Thursday, February 03, 2011

Shroud Cay, Hawksbill Cay and Warderick Wells

Shroud Cay is at the Northern border of the Exuma Land and Seas Park.  We arrived and dropped anchor in the still waters next to Shroud Cay in the late afternoon and settled in for dinner.  Just as it was getting dark a boat rowed by and invited us to a gathering on the beach.  We bundled into the Spikkle and rowed in to the dark beach.  Three boats had gathered on the beach (White Seal who had extended the invitation, Curiosity and Sisu) and had built a nice fire in the pit and were busy toasting marshmallows and making s’mores. Seb, Emma and Macsen ate their first s’mores on that beach at Shroud Cay and thus shared yet another North American family tradition.  Super gezellig.

Meg, Charlie and Mary from the White Seal took us in hand again the next day with an invitation for a dinghy safari through the mangrove creeks on Shroud Cay.   They were rowing and so were we so the crew of the S/V Curiosity kindly towed both boats.  We picked up the crew from Sisu on the way and headed for the mouth of the creek.  Rowing on a tiny creek with crystal clear shallow water over bright white sand was a real treat.  The creek twisted through the mangroves and then came out on the Exuma Sound side of the cays where we found crashing waves, a wonderful beach and some great snorkelling.  The conchs lying on the bottom were the largest I have ever seen.  There were several in the group drooling at the size of the conch and dreaming of conch salad and fritters but we respected the park rules and left them to grow some more. From the beach we walked up to Camp Driftwood and enjoyed the incredible views from this promontory. Amazing.  After a lovely drift/ sail back down the creek we stopped for a swim.  Emma and Macsen had a wonderful time playing with the kids from the other boats.  Their ages ranged from 9 to 16 and they were all really great kids who played rambunctious and creative games with the monkeys who in turn shrieked and laughed and enjoyed all of the big kid attention.

 Hawksbill Cay was a day stop on the way to Warderick Wells.  We were the only boat in the bay and were joined on arrival by a 1,5 meter long barracuda whom we affectionately named Barry.  We decided to admire Barry from afar rather than join him in the water as he was eyeing us with a territorial stare.  The Spikkle was called immediately into action and we dinghied in through tiny channels of mangroves before hiking up the hill to enjoy some stunning Exuma views.  Macsen was the self designated leader of our expedition and ran ahead of us calling out “Here I am!” every few steps to guide us through the dense underbrush. 
Our arrival in Warderick Wells was later than expected due to an uncharted sandbar.  We ran lightly aground and decided to wait until high tide to proceed.  We left our anchorage at 2000 and arrived in the harbour at 2300. The crew of the White Seal had kindly left their VHF on for the night in case we needed assistance.  Fortunately we did not, but it does feel nice to know that people are looking out for you.
Warderick Wells houses the headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  The island is covered with rough paths running either through the brush or along the cliffs  offering absolutely stunning views.   We took a long walk from the north mooring field down to the ruins of an old 1700s loyalist plantation.  This took us the better part of the day and the path led us through some tricky wobbly rocky sections with caves.  Emma walked the entire time and Macsen only needed to be carried for a short time.  Super troopers!  In addition to the beautiful scenery, we lost the path at one point and happened upon a family of hutias sleeping in a shady glade.  These animals are round, rabbit sized rodents that are both endangered and nocturnal so we felt pretty lucky to see them in such close quarters.  

Blow holes were the next great attraction of Warderick Wells.  These holes are located at the top of Boo Boo hill  above caves that become almost submerged at high tide. When the swell rushes into the caves the air is pushed up through the holes with tremendous pressure, enough to make your hair stand on end!  

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