April 7, 2016
We get up and decide to head up to Cambridge Cay for our next adventure. The winds are light so we motor up on the inside of the islands where you are protected from the seas. We then head over to Conch Cut and out into the Exuma Sound to head into the norther entrance to the mooring field. The sound is a bit rolly but not near as bad as I expected from all the high winds we have been having.
We head in fighting a two knot current which makes it a slow slog in. We round the first reef and keep it to our left and then the second reef and keep it to our right. We keep ourselves in about 13 feet of water and then enter the mooring field going due south. There are only two other boats there so we have a good choice of mooring balls. We pick a mooring in the middle of the field and tie off using two lines through the eyelet. We head below to relax for a bit.
We hear a dinghy coming along side our boat a few minutes later. We head up to investigate and find Bo and Joyce from Dreamcatcher in their dinghy hanging on to the side of our boat. We haven't seen them since St. Augustine! We express our shock and they do the same. We do a little catching up and make plans to go snorkeling just south of the mooring field in about a half an hour.
We take half an hour to drop the dinghy and get our snorkeling gear all loaded up and then head over to Dreamcatcher. We follow them to the reef, don our snorkeling gear, and then enter the water. The reef has a good selection of fish and choral. The waters are shallow so the colors are still quite vivid. It is a good snorkel and Bo does some video recording for his job with the Waterways Guide.
We head back to the boat and clean up our gear. We then head back over to Dreamcatcher for a quick happy hour before dinner. They tell us they are headed south for at least a week and then will be heading north for the Abacos. We will likely run into them again up there somewhere. We say our good byes and then head back to our boat.
April 8, 2016
We hang around until after 9:00 so we can make reservations for a mooring in Warderick Wells for tomorrow on the radio. We then head up to the Aquarium to do some snorkeling there near high tide. We motor north in relatively protected waters. The winds are under ten knots, so the waters are relatively flat. We head a few miles north and tie up at the mooring ball at the Aquarium.
The Aquarium is a spot around 20 feet deep and 100 feet wide where the fish congregate right next to a small island. Many tourists feed the fish, so they have become quite accustomed to people being around. These fish will actually swim right up to your face looking for food. It is an unusual experience.
After doing the Aquarium we head over to the plane wreck nearby and dive on it. This wreck is an old drug runner's plane that barely made it off the runway before crashing into the water. After diving on the plane we headed back to the boat for lunch.
We chilled for a while to waiting for it to get close to low tide. We went over to the Rocky Dundas and explored the caves on its north side. These cave entrances are above water at low tide so you can swim right in. We explore the caves and the surrounding coral before crossing the channel back into the park.
We then do a drift snorkel along a quarter mile long reef on the south side of the park. We went to the far west side of the reef and then let the outgoing current carry us across the reef. It is an incredible experience. We get to see lots of fish and great coral during the drift. After the snorkeling event we head back to the boat to chill for the rest of the night.
April 9, 2016
We hang out until after 9:00 to contact Exuma Park to see if they have a ball for us in the north field of Warderick Wells. We are park supporters so that should give us priority over others that are seeking a mooring as well. We talk to the park and they tell us they have a mooring ball for us. We slip our mooring ball here at Cambridge and head out the south entrance to the mooring field. We have never used the south channel because the depths on the chart show that it is too shallow for our boat.
There are four Canadian boats anchored in the middle of the south channel which is very narrow. We steam right at them and just clear them by a few feet so we can keep in the deep waters of the south channel. It is high tide so we should be able to clear the points where the chart shows five feet of depth at mean low tide. The tide here is about two feet. We keep a close eye on the depth finder and the waters about so that we do not run aground. We never see less than seven feet of depth all the way through the channel.
We head out Conch Cut and drop below the park boundaries so we can put out our fishing lines. The water is really flat, so there is not much chance of catching a fish but we put out our lines just in case. We turn north when we clear the eastern boundaries of the park and run for a couple of hours before turning back into the park. We bring in our fishing lines having not a single strike.
We get to the cut near the park and the tide is running out pretty good. Our speed drops below three knots due to the current, so I push the RPMs up to 3000 so we can make at least four knots of progress in the channel. We round the point and enter the channel for the north mooring field at Warderick Wells. We pick up our assigned mooring ball and tie off using two lines to attach to the mooring ball. The beauty of this anchorage is incredible.
We drop our dinghy and run into the ranger station to pay for our stay in the park. Andrew is behind the desk today. He is the park manager. I ask him about killing Lion Fish in the park. Boy, am I sorry I asked. After a 15 minute diatribe on the merits of eliminating the fish from the park, I still do not know what the answer is. That man sure likes to hear himself talk.
After paying our bill we went over to Judy's Reef to do some snorkeling. Karen and Travis went in. I cut my heel petty good on one of the portals, so I stayed out of the water. They said that they saw many species of fish they had not seen before and the coral was also quite good. We then went back to the boat to have our gourmet meal of Hoffman white hot dogs.
April 10, 2016
The winds are now blowing close to 20 knots. The anchorage is a bit rough where we are but not enough to feel uncomfortable. The other boats further in seem to be getting it a lot worse than we are. The currents run through here pretty good which is preventing us from pointing into the wind which would be our most comfortable position.
We head ashore and explore the island. We walk through the bush and see many sink holes along the way. When we get to the eastern side of the island we see the surf is really up and the breakers are exploding against the iron shore. The breakers are pretty impressive.
We walk to Boo Boo Hill and find our driftwood there that we deposited in February with our name in marker. Karen has brought along her wood working tool and carves our boats name into the driftwood. After that we walk over to the blow holes and feel the air rushing through the rocks. We then went back to the boat for lunch.
A dog is howling at his masters on the boat three mooring balls down from us. The owners are ashore in the bird sanctuary near their boat without the dog but the dog can still see them. The owners have no business being in the bird sanctuary. There are signs that say entry into this area is not permitted. I am sure there are responsible dog owners out there but the bad ones get all the press.
April 11, 2016
Karen made some bread and then we headed out of the mooring field and went west in the cut until we found open water to head north to Shroud Cay. We put out our sails but reefed the main and the genoa because the winds were still blowing better than 17 knots out of the east. We are periodically taking water over the bow. It is a rough sail.
We are beginning to see a lot more big yachts in the upper Exumas. Most of the choice spots are being taken by these boats. They also find the beach nearest to them and line up all their water toys on the beach. They then run their jet skis through the mooring field and anchorages because that is where the flat water is. These people are really becoming a nuisance.
We pull in our sails and head into the wind towards the mooring field at Shroud Cay. A huge motor yacht has anchored in the middle of the channel we are trying to enter. We motor pretty close to their anchor, enough that they run out to watch us pass.
We pick up the mooring ball closest in. It is another beautiful spot. We sit back and chill. We then watch a 26 foot rib enter one of the protected creeks on shroud and set up their toys on the protected beach there. They then go blasting around in the creek in their jet skis where motor vessels are not allowed. We have learned that these vessels are charters and it is the crews on these ships that are not respecting the national park rules. So sad.
We go on shore and pay for our mooring site. We then hike to the fresh water well nearby and check it out. I believe this is one of the three Bahamian islands that have their own fresh water supply. After we visit the well we take the dinghy and drive around the island. We then head back to the boat to chill for the night.