Monday May 5, 2014
Keeping as true to my Exuma wish list as possible, since we’ve now already skipped the sunken sculptures at Musha Cay, when Matt asked what our next stop was, I told him ‘Warderick Wells!’. This is one spot I’m actually very sad we missed out on last year, and as soon as we pulled into the anchorage and then brought the dinghy out by the park headquarters, Matt was as well. This place is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! As well it should be, too. That’s because Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Land & Sea Park, a 22 mile stretch of sea and cays that are protected under the Bahamas National Trust where they like to promote the saying ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’. Meaning you take no fish, plants, flowers, ect, and do not leave any trash behind. It’s a great concept and the island has definitely benefited from it.
Warderick Wells hosts two big claims to fame among the cays that make up the Land & Sea park. Not only does it contain the park headquarters (ok, that’s not actually one of them), but it has a stunning horseshoe anchorage filled with mooring balls to preserve the seabed below, and just a few hundred meters away from this is Boo Boo Hill. The lore of Boo Boo Hill is that many years ago, a schooner sank off the shores of Warderick Wells on a stormy night and that every soul on board perished. They still like to haunt the area though, and legend has it that if you climb the crest of the hill at the bloom of a full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns. We weren’t up for night hiking, and I don’t think we were even anywhere near a full moon, but a hike up the hill sounded fun enough.
The term hike should be used very lightly though, and after a few minute uphill climb in which I never even had the chance to become short of breath, we were at the top. The views up there were spectacular, but that wasn’t the only thing we had come to behold. For you see, there’s been a tradition going on here between cruisers for quite a few years now. Keeping with the theme of the natural reserve, cruisers have been leaving their mark at the top of this hill in the form of driftwood with their boat name painted or burned into it. We didn’t have anything to leave as a memento, nor were we planning to, but the stunning views we were afforded at the top was well worth the trip in. Through the mass of driftwood we tried to search out friends that we knew left pieces behind, but the crowd of 2014 was exceedingly strong and we would have had to do a lot of digging to unearth anything older.
There was one sight we spotted at the top of Boo Boo Hill that we weren’t expecting too see but extremely happy we did. Sitting on a mooring ball was s/v Laho, belonging to our friends Kim and Jereme that we hadn’t seen or talked to after spending a night out in the Bahama Banks, something we still hope they don’t hold against us. (‘Oh, this uncontrollably rolly anchorage out in the middle of nowhere? We’ll be fiiiiine.’) Getting back in the dinghy we planned on doing a ride-by stalking to see if anyone was aboard, whilst trying to pretend that we were just checking out the mooring field. Coming up on Laho we saw that in was in fact their boat, but it didn’t appear as if anyone was home. There were however a group of dinghies gathered in the center of the anchorage where low tide had provided a couple of lavish sandbars that would be the perfect spot to enjoy a sundowner, and we cut the dinghy over to see if they were among the crowd.
The crowd however, completely dispersed as we came up on it, and we think we saw Kim, Jereme, and Oliver riding off in a direction back toward their boat. Not wanting to actually stalk them by immediately turning ourselves back around, we landed the dinghy at the sandbar and walked around for a few minutes before trying Laho a second time, where we were eagerly invited aboard and offered cold beers while the four of us filled each other in on lost time. With both boats being stuck for at least one more day due to a front coming through, I made sure that Kim didn’t mind me stopping back over once more so that I could return her favorite hair clip that I borrowed during our casino night and forgot to give back in the excitement of Jereme falling out of our dinghy on the way back to the boats. That was just a cover story though. What I was really after was Photoshop lessons so my photos can begin to look anywhere near as amazing as hers.*
The promised storm did come howling through in the middle of the night, waking us up at 2 am while 35-40 knot winds straightened out all our anchor chain and left Matt in the cabin to sleep in case any quick action needed to be taken. None did, and 30 minutes later everything calmed back down to the peaceful 15-20 knots we’re used to. What the storm did leave in it’s wake though were larger than normal seas on the Banks side of the island, the one we were exposed to. We have not been doing well so far this year in trying to hide ourselves from west winds, and the result has been us rocking back and forth, familiar to those dreaded swells we experienced back in Grand Cayman. This now being our second day of experiencing them, I could not handle it anymore. Calling up Kim on the VHF, I begged her to let me take refuge on Laho for a few hours. I think the phrase ‘I’m going to burn this boat down’ was starting to make it’s way back into my vocabulary.
Knowing that I couldn’t show up empty handed again, I made a quick batch of Johnny Bread after following a recipe on my friend Brittany’s blog. For being a first time attempt I think it came out pretty good, albeit a little more burned than I would have liked, but coupled with a side of strawberry jam I figured it was a very presentable gift for my gracious host, who in turn, handed me a cold Bud Light upon my arrival. You gotta love how these trades work on the high seas. Plus all the valuable lessons and tools I picked up from Kim to use on my CS6, well, let’s just say I think I ended up in the black for the day. (Or week)
Today we got off the boat to do a little more exploration of the island in the form of snorkeling and hiking. There are a few patches of coral marked off in the anchorage we’re in at Emerald Bay, and taking the dinghy over we dropped hook in sandy patches next to the reefs and devoured every colorful fish and piece of brain coral we could take in. I’ll be honest, it didn’t compare to the diving we did in the Ragged Islands last year, but it was our first chance to see anything underwater this year and we were soaking it all in. Once we had finished on the three pieced of coral in the bay we took to diving Emerald Rock itself and found much more life there. Matt spent tons of time in the water sneaking into every little crevice he could find, but the 5 ft barracuda that kept eyeing me, even though I knew it wouldn’t do anything, sent be back to the dinghy to soak up some sun and get warm instead.
After lunch we took to the shore and let Georgie join us. We’ve decided that even though she loathes dinghy rides, we want to get her off the boat when possible so she can add a few new sights and smells to her world. As soon as she was dropped off on the beach she began rolling around in the sand and chasing Matt as he ran near the waters edge. In short, she was acting kind of like…a dog. We were even able to get her to walk on her leash and we hiked up one of the trails to some ruins, and as long as one of us was in the front leading the way, she was completely content to follow. It wasn’t until we were back on the beach that we remembered all the signs posted asking you not to bring your pets on the trails and to keep them on the beaches. Ohhh, right. She is a ‘pet’. I forgot. Cats walking on leashes tend to do that to you.
We could have spent all afternoon resting on that beach, and Matt had even picked out a little cove where he would love to anchor Serendipity for a month straight if we had the time, but true to the Bahamian nature we’ve been experiencing so far this year, the sun was quickly overtaken by approaching clouds and sending us running back to the boat to close all the hatches before something really nasty blew in. With two and a half days here though, I think we still managed to get the full experience in. Verdict of Warderick Wells: Exquisitely beautiful and well worth the stop.
*Now that we’re back in Miami we are hunting down deals for me to buy a new DSLR body so I can stop shooting with my Cyber Shot. I am so over the moon about the prospect of being able to shoot great photos again. Thank you mom for the gift, you’re the best!!