Monday, April 20, 2009

In the Exumas Land and Sea Park (Updated 5:00 pm 4/20)
Click here to see our location at the Land and Sea Park.

This is the coolest place. The park is the first of its kind in the world and covers 176 square miles. It is a no-take zone by both land and sea – nothing living or dead, can be removed from the park. So, there are beautiful small beaches, good snorkeling and hiking trails. They also have moorings that we can tie up to for $20 a night which is a great deal. Here is Rick in the dingy. Notice how clear the water is. He was in about 3 feet of water and you can see the bottom very clearly.
Below is Rickshaw at the mooring ball. The colors of the water are just amazing.

Yesterday we had a day at the beach. Our buddy boats are in the south anchorage and we are in the north so we met half way at a small beach and enjoyed being together again,hanging out on the beach and doing a bit of snorkeling. It is really beautiful here.

One thing we have forgotten to mention is the make up of the Exumas. We had expected lush islands full of palm trees and large stretches of beaches. Instead, the Exumas look a bit like the Maine or Rhode Island coast. Most of the islands are built on several feet of coral. While there are some palm trees it is, for the most part, rather ‘craggy’. You wouldn’t want to go walking around on many of the island without sturdy shoes. The shores are interspersed with lovely, small, white sand beaches. Some of these beaches you can bring your dingy right up to the sand but many of them have a fair amount of rocks or coral so you anchor out a few yards and walk in. While it wasn’t what we expected, it has its own stark majestic beauty.

The other thing that we didn’t expect is the lack of shells. There are the big conch shells but virtually no other shells are available for the shell collectors amongst us. A bit of a bummer but, hey, it is the Exumas, so there is no complaining here!!

We are using our water maker on a regular basis now. It’s a reverse osmosis thing and makes about 30 gal/hour, which is good, because unlike the U.S. where water is included with the dockage fee, if you want water at the marinas here you have to pay for it. It runs about $.40 - $1.00 per gallon, so a water maker is pretty much essential equipment here.
This afternoon, after getting the blog out, we dingied over to the park headquarters where our friends were all camped out trying to post their blogs. Where they were anchored it was a bit too far for them to get the internet so they came to headquarters. Anyway, after all that was done, the plan was to hike up to what is called Boo Boo Hill. On the top of this hill, boaters have put signs with their boat names on them and the date they were there. It was a tough hike so Rick didn't try it but Colleen from Gypsies in the Palace and I did and put up the homemade Rickshaw sign. On the way we saw a blow-hole. As the tide comes in it goes through a hole in the
rocks and shoots up into the air. Very cool!
Here is the gang working on their blogs and below the pretty blow hole.
Below are all the boards that boaters have left and Colleen and me at Boo Boo Hill with the Rickshaw board.
On the beach there was a skelton of a 52 foot whale that had ingested some plastic. Throwing plastic in the water is a big no-no. Sad that this happens.
We’ll be leaving here tomorrow to go about 14 miles south, which will take us about 2 hours, as the winds will die down on Tuesday for a day or two. They they are going to pick up so then we'll find the next safe harbor. More later!
Taking our time in the Exhumas

(This blog was written a few days ago.)

We are still anchored off of Norman’s Cay. This is a great spot but we have had to move the boats twice because of weather. We moved the first time because the seas were tossing us around like a carnival ride. We didn’t get much sleep that night and were just a bit cranky. The next place we moved to, about ¼ mile away was much calmer because it was closer to shore and protected from the seas. There are 5 of us, boats that is! We had a pot luck dinner on the beach that afternoon which was lots of fun.

We can get weather at 7:30 and 8:00 every morning on the VHF radio and the next morning we learned that a nasty storm was coming our way so we all pulled anchor and scooted into a cut that offered us better protection. Needless to say, lots of other boaters also heard the weather and the anchorage was quite crowded.

The first day we were at Norman’s, we all dingied ashore and walked to the local (the only!) restaurant called McDuffs. There we could get on the internet, 4 PC’s at a time, and we were able to post our last blog but not send any email because we all lost connection to the internet. This picture is of the restroom…really an outhouse with a large umbrella over it. You are supposed to change the sign around when it is in use. Below, the host, or McDuff, we aren't quite sure.

Getting email – YEA! Connected to the world

On Wednesday, 4/16, Tide Hiker, September Song, Lifes2Short and Gypsies in the Palace decided to head south to the Exumas Land and Sea Park. Rick and I decided that we wanted a few days to just chill…like we had planned for our Exumas’ trip! So, we said good bye to our friends for a bit and have been enjoying our lazy days.

Norman’s Cay has an interesting history. It was once under the unfriendly control of drug lord Carlos Lehder in the mid-80's. In fact, near our anchorage are the remains of a DC-3 that didn’t make it to the small landing strip, probably full of drugs. You can still see pieces of the fuselage and the wings. It is in about 3 feet of water! The island is private and they are rebuilding.

There is a tradition in the Bahamas amongst boaters that in the evening at sunset you give thanks for another beautiful day by trumpeting using a conch shell as a horn. It is cool to hear the boats participate in that. Unfortunately, one needs to have a conch shell to do so. Yesterday, Rick and I got in the dingy to find the perfect conch shell. There are plenty of conch shells around but they all have holes in them (which render them unusable for trumpeting). The reason for this is that folks eat a lot of conch down here. There is conch chowder, conch fritters, conch salad, conch steaks…you get the idea and the conch divers put holes in the shells to get the meat out. At any rate, we found a couple of beauties and now we will try to figure out how to make them sound like an instrument, no small feat I’m sure.

Just a funny…we think that we have a barracuda that is in love with our dingy. He is about 4 feet long and has hung around the dingy, which we are towing off the back of the boat, for several days now. We look out and see him every evening, not moving much just hanging close to the dingy. It makes us laugh!!
Yesterday morning we woke up to a weather report that said that we were going to have 20-30 knot winds for the next several days, BOO. We decided to weigh anchor and head for the Park where we could get some protection from the winds. It is beautiful!. The Park has a ‘social’ every Saturday night with the boaters in the anchorage, which is a nice thing, so we will be going over in our dingy with a bottle of wine and Rick Higgens’ famous ‘Fresh Guacamole Dip’!!

More about the park in the next blog...which will be posted in a few minutes. Since we don't have access to the internet very often, we need to get it all in!!