We left Shroud Cay on a forecast of 12-17 knots of favorable wind and 3-5 foot seas. Let me tell you what I’ve learned about forecasts: they are sometimes made up. They are made up to encourage boaters to get out and sail, I guess. Often, they have little to do with reality. This was one of those times. The wind direction was less favorable than predicted, which was ok but meant that, in order to sail, we had to go a little wide of our destination. OK, we do this all the time. No big deal. The wind was also 20-25 knots as the day went on, gusting 30ish. Well, that’s a good bit of wind, but we have had 30 knot gusts before. Not ideal, but doable. Our boat can handle that, and so can we. The real issue was the sea state. 3-5 feet? Try 6-8. Gross. Uncomfortable. Hard on the boat, hard on the crew. And it caused us to make ridiculously slow progress. We had planned to get into Warderick Wells at slack tide, but instead we got to come in against the running tide to take a mooring in the narrow river of water at this park. We made it fine, but my nerves were shot by the time we did.
Now you might be wondering: Narrow river of water? I thought you were in the ocean? Well, yes,we are in the ocean, but the tides that run through this park have carved deep rivers, and made very shallow sand bars on either side. We could stand in ankle deep water 50 feet from our mooring. It was a very odd feeling to be so close to the “beach” on one side, and the rocks on the other.
It turns out that this was a perfect place to sooth my frayed nerves, and was a highlight of our time in the Bahamas.
The first morning we were there, we decided on a land based
adventure. We would climb Boo Boo Hill, and leave a sign that we had visited. The legend of Boo Boo Hill originates with a shipwreck on the reef on the Atlantic side of the island. Apparently, all souls were lost, and, on the full moon, you can hear their souls singing hymns and moaning on Boo Boo Beach (named for the sounds of these spirits!). At the hill above that beach, cruisers traditionally leave a sign of their visit on a piece of driftwood. We opted to make our sign out of a piece of the trim from our old mast; it seemed appropriate. Alan got out the dremel, and did a nice job carving our name for posterity. If you visit and see our sign, send us a pic!
We also hiked down to the beach, and up and over to the north end of the island – or as far as we were allowed. Parts of the island are closed during certain times of year for breeding and nesting activities.
By now, I was dying to get back in the water, so the next day we snorkeled Emerald Rock. The variety of corals and fish was astounding, and the water clarity was excellent. I thought this was about as good as it could get, but every reef we dove was just as impressive, or more so. Pieces of 8 Reef was a particular favorite.
We also decided to hike up to some ruins of a loyalist settlement
on the island, and let me tell you, OSHA has not been there! The trail was barely discernible in places, and there were holes to avoid everywhere. On some of them, we could see the bottom, many of them we could not. The only warning sign we saw was to let us know that there were poisonwood trees on the trail. This is apparently similar to poison ivy, so Alan was very careful to avoid it. But no warnings about the holes, so we didn’t worry! (Kidding!) The wildness of the trails definitely adds to the atmosphere, and I hope that never changes.
There are little lizards with curly tails all over the place, and I couldn’t go more than a few steps without stopping for a picture of one. So cute!
The ruins themselves were in a state of extreme decay. It was hard to tell the ruins from just piles of rocks. We asked the park guide about the story that went with them, but he didn’t have much information because he was pretty new on the job. Still, I’m glad we took the hike.
At least one very friendly nurse shark hangs out near the moored boats, practically begging to be fed. He will actually come up to the backs of the boats and let folks pet him! We didn’t feed or pet him, but he still stopped by to see if we might have a spare chicken or something.
It was hard to tear ourselves away from this little piece of paradise, but Cambridge Cay was calling. Cruisers that we met in Bimini had us very anxious to get there, so we picked up and moved on once again. I’m pretty sure a month would not be enough to thoroughly explore Warderick Wells, and I hope to come back someday!