Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feb.26th,2007-Heading for Warderick Well with a stop in Shroud Cay

Feb.26th.Heading for Warderick Wells

We’re ready to move on from Highborne Cay. We’ve topped up our water and diesel. By 1230hrs. we are on our way. We will probably stop in Shroud Cay as it looks to have better anchorages than Normans Cay.

By 1640hrs. we are anchored at Shroud Cay.N24*32.048” W076*47.981”

We are inside the Exuma Land & Sea Park Boundary. There is no fishing allowed. Shroud Cay is an archipelago of small cays divided by creeks and mangroves..

(Personally I felt good on this ride south as it seemed the depth was a constant 12 to 16 feet. One time the depth sounder did go off. Randy stopped the boat quickly and we turned around. Of coarse at this point UNWIND started calling as they were behind us and wondered what was happening. ( It turned out Randy had set the depth alarm for 10 feet so he has adjusted.)

As soon as we were anchored, what did we see but a 3 to 4 foot Barracuda! Needless to say no swimming off the stern.

Tues. Feb.27th

We went over to Rum Runner a 473 Beneteau and met Jay and Jennifer with their dog named Kona. ( We were impressed with their dodger and wondered how it was made.) They are from the eastern seaboard and basically are heading the same way as us. They said it took them a couple of months to get used to the shallow depths, but feel it’s primarily sand so when they hit bottom they just pull themselves off. When it’s shallow they travel at about 2 knots.
We spent the afternoon exploring. First we went to Normans Cay to see the DC3 plane that had crashed into the bay. We actually were a little disappointed as there is not much left to see. Someone had mentioned it was good for snorkeling however we decided against it. We felt we should head back closer to HIGH STATES as we were about five miles away from our anchorage. We meandered our way back, exploring a couple of canals with deep anchorage. (It looks like someone is starting new marinas??) Then we came across a sign that said the Exuma Park and we started our way through a canal surrounded by mangroves. It was absolutely beautiful. We saw one shark and a few rays. We decided we’d best turn around as we didn’t know if we could get out the other end of the canal. We didn’t want to run out of gas. By the time we got back the UNWIND crew was back from their excursion too so we all went swimming in a very shallow protected bay. The snorkeling was not good but we all enjoyed the water.
Wed. Feb.28th
We have had a new experience the last two mornings. We have had dew on the decks. Yesterday’s swimwear and towels are still soaking wet. Last night Randy closed up the port lights which kept the interior of the boat much drier. With the swells we continue to take a pounding on our stern throughout the night. Last night Randy changed us over to use the forward water tank in order to get rid of some of the forward weight. The water is probably 1100 pounds plus the 300 feet of anchor chain plus rode (one pound per foot) adds another 300 pounds. We’ll see how this experiment works.

Randy continues to try and fix the inverter. We figure it’s probably seven years old so maybe the problem is right in the unit and needs replacing. He has downloaded the manual and checked everything to no avail. Evelyn lent me a book “Guide to the Bahamas” which I am enjoying.

Thurs. 29th

1430hrs. Leaving Shroud Cay, it is a dead calm.

By 1530hrs. The winds have really picked up. The jib is out and we’re traveling at 5 knots; engine off.

Well, that was quite a ride. We were in 34 knots of wind. We couldn’t beat the storm coming at us. We went to anchor at Emerald Rock which is at the south end of Warderick Wells. We could see mooring buoys and upon hailing the park office we were advised to take up a mooring.

Fri. March 1st.

Last night was down right stormy. (Another sleepless night for Rand) We went to the Park Office to see if we can move to the inside mooring buoys where hopefully there is more protection. After approx. one and a half hours the manager Judy said she had room for both boats. We left our moorage around 1130hrs. arriving at the new moorage by 1400hrs. Amazing what can take ten minutes by dinghy took us three hours on HIGH STATES. Of coarse that is because of the shallow water depths. We had to head west to a way point and then north, and then east again. I was on bow duty for the extent of the trip.

For us getting into these mooring balls was a little tricky. The charts not only showed a strong current but the complete center of the bay dries at low tide. We were placed at a mooring ball on the other side (NW side) of the entrance and told to stay in “dark water”. At one point our GPS said we were on the rocks in front of the Park Head Quarters. Our new“neighbours” kindly were waiting to help us grab the mooring ball line as there really is no room for a mistake of missing it.

In 1959 the Bahamian Gov’t set aside a 176 square mile area which is the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Totally the park is 22 miles long and 8 miles wide. Warderick Wells is one of 15 large islands. It is home to the Park Headquarters with a Park Warden and staff. The Royal Bahamas Defense Force officers are also stationed at the park head quarters on a permanent rotational basis to help enforce by-laws. The main by-law being no taking or destruction of anything! The presence of the defense force was requested due to continued poaching and the need to protect the warden and park volunteers.

This picture shows the sand bank in the center of Warderick Wells.

There are over four miles of trails on Warderick Wells. The park is full of lizards and Hutia, which are a nocturnal animal that looks like a combination of rabbit and rat. We have helped the park by picking up plastic garbage on the beaches.
We all hiked up to Boo Boo Hill, to the famous cairn site where cruisers leave mementos. Randy had carved an old piece of beach wood with both boat names HIGH STATES and UNWIND and with the date of our visit to this beautiful park.

We have changed our minds about leaving today. The north winds are a lot stormier than we thought they were going to be. We originally thought today was going to bring a moderate breeze of 11-16 knots, however, it’s more like Force 6-7, strong breeze to near gales (22 to 33 knots). Plus the seas are anywhere from 3 to 10 feet for the next four days.

In general, looking over our travels to date we have had to go to a number of marinas primarily because we have not found enough good anchorages. The Bahamas are full of chains of cays and islets either too shallow for us with little or no protection from the winds. Also strong currents are a normalcy. The winter weather patterns can be severe and we have had the unfortunate experience of being directly in them. The winds definitely do a 360 degree “clocking”. The cold front comes from the north bringing strong winds, and then slowly moves to the NE. We have read where people have moved their boats a number of times in the same bay. This is because of these wind changes.

Our Bimini needed repairing.

Randy has gone into the park office to charge up the computer, check weather reports and then is going over to UNWIND. The Rutherford’s can’t get their patch to weld to their dinghy. Our patch kit is not the same type of product so it won’t work.

Our batteries still are not holding charge. Sounds like along with a new inverter we’re going to need some new batteries when we get to George Town, plus a new VHF. Money, money, money!!!

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