January 25, 2007 - Warderick Wells, Bahamas
I only worked a half day yesterday so we could go snorkeling in the afternoon before the wind built with the approaching cold front. After fashioning (and installing, not to anyone's complete satisfaction) handrails for the new dock steps we had built, Laura and Annie and I headed over to the dinghy moorings around Emerald Rock. There were four yellow moorings, each near a small reef with lots of fish. Since our visit last year the park has also installed a large number of moorings between Emerald Rock and Beryl Beach where boats previously anchored. Anchoring is still allowed, but only well outside the Rock in an area that's more exposed to the wind and seas.

This morning there was no work to be had, so I came back to the boat to work on magic tricks with Laura and write a little more on the cruising novel. The wind has picked up out of the south and it just could be a nice afternoon for a hike.

Snorkeling Emerald Rock Hiking Boo Boo Hill Trail

Title Photo: Laura and Iguanas on the beach at Allen's Cay. Also: (1) Annie snorkeling yesterday near Emerald Rock. (2) Hiking today with Boo Boo Hill in the background. This section has floating trail markers for obvious reasons.

January 27, 2007 - Warderick Wells, Bahamas
Starting a pattern that will likely continue, the cold front clocked the winds all the way around as it passed, making the moorings at Emerald Rock less desirable. On Thursday there were still several boats there, and as we hiked around the island we could see them in the distance, pitching and rolling. By Friday, one boat was reportedly heard hailing "any marina, any marina" in an attempt to find shelter. By that afternoon just about all the boats were gone from Emerald Rock. Here in the north mooring field, it was a little choppy but not bad.

Laura and I made new boat signs to hang up on Boo Boo Hill, but Laura liked hers so much that she decided to keep it here on the boat. Today after work Laura and I hiked up and hung the one I had made, then took turns having our hats blown off at the Blowhole nearby. With some brisk east winds, the Blowholes (small solution tubes up from an overhung bluff where the waves crash in and force the air upward) are really blowing. Tonight was the weekly Saturday night cocktail party on the beach, and Laura seemed to have a great time mingling with all the adults. Ken from Oz brought me a can of Coca-Cola, since I had admitted to craving one today at work. Ken and I spent all day grinding and sanding on one of the park's boats, really messy work, after putting some fiberglass patches on yesterday. I think we're both looking forward to a day off work tomorrow.

January 28, 2007 - Warderick Wells, Bahamas
Today we took the dinghy over through the three foot swells, past two sailboats and a trawler rocking and rolling at Emerald Rock, to Beryl Beach to hike the south side of the island. It was a good hike, over very jagged rock much of the way, past four nice beaches to the Pirate's Lair at the South anchorage, then up the east side of the island and back across to Beryl along a four foot high wall that runs across the island. We guessed that the wall was built by the Loyalists 200-300 years ago to contain livestock, but what livestock we can't imagine. I suppose goats might be happy in this rugged terrain, with the limestone pocked with holes up to twenty feet deep, but it's not what you would imagine would be prime pasture land for any kind of animal.

Pirate's Lair

Photo: Pirates such as Blackbeard really did relax here at the Pirate's Lair near the South Anchorage, which was a perfect place to hide their ships while watching for shipping bound for Nassau. Today you can still anchor there, but the park plans to install two more mooring balls and prohibit anchoring soon. Blackbeard probably wouldn't pay for his mooring, anyway.

January 29, 2007 - Warderick Wells, Bahamas
Like at least half the fleet here at Exuma Park, we are planning to take advantage of the next few days of nice weather and give up our moorings here in the park. It's been a great nine days here. By working five of those days as a volunteer I got to keep our expenses low, meet some neat people, and gain valuable training for one of those high-paying boatyard jobs back in the states. I also made it to the summit of Boo Boo Hill six times, a personal best.

If we get an early enough start tomorrow, our next stop will probably be Black Point. It's been three weeks since we did laundry in Bimini and grinding fiberglass all day does get the clothes dirty.

Sign on Boo Boo Hill Hiking toward South Anchorage Bananaquits

Photos:(1) Our new sign on Boo Boo Hill is in a very prominent location. (2) Hiking yesterday towards the South Anchorage. (3) Laura had up to six bananaquits at once on her hand today. These birds evidently have not heard of the Atkins diet.

January 30, 2007 - Black Point, Bahamas
It seemed as if every boat at Exuma Park was leaving today. Most were headed to Staniel, but we continued another five miles further to Black Point and its famous laundry mat. I got an e-mail with great news from Sail magazine, who are interested in publishing a short article I wrote for their "Voice of Experience" column. Actual income from our cruise! I calculate that I just need to sell another 70 similar articles (less than one per day for the rest of our trip) and this cruise will pay for itself! The bad news is that the article, in keeping with the nature of that particular column, clearly demonstrates what a dummy I am when it comes to sailing and cruising. I'm not sure that's news to most people, much less enough news to get another 70 articles out of it, but we'll do our best.

Laura's Painting Black Point Anchorage

Photos:(1) My feeble writing skills are no match for Laura's artistic talent. She painted this one (with a little help from the nice artist-in-residence from Sea Otter) while waiting in the Black Point laundry mat. (2) View of the Black Point Anchorage from the window of the laundry.

January 31, 2007 - Staniel Cay, Bahamas
No tour of Black Point would be complete without a visit to the Garden of Eden, so we walked up there in the morning to see a large collection of artfully arranged driftwood that landscapes a yard. After picking up our bread (coconut, cinnamon/raisin, and wheat) we were off. We had another long (not!) day of travel, motoring almost seven miles back to Staniel Cay. We wanted to anchor near Thunderball so we could do some snorkeling and shopping, but remembered that the holding wasn't great in the inner harbor near the cave last year. Instead, we went out between two of the small cays and anchored on the other side in a tongue of deep water where our anchor dug into the side of a sand hill. Although I don't think this will be the most comfortable spot around when the current switches, I like being close to town.

We did a quick snorkeling trip, confirming that Thunderball is an amazing place. Swimming towards the entrance, you are met by a hundred Sergeant Majors coming right towards you, hoping for a handout. There are several entrances to the cave, and it's fun to swim through from one to another. For the second time on this cruise, I started wishing I had a kayak, because that would be an ideal craft to take into the cave at low tide to do photography.

Snorkeling towards Thunderball Entrance Nurse Sharks

Photos:(1) Annie and Laura snorkel towards the entrance of Thunderball Cave. (2) There are always lots of friendly nurse sharks and gigantic rays around the docks at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.

February 2, 2007 - Chicken (Fowl) Cay, Bahamas
As had been foretold, the winds came around from the south-southwest during the night and Big Majors Spot, where we had anchored with a couple of dozen other boats, began to get uncomfortable. We had moved over from Staniel to get shelter from the southeast winds and to visit our friends, the pigs. Big Majors is home to "Pig Beach," where a number of farm pigs live and feed off scraps from cruisers and tourists. This year there were more than ever: six came running, including two brown pigs. The brown pigs were fairly aggressive and Annie spent much time fighting them off.

Brown Pig Pink Pig

Photos:(1) The brown razorbacks are cute, but just too dangerous (or maybe just a bit pompous). (2) The pink pigs seem to be a little more laid-back.

Today we motored north a few miles to the Rocky Dundas, small cays just inside the southern boundary of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. Last year we dinghied over from Cambridge Cay, a distance of about two miles, to get to the Dundas, but this year we anchored much closer in a horse-shoe shaped lagoon off Chicken (Fowl) Cay. It's a fine anchorage for the forecast winds and we have it all to ourselves, but it would be terrible in a northeast wind when the waves and swell from Exuma Sound would come crashing in.

Once anchored, we wasted no time in getting in the dinghy for a trip to the caves at the Rocky Dundas. Since it was low tide we were able to drive the dinghy right into the southern cave, which is mostly dry once you get inside. The cave is basically a single large room, fifty by a hundred feet long, lit by skylights in the ceiling. The northern cave, also lit by a big skylight, is a bit smaller and has no dry land aside from a couple of small ledges. The snorkeling outside the caves is good, with lots of fish and a beautiful piece of yellow elkhorn coral. Afterwards we dinghied over to the north end of Compass Cay, looking for something called Rachel's Bubble bath, but didn't find it.

Rocky Dundas Cave Rocky Dundas Cave

Photos:(1) The "dock" in the southern Rocky Dundas Cave from ledge at front of cavern. (2) The southern cave from ledge at rear. I didn't take any photos of the northern cave due to lack of a good dinghy dock inside.

February 4, 2007 - Warderick Wells
We had a pleasant trip north through Exuma Sound from Conch Cut to Warderick Wells, where we have settled in right next to our old mooring. We have a couple of days of rainy, windy weather coming so we'll stay put here. Lots of boats were headed down to Cambridge but I think there will be more to do here, especially since Grace is staying as well. We enjoyed a fine hike with them up and over Boo Boo Hill this morning. Legend has it (at least the legend I am trying to promote) that if you climb the hill at least once a day, you'll have health and prosperity for all of your stay.

Roasting Marshmellows

Photo: Lots of kids, including those from Spoony, Rio Dulce, and Grace, joined Laura in roasting marshmellows at the Saturday night happy hour at Exuma Park.

February 7, 2007 - Staniel Cay
We had an interesting four days at Exuma Park, with a couple of days of howling winds and cloudy skies. I volunteered two out of the four days and got to do more fiberglass grinding (my least favorite job), some laying of fiberglass, a little ditch digging, and some light carpentry. Larry, who along with Tom shoulders the "volunteer warden" duties for the park, showed us his garden, where is growing amazing vegetables using hydrophonics.

Today we motorsailed back down to Staniel Cay, where we tanked up with diesel for the boat (21 gallons), gas for the dinghy, and topped off the water tanks. We've been using the watermaker on a daily basis but still haven't kept up with consumption, especially since after a full day of work I really look forward to a shower. This morning we talked to Endaxi, Second Wind, and Drifter, all of whom were back in Florida, on the SSB, which was fun.

My goal for tomorrow is to get my Nikon (and maybe the video camera) back into Thunderball Cave in attempt to catch the really great photo I know is lurking there.

Next Two Weeks | Previous Two Weeks | Start of Log

Copyright © 2007 by Rodger Ling. All rights reserved.