Saturday, February 18, 2017

Warderick Wells

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Today, we head for Waderick Wells, the headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.  This is one of the high points of the trip, and we have been eagerly looking forward to it.  Yet its hard to imagine how anything could be better than all we've already seen and experienced!

The wind was out of the East, coming directly off of Shroud Cay, and the moorings were arranged in a staggered line parallel to the shore.  I looked at that and thought "Let's try and sail off of the mooring without using the engine!"  We had never attempted anything like that before, but it looked like the ideal time to try.  It LOOKED to be straightforward.

And it was!  We got the main up, cast off the mooring lines, and fell back, letting the wind fill the main, and we were underway! As we turned downwind and accelerated, we were easily able to clear the adjacent boat. It looked like we knew what we were doing!  I was elated with our success.

We quickly got the jib up and were under full sail, making better than 5 knots.  We were able to hold this about halfway to Warderick Wells, where the narrow approach into the harbor required turning up into the wind and starting the engine.

The northern mooring field at Warderick Wells is a sight to behold. A narrow (and I mean NARROW) channel of navigable water snakes close to the shoreline on one side, and a large sand flat on the other side.  Its barely two bost lengths wide!  And the moorings are strung in a curving row right down the middle!  Under normal circumstances, I would have NEVER even attempted to enter such a channel, let alone anchor there!

Narrow Mooring Field: The Thin Blue Stripe
So, in  we went.  The positions of the moorings means you have to decide which side to pass each moored boat on.  And the sun was ahead of us, so we couldn't read the water depth from the color.  Of course, I chose one wrong, and we ran aground softly in the sand. It was easy to get off, and I learned that you have to pass within spitting distance of each moored boat!

We picked up our assigned mooring ball (#11) without further incident.  It was amazing.  Our stern swung to within less than a boat length of the rocky shore on one side, and similarly to the sandbar on the other side!  Yet we remained in plenty of depth.  But there would be no sailing off of THIS mooring!
Dolce Vita Moored at Waderick Wells
Once on the mooring, we lowered the outboard onto the dinghy and puttered around the anchorage meeting some of the other cruisers.  Since it was Sunday, the park office was closed, so we couldn't check in until Monday morning.

Monday, February 13, 2017

We dinghy'd ashore to the ranger station's dock to register and began our exploration.  At the station, we bumped into Nick & Rachel (M/V Sandy Gal II) who we had met in Bimini.  They joined us in a walk on one of the trails up to Boo Boo Hill.

Boo Boo Hill is one of the highest points on Warderick Wells.  The legend is that on a calm night, you can hear the wailing of the lost souls that were shipwrecked on the reef.  Or maybe it's just the wind whistling through the jagged rocks. In any event, cruisers leave a token atop Boo Boo hill with the name of their vessel in order to appease the spirits to grant them a safe passage.

Over the years, an enormous mound of driftwood has accumulated, inscribed, painted or woodburned with the names of countless cruising boats.
Mound of Markers
We were unprepared for this tradition, and vowed to return after cobbling together a suitable marker.

While we were up there, we bumped into our mooring neighbors Ron & Phoebe, also out on a hike.
"Next Door" Mooring Neighbors Ron & Phoebe of s/v Noodin.
All along the trails, there are countless curly-tailed lizards. They seem quite unperturbed by humans, allowing them to pass quite close before scurrying away, and then not very far.
Curly-Tailed Lizard
After returning from the walk, we went snorkeling on one of the small coral beds inside the harbor called "The Ranger's Garden". The park provided miniature dinghy moorings so you wouldn't tear up the bottom by anchoring.
More coral
A Seargent Major
A Yellow & Black "Rock Beauty"
That evening, we had Ron & Phoebe over for sundowners.

It was a long and fun-filled day.  We slept well that night!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Today was a work day.  When we left Dolce Vita in Florida for a month at Christmas, she started growing some alge just below the waterline because we weren't moving her every day.  This had gotten steadily worse until it looked like we had a green beard.  The bright green filaments were over an inch long! 

And its stubborn stuff to remove.  It took the two of us all day, lying in the dinghy alongside and using scrubbrushes to remove it.  But the waterline is now nice and clean, and the reduced drag will let us sail better, and burn a little less fuel when motoring.

Afterwards, we scrounged up a broken piece of a wooden cutting board in one of the lockers, and Joanie produced paint and markers and worked her usual artistic wonders creating a marker for us to place on Boo Boo Hill.

Ron & Phoebe had us over for sundowners that evening.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The cold front we were waiting out is passing through today.  It brought with it lots of wind, and scattered rainshowers.  The water was churned up and the snorkeling wouldn't have been any good, so we spent a lazy day reading.  Late in the afternoon it cleared up enough to make another hike up Boo Boo Hils to place our marker and appease the spirits.  One can't be too careful! ;)
Our Marker, with Dolce Vita in the Background

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our last day here.  The weather was still a bit overcast and a bit cool for snorkeling.  We tried using a lookey bucket (a 5 gallon bucket with a clear plastic bottom) from the dinghy (called "bucketing") to view the bottom, but things were still too stirred to see much. Along the way, wt stopped and talked with Mark & Cindy of s/v Cream Puff.  They had been moored near us at Shroud, but we hadn't met them then.

In the end, we went back ashore and took a longer hike along the Causeway trail to the southern part of the island, seeing sections of shoreline and part of Banshee Creek that we had not seen before.  The scenery continues to be incredible.

We are having the time of our lives.
Happy Cruisers
Tomorrow morning, we will depart for Cambridge Cay, which is also in the park, but totally untouched by any human constructions.  We hope to meet up there with our friends Bruce and Gayleen aboard s/v Pearl, who will show us some good snorkeling spots.

Life is good!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all your excellent photos and descriptions. I can't tell you how I envy you!