Friday, January 20, 2012

Exceptional Exumas

We left Nassau on Tuesday, as did five other boats.  Some of them were headed to the northern Exumas (Allen’s Cay and Highbourne) but since Kala wouldn’t be able to go ashore there, our destination was Norman’s Cay (pronounced “key”).  As we made the passage, we talked to a couple people we knew on the radio that were coming and going and it was fun to catch up with old friends. 

The Exumas are a chain in the eastern Bahamas that stretch basically from east of Nassau down to just above the Tropic of Cancer (20 degrees latitude).  You could spend years here checking out every tiny island but since our time is limited (though we will be coming back to check out what we’ve missed), we have to choose a couple along the way.

Norman’s Cay was our first stop.  There is not much on the island except one single room thatch-roofed shack that serves as the local watering hole and one airstrip only large enough to land a single engine plane.  It is the old stomping grounds of drug lord Carlos Lehder.  We anchored about 100 yards from a plane that crashed in 15 feet of water, and jumped in the dinghy and snorkeled in and around it.  There were beautiful Seargent Majors and enormous groupers.  It was fun to stand on the wing of a plane and dive into the water.  Kala loved the beaches at Norman’s and she would chase me as we swam together.  Something we couldn’t do in the mountain lakes in Utah.

Warderick Wells, about 20 miles south of Norman’s, was next.  It is in the Exuma Land and Sea Park that is a protected area and the wildlife is thriving! After an exciting sail on a good broad reach, we picked up a mooring ball and I can tell you that as I type this (and it is uploaded via shared satellite connection), with the view from our cockpit – THIS is why we bought a sailboat.  This is one of the most beautiful landscapes ever.  Kala is not allowed inland (to protect the native species) but when the tide goes out she can run on the exposed sand bars until her heart’s content.  Then the tide comes back in and all her little footprints are washed away. 

Tomorrow we will be leaving Warderick Wells and anchoring near Staniel Cay.  We would like to snorkel Thunderball grotto (yes, where the James Bond movie was filmed).  Hopefully we’ll get that chance.  There is also a grocery store there (a luxury in this part of the world) so we’ll pick up provisions too.

It’s also sad for us because we are saying goodbye to our wonderful Aussie friends on S/V Island Girl.  We have been traveling together since we’ve left Marathon but they are headed south a bit faster than we are, so we will keep in touch and maybe meet again in an anchorage on the other side of the world. 
Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells - with a marker for SV Stella Blue.

Kala Beach (until the tide comes back in and washes it away)

Thank you Momma for bringing me here.

HUGE lobster we saw while snorkeling Ranger Gardens

Beaches don't get much closer to your boat.

Kala swimming with me at Norman's Cay.

Baxter snorkeling the DC-6 plane wreck.

Warderick Wells.
Inge and Rocky on Island Girl

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