Drum roll please…and help us welcome Storyville and Anchor Management to the Bahamas! Our Kemah friends, Deana, Troy, and Steve, have made it to the Exumas, and we finally got to meet up with them in Shroud Cay on Sunday. We intended to get to Shroud on Saturday, but a gorgeous offshore run from Bell Island ended with a bouncy trip through the inlet and a rolling anchorage courtesy of some strong north-westerly winds. LA and Susan recommended a last-minute detour to Norman’s Cay; it meant for an extra miserable hour on the water, but gave us a much calmer night’s sleep. Great call, guys! Our VHF still doesn’t transmit beyond about two miles, but Susan was able to reach Steve on Anchor Management to determine that he, Deana, and Troy were all still in Allan’s Cay and would arrive in Shroud the next day. We made it to Shroud around lunchtime, and quickly spotted Anchor Management and Storyville on mooring balls. We hopped in the dinghy and had a Kemah reunion on Storyville, along with their buddy boaters, Christie and Matt, on Kaleo.
Not wanting to waste the afternoon, we all rode up to the northern end of Shroud for a dinghy trip through the mangroves to Driftwood Beach. The cut wasn’t ripping like a water-slide as it had the last time we were there, but the views were as gorgeous as ever. We hiked back up to Camp Driftwood for some photo ops (much easier in Teva's than flip flops), and made our way back to the boats in time for sunset. Genesis had arrived while we’d been on the north side, and we all joined up for happy hour aboard Pipe Muh Bligh. It’s great to be surrounded by good friends!
Sunday we took the kayaks into the central creek on Shroud to play explorer. Motorized vessels aren’t allowed in the mangroves in the central and northern creeks, and we quickly understood why – depths are anywhere from zero to six inches at low tide, and it’s easy to ground in a kayak (let alone with an outboard motor). We towed the kayaks behind the dinghy to a beach near the mouth of the creek and set up camp. Deana and Troy joined us in their kayaks for a trip up the lazy river, and we were blown away by the gorgeous scenery. We saw small fish, sea birds, and even a small shark. (The creek dead-ends in the mangroves before it reaches the ocean, so we’re guessing the shark must’ve come from either the north or south end of the island. Quite a trek for the little guy!) We spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the beach, while Steve, Christie, and Matt took their own tour in the kayaks. We had a fantastic afternoon, and will definitely go back when we have boat guests.
On Monday, the Kemah crew headed south to Warderick Wells while we and Genesis made our way to Hawksbill Cay. It looked like a perfect day for sailing, and we saw ten sailboats in front of us – all with canvas out. Since Hawksbill was only three miles from Shroud, we didn’t even bother raising a sail. Talk about a downer…it’s just not right motoring when you have 15 knots of wind on the beam! Still, the stop in Hawksbill Cay was entirely worth it. We and Genesis were the only boats in the anchorage, and we enjoyed a beautiful walk along a sand bar at the cay’s north end during low tide. We also hiked up to the Loyalist ruins, only to see a snake warming itself on the rocks. Yuck!
We met up with the other boats at Warderick Wells on Tuesday afternoon. Warderick is a lot like summer camp – or at least how you imagine summer camp should be. There are four miles of hiking trails, plenty of snorkeling spots, blow holes, sandy beaches, and even a hammock near what used to be a "pirate’s lair". Of course, a visit to Warderick isn’t complete without a trip to Boo Boo Hill, where people leave pieces of driftwood painted with their boat names as they pass through. We hadn’t come prepared on our first visit to Warderick, but made sure to add our own sign when we reached Boo Boo Hill this time. We continued on to Boo Boo Beach, along the rocky shoreline, and across the causeway “bridge” (rocks) until we completed the loop back at the park HQ. Another day was spent snorkeling at Malabar Cays and Emerald Rock, where Rene spotted a HUGE lobster hiding under a ledge (sorry – it’s protected. No fishing!). The wildlife didn’t end at the snorkeling site; we watched a beautiful spotted eagle ray swim right past our stern, hiked with birds who would land on your palm looking for a hand-out, and saw a nurse shark and a stingray near the park HQ. Our most adventurous day was spent hiking a longer loop, starting at a sandy beach near Emerald Rock, up to the Davis Plantation ruins, along a rock wall to the Atlantic side, south along the rocky coastline to Pirate’s Lair near the southern mooring field, across the island to the western side, and back up along the beach and interior trails back to our starting point. Did we mention that 90% of this involved walking on jagged limestone?? Falling was definitely not an option! We were rewarded with spectacular views at every turn, along with a cold beer back at the beach. Add a few dinners and happy hours aboard different boats, plus an after-dinner concert courtesy of Troy and his guitar, and we absolutely loved our time in Warderick Wells.
Our next trip is a tour of the island of Eleuthera, which is a 42nm sail from Warderick Wells. LA and Susan read that Rock Sound, Eleuthera, is a good place for US-like provisioning, so we're excited about getting some "real" produce. We've been able to get onions, tomatoes, and green peppers in Staniel Cay, but haven't seen any mangoes, avocados, or anything more "fragile" (shipping-wise) since Nassau. Our friends, Skip and Betsy, are coming down from Annapolis for a visit at the end of February, so this is also a good opportunity to find a few extra provisioning items before they get here. In the meantime, we’re working diligently to clear out the guest room so they’ll have a place to sleep… guess we’ll just have to drink more so we can get those wine boxes off the bed! :-)