Monday, February 3, 2014

We Made It to the Exumas!

After three attempts to get out of Nassau, Pope has finally fulfilled his dream of cruising to the Exumas, an island chain in the Bahamas, where we intend to enjoy sun, surf, snorkeling, swimming, and sailing. We are overdue for a reward for enduring three months of uncomfortable conditions, engine failures, and hard work. The rebuilt diesel has functioned without incident.
Henry and friend John kept us company for a week. Henry watched for coral heads as we cruised through clear shallow water toward the Exuma cays (pronounced keys), or islands.

We swam in warm, clear turquoise water, off white sand beaches. Spotted sharks, stingrays, lizards, and iguanas; snorkeled on coral fans and reef fish like grouper (black stripes), sergeant majors (yellow stripes), and parrot fish (irridescent blues and pinks).

Day 1, Highbourne Cay: Anchored, swam, enjoyed rum cocktails in celebration of our arrival.

Day 2, Shroud Cay: Reconnected with Bruce and Gayleen of the sailboat Pearl. They are the couple who welcomed Pope and me to Bimini two days before Christmas, after our rough Gulf Stream crossing--and convinced me to keep going instead of flying straight home. I was thrilled to see them again.

On Shroud Cay, dinghy ride through mangrove swamp, visit to old well, washed clothes with well water. Swam in “lap pool”—against a strong current in the mangrove creek. Then sailed onward down the Exuma Bank (large shallow undersea shelf) to Warderick Wells Cay, in Exumas Land and Sea Park, a Bahamian national park.

Day 3, Warderick Wells: Amazingly narrow, natural channel just wide and deep enough for anchoring a few boats. Hike in the dunes with a view, snorkeling on coral garden.

Day 4, Crossing to Staniel Cay: 20-mph headwind all day; difficult sailing and grueling motoring.Makes a mess of salt water on the boat, coming in through the seams.

Day 5, Staniel Cay: Hike through tiny town; snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto, underwater cave made famous by Sean Connery as James Bond 007; joined crowds at Taste and Sea cafe for Super Bowl Sunday.

Liquor brought in to the island's two bars by mail boat and then golf cart. Next day, Henry and John left on a tiny plane for Nassau then home. We miss them already. Quiet on the boat!

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