Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Week in Warderick Wells Land & Sea Park

We are the 3rd boat on a mooring at Land & Sea Park
When we left Cambridge Cay we went out on the windward side of the islands because it is much shorter. However, I wish we would have taken the longer route because it was quite roly poly and not very comfortable. Luckily, it was only a two hour run so we were in to Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park on a mooring by 1pm. 

After lunch we hiked to Boo Boo Hill where our friend's memorial bench is located. Robin and Corbett were good friends of her also, and helped with getting the bench over to here. It was looking still strong but the teak turned very gray. 
The teak bench weathered.
Robin working on the bench.

What some tender loving care will do!

 So the next day Robin and I worked on the bench, sanding and adding a coat of teak oil. Unfortunately, we ran out of teak oil for the last set of legs, but what a difference in the look of the bench! The guys worked clearing the main trail and another trail which led to Boo Boo Beach. Exhausted we chilled in the afternoon until 4pm when people gathered at the beach for happy hour.
Happy Hour on the beach.
We stayed until it got dark and as soon as the sunset, it seemed the hutia (a nocturnal rodent the size of a small cat) come searching for food. They know we cruisers drop some of our snacks so they come to clean up after us.
A hutia looking for food.  They are not that afraid of humans.

Was it Pat singing her praises?
The next day while Robin worked at the ranger office organizing all the loaner books by authors, I went back to the bench to finish the oiling. The guys continued to clear more trails. I could not believe in one day how gray the bench had turned, so instead of just doing the unfinished legs, I redid the entire bench. I know it won't last very long but it will help the wood. Just as I finished, a bird which we don't see many of, came in back of Pat's bench and sang a beautiful song. It was a weird feeling but I almost felt it was Pat saying how pleased she was. The bench did look beautiful. We do miss her.
The finished bench.

A dry blow hole.   
I walked over to the blow holes nearby when I was finished the bench. They are holes that break through the ground and on rough days, sea spray will come up through them like a geyser.

 In fact, that afternoon and the next day I got to see them in action from the ranger station and even from our boat because a front moved in about noon with strong winds blowing 22-30 knots the rest of the day and night!
Can see the spray coming up through the blow holes.

A bit rough when it blow 25 -30 knots in the mooring field!
 So as you can see, it is not always perfect in paradise!

Sunday dawned with still a lot of wind but more like 17 – 22 knots. Cherry who is in charge of the office at the park announced a pot luck lunch at the house for 2pm. It was nice to get off the boat and get to know the other cruisers in the park.
Cruisers getting to know one another.
Hoku helping herself at the potluck.

We were doing these various jobs for the park because they very much needed the help, but also because they will not charge the $30/day mooring fee if you help or at least give you a discount. So the men continued with more trail clearing and Robin and I organized the DVD's by categories that they rent for $2 a night. Our job did not take as much time as the guys, so we girls including Kate on Makana and her 12 yr. old daughter, Hoku, went snorkeling not far from the ranger station in the mooring field. 
I loved the blue and yellow angel fish.
Hoku exploring the bottom.
The current once again was stronger than we liked so we went into the beach area for a swim. 
We ended the evening with a winter solstice happy hour. We just had to celebrate the shortest day of the year! Any reason for a party!

The next day I did some baking of cookies for Christmas and finally got some internet at the one corner of the ranger station, so I got email to come in and go out. A pretty good feat for this area!
That evening we had a dinner for Cherry on Makana. I took a pork tenderloin and roasted veggies as well as some cookies which Kate contributed also. Rick made a delicious leek pizza and Robin and Corbett brought a pork roast as well as a delicious salad. 
A great meal for Cherry.

Two pork dishes but lots of left overs!
We feasted and then taught Cherry how to play 'Sequence.” It was a fun time and Cherry who is Bahamian works in the office 7 days a week and holidays and holds special gatherings for the cruisers, so this is our way to say thanks.

Getting ready to trim the trails.
Robin and I worked with the men the next day at the trails further away from the ranger station getting there by dinghy and landing on some beautiful beaches. 
The trails were in very bad shape. We often could not quite figure out what way the path went, but they chopped and we picked up the cuttings and built cairns when it was hard to tell which way to head. Al and I had never been on these trails and so we got to see the ruins of a house from long ago.
The ruins of a former house from long ago.
Robin looking at a deep well.
We also saw a lot of large holes filled with water which looked like wells. We were wondering if this is how the park got its name, Warderick Wells.
Later that evening we had Lisa and Ben from Saraid over for happy hour. They have a Bristol 35.5 so we had to compare stories about our boats since ours is a Bristol 41.1.

The next day we actually did some “Bristol Hopping “ with the 3 Bristols in the park, another couple on a Bristol 29, Lisa and Ben and us. We started on the 29 footer, moved to the 35.5 and ended on our 41.1. I must say, I appreciate my boat more now than I ever did. And I thought our boat was getting small! Try doing it on a 29' from Canada!
Our Bristol buddies leaving Blue Heaven.

It was a very different Christmas eve for us. In the past we usually share it with one or two couples on our boat, but this year, Robin wanted to do a eggplant parmesan dinner for the park workers and the defense force men who are stationed here. I took spaghetti and Kate and Rick on Makana made his speciality pizzas. There were about 16 people. All had a good time, and as you can see all the men lit up their cigars after dinner while we girls went up stairs and played “Sequence.”
The men enjoying their after dinner cigar.  Give me a cookie any time!

Christmas day began by me making a candied butternut squash recipe to share at the 1PM Pot luck. The park provided the ham and turkeys and stuffing, while the eighty or so cruisers brought the side dishes and desserts. What a feast it was! 
Lots of good stuff!
And look at the view we have while eating our dinner. 
What a view!
 It doesn't get any better, other than being with family. However, the cruisers are so friendly, it is like being with family. 
Mark from Truant entertaining us.
One gent brought his guitar and we had entertainment after we had a game where the person with number 1 goes and picks a gift and unwraps it. Then number 2 can either take the gift that number 1 has or pick from the tree. If he takes number 1's gift, then number 1 gets to pick another. It continued that way through 45 gifts! 
Those who have already gotten their gifts seeing if they will be taken by another.
You never knew what you were going to end up with until it was all over. It was fun. I ended up with some nonstick sheets for baking. After much of the commotion was over, I got a call out to our family at my sister's and a call to Al's mom, both which we lost connection, but at least they know we were thinking of them.
My elf enjoying his Christmas meal.

Cherry and Corbett at the Christmas Feast.

The next day we headed south even though the wind was on our nose, but more than a week in one place is enough. We went to anchor off of Pig Beach at Big Major. We only stayed the night and then headed 10 miles further south to Black Point where I could do laundry and we could get rid of trash and get free water. Also, internet is much better, so better communications. We are looking forward to heading back to Staniel for the New Year 's Regatta. They have activities starting Wednesday so we plan to be there.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Us and a little piece of Paradise!

We left the beautiful Berry Islands behind and sailed to Nassau for a quick one day stop.
Atlantis on Paradise Island, Nassau
 We got there passing by the famous Atlantis Resort and fueled up and headed to Nassau Harbor Club Marina. It was a whirlwind afternoon to get two loads of laundry done, over to Fresh Market to get needed produce and other forgotten things. Next time I won't forget canned mushrooms, they cost me $3.99 for a small can! We showered and met up with Corbett and Robin for a nice dinner at the East Villa Restaurant which is a nice Chinese Restaurant.
Enjoying our last restaurant meal that isn't Bahamian!
 After dinner I was hoping to do my blog, and when I went to put the hot spot on the Ipad to use our computer, the hot spot button was not there! Frustrated, I went to bed.

The next morning we were planning on leaving but because it was showery it gave me time to go to the Batelco office which opened at 8am and within 10 min. one of the young gurus had the hot spot button back. I then went to Starbucks to work on the blog but could not get connected to their wifi there even though others were on. I gave up went back to the boat and did my blog using the hot spot. The captains were wavering due to the squalls, but finally around 11am we left to cross to the Exumas.
Blue Heaven underway.
 Leaving so late we did see the sunset while out there and got into the anchorage shortly after dark. We had never done that before but we knew at Shroud Cay there were no coral heads and we knew two boats were anchored over there. We headed toward their mast lights and were in for the night.

The next day we decided to move on because there was some swell at Shroud which made it a little uncomfortable. Robin and Corbett on Cookie Monster like to find conch, fish and lobster, so we headed past the Land and Sea Park to Pipe Creek where they could do those things. I was not opposed because this is one of my favorite spots. As we had a great sail down we kept missing the rain squalls. But just as we were getting closer to Pipe Creek it poured raining but the wind only got to 21knots which wasn't bad. Now we had a well washed boat!
Cookie Monster entering Pipe Creek.

It is not on land, but in a slot of water in back of sandbar.

We entered the creek from the bank side and anchored just past the narrow cut of two cays. What a beautiful sight! We were the only boats in the creek other than this powerboat who is always there.  The owners come every once in awhile. We have never seen it this empty. Most people were still in the states waiting for a weather window.
First treasures found
Mid afternoon we went over to the exposed sandbar searching for sand dollars. Eagle-eyed Robin found 12 and I found 8. A pretty good haul for our first day of hunting.

The wind picked up and blew through the night. Then it poured raining. I had taken some Nyquil because of some sinus pain, so I was really out of it but I awoke and said to Al, did he close the hatch over our heads? He said he had, so I went back to sleep, only to awake the next morning to find the end of my pillow soaked and the sheet and mattress as well. He closed it but did not latch it! So it was dry out time for the bedding and the rug on the floor.

We went off with Robin and Corbett to a beach where we knew there were trails to the outside beach. We found some sea glass, 2 heart beans (beans in a shape of a heart from trees in Africa and such) and some shells.
More treasures.
This is how the other half live!
After lunch Robin and Corbett went looking for conch and came back with three. They were exhausted so we just chilled for the afternoon and evening.While sitting in our cockpit, this sea plane comes right by our boat to let off some of the island dwellers to their home on the private island.

The next morning before one of the many showers came, we had a beautiful rainbow.  Usually you get them after the rain, but this one was before it!
A rainbow before the showers, however there were showers all around!

We found the lookout!
Afterward we took off in our dinghies to head to a beach to hike to a former submarine station. The subs did not come in there, but their communications base was there. We found the path and came to a cement wall at the water's edge with huge cleats. Cookie Monster knew a trawler with a couple who stayed here the entire winter last year tied up and they blazed a trail and made a look-out tower. We found it, and I climbed up to get  just another gorgeous view.
My gorgeous view!

No, I meant this was the gorgeous view!

Corbett relaxing from his long walk.

Back to our boats for lunch and we decided to sail back to Cambridge Cay which is in the no-take Land and Sea Park. Once again we are the only boats here. Neither couple have ever been here with less than a mooring field full of boats. We hiked once again to the beach where Corbett fixed a hammock left by other cruisers and then decided to take a rest.
 We lucked out with the rain. It seemed to be heading to us and then would break up or head south of us. You can see the rain clouds in back of us in this picture.
Hiking without get rained on!
We also hiked the trails that headed up to a high point. You can see the rocks below which are some of the highest we see in the Exumas.
The high cliffs at Cambridge Cay.

That night we had a wonderful Cracked Conch dinner on Cookie Monster complete with plantains and my pepper cabbage and fudge for dessert. We watched a Hallmark Christmas movie which ended the evening on even a sweeter note!

It dawned a bright sunny day so we headed to the trail near Kiss Cay. Al and Corbett brought their machetes to help trim up the trail that begins to get overgrown. The ladies pick up the fronds and throw them to the side of the trail. It was a long trail so by the time we got to the beach off of the Coral Gardens we were quite warm and went in to cool off. It felt so good!
Enjoying the crystal clear water.
The play side of Johnny Depp's Island
After lunch Corbett and Robin took us to see Johnny Depp's island. It looks quite nice but not ostentatious because he doesn't want to draw attention to it. He really wants his privacy.
Robin said that a lot of the furniture and water toys are new since last year. She thinks his wife of less than a year has perhaps made the difference.  The house was quite ordinary and I did not even take a picture.
Accommodations for the help.

These tents are for Johnny Depp's workers. Our friends know this because they befriended the warden at Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park who was hired to help with the security for the wedding  last year.

You can see part of fuselage and the wing. 
After going around Depp's island we went over a spot where a small plane went down. I don't know the story behind it. We were so close I could only get a section of it at a time in the photo.  The cable you see is tied to a mooring ball to mark the spot.

Another gorgeous beach!
They took us to another gorgeous beach for more exploring. We ended the day on Cookie Monster for Happy Hour and a fill of our water jugs. Cookie Monster has a water maker which makes more water than they can use which is very helpful to us!
Al looking for the fish and fans.
We stayed another day at this gorgeous spot and finally one boat came in, but anchored further down the anchorage. We worked on various projects in the morning and after lunch we headed to a spot called the “Aquarium” to do some snorkeling. Another dinghy was there on one of the two mooring balls with seven young people snorkeling. Their boat was anchored on the other side of an island which we could not see. The tide was going out which made for some strong current but once you got into the cove it wasn't too bad. Here are some of the sights.

Sergeant Majors with their stripes.
One of the more colorful fans.

I believe a damsel fish.

We saw lots of Sergeant Majors, male and female parrotfish,, a damsel fish, a moray eel, angel fish, some tiny brilliant blue fish and others that I am not sure of their names. Every time I tried to get a picture, they would always turn away, so you see the tails of most of them!

After snorkeling we headed to do some exploring with the dinghy. 
Neat sand ripples in the empty pond.
 We found this one entrance and went in and anchored. We decided to walk in and find out what was there. It was another pond which was mostly sand due to being low tide.

 Robin enjoyed riding the current going out to our boats. 

Robin enjoying a float down the stream.

We also went to a beach where cruisers often gather for happy hour. There were loads of baby conch empty but it is a no take zone in the park. 

Young conch hoping to survive to adulthood!

While there, we saw stingrays, a small shark and a turtle. 
Who ever said turtles are slow, try catching a picture of one!
We certainly got our fill of nature for the day.

Later, Robin and Corbett came for another game of “Sequence.” Finally the girls had their win. A fine day it was! We are heading to Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park tomorrow to go on a mooring through Christmas. We are headed to just another gorgeous spot but one where internet and phone connection are very minimal!