When someone asks, “What was your favorite part of the Bahamas?” it’s hard to come up with a single answer. Do you mean my favorite spot to sail? Or my favorite beach? Or my favorite place to hike? My favorite deserted island? Or my favorite town? The best place to socialize with other cruisers? Or the best place to get a feel for the real islands?
If asked to pick one favorite spot, I will always choose the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Once we safely pick up a ball in the north mooring field, I’d be perfectly happy to stay until we run out of cans of tuna fish and bottles of rum.
On this northbound trip through the Exumas, we visited several new parts of the park that we’d missed on our sprint south. There are eighteen Cays within the park boundaries. We anchored off the coast of O’Brien’s Cay for a couple of nights to snorkel the wreck of a plane that crashed here in the bad old days of cocaine smuggling from the Bahamas to the US. Ordinarily, you’d need to scuba dive a plane wreck, but the waters around Cambridge Cay, Bells Island, and O’Brien’s Cay are so shallow, even I was able to snorkel the wreck. At least when the current, which rips through this narrow gap, was reasonably light. The sea aquarium is another stellar snorkeling site just a few boat lengths from our anchorage. It’s a wall dive, that again is a rare experience for shallow diving snorkelers, full of colorful live coral and fish of all sizes and colors. Note to self: next year, bring an underwater camera!
Along with Orion and SE of Disorder, we “dinghy-pooled” over to Cambridge Cay to hike. Poor little Bug could not have covered that distance. Note to self: next year, buy a bigger dinghy and/or outboard! The cliff hike is amazing, with lots of short steep climbs between gorgeous beaches.
Have to admit I got a little carried away exploring and taking pictures of the rocky shore made up of limestone, coral, shells, and stromatolites – fossilized remains of ancient single-celled microbes.
Of course, some of the most dramatic rock formations located near Rachel’s Bubble Bath needed a little help from human hands.
All in all, we had a wonderful time exploring the southern portion of Exuma Park. Until nighttime when thunderstorms arose and the wind shifted dramatically. But that’s another story…
After that crazy night, we craved a safe, protected anchorage. And we found it back in the mooring field on Warderwick Wells. We hiked so much of the island on this visit, we ended up sunburnt and dehydrated and covered with scratches and bug bites. Always the sign of a good adventure!
I’ve mentioned the hike to Boo Boo hill, the highest point on Warderwick Wells. This time, we finally got our act together to leave a souvenir of our passage. The St Pete Marina Dock 4 crew is now immortalized on a sign at the top of Boo Boo! (Don’t worry, although we follow the rules of Leave No Trace in the National Park, an exception is made for wooden signs left by cruisers. After a season, or even a few summer storms, they quickly decompose and leave space for next year’s cruisers to leave their own record of their passage.)
The snorkeling at Warderwick Wells is always amazing. This time, I saw a sea turtle, lion fish, gigantic grouper and lobster. Oh, and Sanitas’ latest friend Sharkey Shark. Am I ever going to get used to the fact that these massive sharks longer than I am tall live under our boat? Better not to think about it!
Getting just a teeny bit tired of our variations on the one-pot meal, Mike took on the challenge of creating a gluten-free pizza. This was an all afternoon ordeal of mixing dough, allowing it to rise, rehydrating spinach and green pepper toppings, slicing salami, and making sauce. I think it turned out pretty darn amazing. What do you think?