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Saturday, April 7, 2007

01 APR thru 07 APR 07: Warderick Wells, Exuma Islands, Bahamas

GPS Position: 25°23'.106N: 76°37'.515W

We moved the boat today to Big Major’s Spot, which is about a 20-minute dinghy ride north of Staniel Cay. We left this morning about 1000 EST and made the 2 hour and 15 minute trip from Black Point. Although Big Major’s Spot is only 6 miles away as the crow flies, one must travel about 17 miles around the shallow grounds to get there. We arrived, and were settled, by 1230 and spent the balance of the day cleaning and polishing the boat. Tomorrow, we’ll go over to Staniel Cay, go exploring and mail some letters to the States.

This morning, we were up, in the dinghy and on our way to Staniel Cay and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. We all tied up to the dinghy dock and wound our way through town to the local post office. There, Kay mailed several post cards and we mailed our letters. We did some shopping and Chip and I found a place where a guy was working on a Bahamian Sloop for the forthcoming regatta and watched him work for about 20 minutes. The it was back to the dinghies and over to Thunderball Grotto to do some snorkeling.

The grotto was pretty neat and looked just like it did in the James Bond movie that is its namesake. From there, we went back to the boat and collected some old food items and headed for the beach and the pigs that live there.

As promised, the pigs all swam out to greet us. The one thing we wern't told, however, is stay in deeper water when feeding the pigs! The photo below was taken just moments before the 200 lb. hog vaulted into the dinghy and damn near sank us as he thrashed around in the dinghy, biting everything (including
Kim's finger) in his quest for food. Needless to say, it was quite exciting!

The 3rd, we moved to the Sampson Cay Club Resort & Marina. We arrived about 1115 and anchored out in the harbor. Kim and I went into the marina and explored a bit and met Chip & Kay at the restaurant for an ice cold beer. We then explored the resort complex and walked the docks, looking at the high dollar mega-yachts that were docked at the club. We all went back to our boats, had dinner and called it an early night.

The next day, after breakfast at the resturant with Chip & Kay, Kim and I went exploring the surrounding waters in the dinghy. During our 8-mile journey, we found that we could have dinghied back to Big Major’s Spot in about and hour. We went about three miles out to a pair of islands called Twin Cays and found a small island with a beautiful beach, that had a long defunct bar and volleyball court built on it.

Next, we motored over to an island called Wild Tamarind Cay, which was covered with tourist type homes, a small airstrip and possibly a road.

Then, we went to an island called Over Yonder Cay and found some of the most beautiful anchorages we’d ever seen. The water was a surrealistic shade of blue and you could watch individual fish swimming on the bottom, 60 feet below. What a great spot!! Then it was back to the bar, then the boat, then dinner and bed.

We left Sampson Cay around 0800 and were on our way to Compass Cay. It was another short run, so by 1100, we were snug as could be in the Compass Cay Marina. The Cay is privately owned by a Bahamian gentleman who is very environmentally conscious and the place is clean as a whistle.

Chip, Kay, Kim and I all went ashore and walked the island from one end to the other. There are rental homes, walking trails, an electrical generation station, a recycling center and all sorts of signs to identify the local flora and fauna. But enough of this exercise! We went back to the boat and discovered we have really good Internet here and we plan to spend the rest of the evening answering e-mails and, maybe, working on the website.

On the 6th, we spent another relaxed day in Compass Cay. The people here are so nice and the place is so clean that it's hard to believe it really exists. We went ashore and had lunch at the dock site restaurant and watched the feeding of the nurse sharks in the harbour. It was really quite impressive to watch how tame the sharks seemed. But, I don't think I'd want to try it.
We departed Compass Cay Marina around 1030 EDST and headed towards Warderick Wells and the Exuma Land Sea Park. The total trip will be 13.83 nautical miles, although the ”as the crow flies” distance is only 8.8 nautical miles.

The Exuma Cays Land Sea park is one of 25 National Parks managed by the Bahamas National Trust. In 1986, the Trust made the entire 176-square mile park a no-take fisheries replenishment area. This means that NOTHING can be removed from the park area unless one wants to spend a long time in a Bahamian prison. Not a pleasant thought on any level!

At the park, we were assigned a mooring and BESO is on the ball right next to us. Once moored, we all went by dinghy to the park office on Warderick Wells Cay. We both registered with the park office, where you pay for your stay up front with either cash, check or credit card.

While ashore, we all toured part of the island where the park office is located. Except for the office complex area, the island is unspoiled and everyone is careful to leave it just as nature made it. We also made the walk up Boo Boo Hill and left an obligatory piece of driftwood, with our boat's name on it, on the stack of so many others who came before us.

With this mission accomplished, it was back to the boat and by 1830 we had kicked back and made ready to watch a little satellite TV and relax for the rest of the evening.

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