwich and I had a plate of huge coconut shrimp, twice the size of the ones in Outback! We met some locals and after a very leisurely dinner and conversations we walked back to the dinghy dock at the Yacht Club and proceeded to drag the dinghy down the beach back to the water, yes we landed at high tide and now had to work off diner with some exercise. The tides here are about 3’ and the beaches exaggerate the tide as they are steep. The next challenge was to find our way back the two miles or so to ‘Partners’ in the pitch black. Fortunately it is not the first time I have done this and when we came in I instinctively made a mental note of various things, headlands, and other anchored boats, where the shallow spots are and so on, we made it to HT’s amazement! What a great night…
After a peaceful night’s sleep, the holding in Big Major is excellent and we didn’t budge an inch, we started our first full day here with one of my full English breakfasts eaten al fresco. With not a cloud in the sky we planned to go ashore to Staniel Cay and do some grocery shopping, make a stop at the Batelco telephone office and explore the settlement. We managed to accomplish almost all but this was Saturday and the Batelco store was closed; weekends much more so are still observed here unlike the State. Our walk around town was interesting, the small modest homes by and large are well cared for and painted bright colours and there seems to be an unwritten code that no two shall be the same colour. Most people seem to live simply although every now and then one will see a large house, most of these are owned by foreigners we were told, they stick out as being rather ostentatious unfortunately and definitely do not fit into the general scheme of things. We saw it as a stark difference in culture, the large house typical of the ‘McMansions’ in the State where big is considered better and people tend to provide
Tom had owned ‘Cocoon’ a 42’ Kadey Krogen for 19 years before it caught fire while on the hard with them away back in their native Canada. The sad event halted their cruising lives for a year and a half before they were able to find ‘Cocoon Two’ their 48’ Kadey Krogen.
The Cays around Staniel and Big Major have some notoriety for being the sight of the James Bond movie Thunderball and there is the famous Thunderball Grotto just a two minute dinghy ride from where we are anchored, a must do excursion…
More from Georgetown, Exumas…