Norman's Cay to Warderick Wells Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Happy day — the weather is cooperating with us and we are heading south . . . AGAIN! When he heard the day's game plan, Skeet piped right up and said, “I’ll turn on all the instruments and get everything ready!”
Ron is operating the windlass on the bow that pulls up the anchor, while instructing Skeet to put KORKZcrew either in gear in the direction of the anchor chain, or in neutral to keep the anchor chain tension to a minimum as Ron brings in the anchor.
Steve started out at his usual post on the bow this morning, but once he realized everyone was upstairs on the flybridge, he wasn't having it. We've got a hard plastic set of portable steps on the bow that make this handoff a bit easier, and the handles on Steve's life jacket help a lot too. (Yes, Steve is a big baby 😂, but the good new is that I had absolutely nothing to do with creating that monster. As far as you know.)
Skeet (and Steve 😜) took the first shift at the helm and did an awesome job. The water and wind were so calm today that we went “outside”, which just means traveling on the ocean side of the islands. The conditions could not have been more ideal, and it only got better from there. Ron took advantage of the smooth ride and worked on caulking the leaky holes left from a captain's chair he deinstalled last summer.
When Skeet isn't playing captain, he's probably playing music — and sometimes even air guitar — on the bow. This is his favorite hangout by far, and who can blame him. What a peaceful spot for a passage when it's calm like this.
KORKZcrew arrived at Warderick Wells Cay around 10:45 a.m., and it was like arriving in a wonderland of absolute serenity and beauty.
Timelapse entering Warderick Wells from the ocean side
Entering Warderick Wells. We were in awe. It's just dropdead gorgeous everywhere you look.
Even Steve was impressed!
Warderick Wells has mooring balls available, and you just have to wait until you're within sight of the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park office to ask permission to tie up to one. This was very easy to accomplish on VHF Channel 9, followed by a short dinghy ride to the office to officially check in and pay for mooring ball.
When you can't stop taking pictures and videos and you've only made it as far as the Park office, you know you must be in trouble. 😂 (Translation: brace yourselves for farrrrrr too many pics. 😳Even AFTER editing many of them out! It could not be helped. 🤷♀️ )
Approaching the park's office
The dinghy dock
This is the eye-popping view from the park's office. KORKZcrew is moored way to the right in this video and out of view.
Skeet went back to KORKZcrew to get something we'd forgotten. I'm pretty sure we forgot stuff on purpose 😜 — any excuse to get OUT THERE!! KORKZcrew is in the middle of the three boats in the picture above.
From the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park website:
"Established in 1958, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is the first marine reserve in The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean. Covering 112,640 acres of land and sea, it is renowned for its breathtaking beauty, species biodiversity, secluded beaches, amazing views, and safe anchorages. Throughout the park you can explore the underwater magnificence of coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses, stroll along pristine beaches, traverse several hiking trails, and observe tons of wildlife including birds, fish, turtles and iguanas. ECLSP Wardens and RBDF officers, stationed at Warderick Wells, maintain constant patrols and surveillance of the park."
When you check in at the park's office, you can get maps for great snorkeling spots, as well as for a number of scenic trails.
With Ron's mantra being "Homey don't hike", I couldn't have been more surprised than to hear him vote for taking one of the scenic trails recommended on the Park's website: Boo Boo Hill Trail. So, the three of us set off for Boo Boo Hill Trail, the entrance to which is clearly marked on the beach just below the park's office, and ironically, moments later, Skeet got entangled in the underbrush, fell, and got .. a boo boo 😂. A minor one, but still, it felt like we must be doing it "right". Ron tried to join us, but much to Homey's relief (!!), the terrain worked its magic by being too rocky and jagged for his shoeless feet, so, feigning disappointment, he turned back, and Skeet and I pressed on . . . boo boos and all.
Almost to the summit!
The view from the top of Boo Boo Hill Trail Let me take this opportunity to say: don't be a "Homey Don't Hike"— definitely wear shoes, and enjoy the incredible reward of a 360 degree view from the highest point on the island. It’s as if we were seeing what a drone would see, and there was good ol' KORKZcrew just below us. It was stunning. And I'll also add that "hike" is a term I use loosely, because this was a fairly short and easy walk, with only one part that was a bit steep that honestly anyone could manage.
From the web: "You may be wondering how a place gets the name “Boo Boo Hill”. Legend has it that it’s named so because it’s haunted by souls of a ship that went missing in the surrounding reefs. During one stormy night, their ship vanished with every soul on board perishing. Some say the ship sank with all passengers on board, and other’s say the bodies are buried under the hill. It’s said on moonlit nights you can hear the spirits singing in the howling wind.
It has now become a tradition for visitors to leave a piece of driftwood behind with the name of their ship. It’s viewed as an offering to the God Neptune and the other sea gods for good sailing and safe passage. On top of the hill, visitors will see a pile of driftwood from past offerings."
Here's the view as you walk back down the path from the summit. See if you can spot KORKZcrew between the piles of driftwood:
The views on the way back DOWN the trail were equally stunning.
Once Skeet and I had gotten back to the boat, we swam a bit, and saw a barracuda who enjoyed the shade beneath KORKZcrew for most of the afternoon. There was also a really cute sea turtle that kept coming up to the surface nearby for a breath. Our mooring ball is just over a sunken wreckage of a boat hull which attracts a lot of sea life, and our best guess is that the wreckage was this little turtle's home.
See if you can spot the barricuda.
We chilled out most of the afternoon and just tried to take it all in. It's fun to notice the origin of the boats around us: a lot are from Canada, one was from Hawaii, and we also saw a few from Annapolis. You're supposed to fly both the flags from your country of origin as well as the Bahamian flag, and you can also usually determine countries of origin from the stern of each boat, where the boat name is displayed.
This afternoon, we took a dinghy ride around the area just to see what was around us, then stressed ourselves out with some MORE relaxing 🙄 on the flybridge.
If you're not throwing rotten tomatoes at us yet, have them on standby because the day just got better. Yes, better. (I know — It's ridiculous but true). At sunset, a man on a sailboat at the mooring just in front ours began playing a beautiful rendition of taps on his trumpet.
And JUST after that, it was almost as if all of the sea creatures and beauty of this serene setting came together at once and said, let’s put on a show for the Hobo Hesmers. We watched as eagle rays, sea turtles, and sharks (!) swam right by our boat. It was insane. We ended up chatting with a sailboat moored behind us who are here from Canada. They’d give us the heads up about which creature was headed our way. The whole experience felt surreal.
Chatting with our boat neighbors from Canada
Warderick Wells Cay is one of the most spectacular places we’ve ever visited. It will forever stand out in my mind as one of the major highlights of this journey. If the Exumas are on your radar for some day, make sure that Warderick Wells Cay is too.
2.5 hours underway; 17 nautical miles traveled