Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Windy Waderick Wells

Windy Warderick Wells

Jennie and I had great time in Waderick Wells, the headquarters of the Exumas Cay's Land and Sea Park. The park was set up in the late fifties to preserve the rare flora and fonna above and below the water. The park currently has two employees managing a few hundred square miles of protected area, and a couple hundred cruisers, of varying adolescent integrity, requesting mooring buoys and skirting rules. The other task they have, which is aided by 4 Bahamian military marines, is the constant fight against poachers, as the park is a no fishing zone, who are usually locals trying to make a living. We got a sense of hopelessness from park warden Darcy, she even let us know about a time they caught some kids on Facebook who had bbq'd an iguana (an endangered species) and caught a ton of fish and conch, there was outrage on the internet, the punishment was a $1000 fine. The park is one of these rare protected zones in a developing country with very little resources. They have signs up asking for rope, buoys, paint, dive gear, really anything one can donate. I'm gonna put it out there, anyone who has fat pockets or a job (most cruisers that come down here do not) donate something to the park, they desperately need help.

We had a wonderful stay here. We left Hawksbill Cay around noon, and motored through glassy still swimming pool waters for a few hours. We managed to pick up a ball in the north mooring field, the one everyone tries to get into, i think by luck. When we got to the anchorage, it was full except for our ball, lucky number 7. We went up to the office to check in, and grabbed our snorkel gear for a look at the reef. Wow what an amazing place to snorkel, in 7 to 10 ft of crystal clear water and tons of colourful coral and tropical fish. Jennie and I swam along, when I noticed Jennie swimming towards 3 big baracuda, their large round eyes fixed on us. They looked a little nervous, or maybe just cautious of these big flippered things in the water, or maybe they heard Dexter wining in the boat. We eased off and watched them and the fish for a bit and then climbed back into the dinghy.

Back at the boat we relaxed mostly, days slipped by, the wind picked up over 30 knots one day and we managed to sleep well in this protected anchorage on a sturdy mooring. We had aquatic visitors to the boat, a 9 ft nurse shark, a couple large eagle rays, and these funny looking bread loaf shaped fish. It got a little cooler through our stay and the winds were fairly rough, we had no need to leave our secured spot, so why venture out. Jennie and I hiked up to the top of Boo Boo Hill where we placed our piece of driftwood with Cypraea on it, among countless others. The only one I recognised was the Slapdash one. I guess a hurricane must have wiped out anything pre 2008.

The Exuma Sound looked rough, and the sky was ominously grey, squalls passed frequently while Jennie and I caught up on some reading. As by suggestion of my sister, I'm reading Don't Stop the Carnival, a book about a guy from the city who tries to run a hotel in the Caribbean. If any of you day dreamers are thinking about living down here or doing something similar, read it. There is more to the book than just humour, there's truth.

Dexter wasn't allowed on the park trails, just on leash on the beaches. We got around this by sand bar shuttle running. Dex loves this, but he will only run if you run; Jennie and I are being worked by our personal trainer. Dexter also loves running/wadding/almost swimming in the shallows, especially on the hot days. I also have to take him on dinghy rides as fast as it will go, he stands up with his elbows on the bow and a huge grin on his face, to the amusement of many passer bys.

On the Saturday night, the cruisers get together for sundowners on the beach. The military provides ice, which we didn't know, but for future reference. Free ice on a desert island, what a gesture. The gathering was very fun, and interesting. One thing about the islands is a lot of prejudice gets forgotten. There were the young cruisers, Jennie and I, and older cruisers, poor cruisers and cruisers with chefs, but everyone was sitting around the same table swapping stories and having fun. Jennie and I always get the question "how do you afford to do this at such a young age?" The most appropriate reply back is, "With the world as it is, and on the path it's going; how can we afford not to?" I must say that I have left a lot of my young cruiser prejudices behind, it doesn't matter how old you are, or how much money you have; everyone out here cruising is out here, living. I do think those who go fast pass so much good stuff and are missing out, and those that charter large motor yachts and seadoo around the anchorages are rude. However, they are here to spend money, where as cruisers are here to live, to experience, to rest. No one is really ever that open with why they are truly out here, but it definitely is good medicine.

Another event that occurred was an eye opener, and a reaffirmation of double up everything. On the radio we heard about a boat in Staniel's Cay losing their dinghy, a major bummer. Luckily Nassau has super cheap outboards, half of the north American price... the only cheap thing here. So if you plan on buying a new motor for your dinghy, wait till Nassau. Back to the story, so as a precaution we put a second line on our dinghy. Well one day Jennie says to me "The dinghy looks a little far back." What had happened was that after months of the stainless steel clip wearing on the aluminium eye, it had worn through about an inch and was free. Lucky we put on an extra line. So make sure you use the same metal to wear on each other; rope on rope, aluminium on aluminium, steel on steel. And no sharp bends. I fixed a rope using the stainless loops on the tubes, and it is working better. We now always keep two lines on, especially at night. A loose dinghy might float out and up to England here.

As usual, Jennie and I are itching to get moving again, we have a slight break in the weather where we will be going to Staniel's Cay. There are feral pigs, the Thunderball Grotto from James Bond, fishing is allowed again, internet, and some food. What a place it sounds like, we best make good of it while the winds stay down, back up to 30 Sunday (shutter) the wind not the temperature.

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