Saturday, February 20, 2016

Shroud Cay to North Harbor, Warderick Wells

This morning it is time to move on.  First Bob checked out the generator system and, using jumper cables, it immediately sprang to life.  While the generator was running we used the power to charge the house battery banks and refrigeration plates, and the stove to fix a true cruising delicacy, scrambled eggs with sautéed onions and cheese with the last of the Bahamanian Coconut Bread toasted for breakfast.  At 9am we tuned into Channel 9 for Warderick Wells buoy assignments and received a mooring ball assignment for the north harbor of Warderick Wells for this evening.

Arriving at low tide we were amazed at how narrow the channel was, how brisk the wind, and that there was still a strong current with everything in the wrong direction.  Assigned Buoy 7, we quickly passed it in the current as there was no place to turn around.  Finding a wide enough area to turn followed by more radio chatter we were reassigned to buoy 12 but started to pick up 10 instead.  Realizing our mistake Peggy released the mooring buoy and it slipped directly under the boat and was in seconds wrapped around the prop.  Andrew, the park person, dove down to free the lines, and we ended up tied to buoy 10 without the bouy.  Lesson # 42; once you have a mooring ball, even if it is wrong, tie up and then re-think.

A pilot Whale skeleton.  It died from eating plastic.

We checked into the park office and the wind increased during the evening.  One cruiser anchored here told us that in the 15 years he has been cruising the Bahamas, this is the coldest and windiest winter he has seen.
Bobs foot which was infected from Bimini has been re-infected.  We began to soak it three times a day, apply topical antibiotic and bandages and Bob has been relegated to tennis shoes and socks with instructions to keep his feet dry.  Beaching the dinghy Peggy had to jump out to wade ashore and got her shoes and shorts wet!  And all these years she has been perfecting the dry exit only to have it dashed to save her husband from having his feet amputated.

K2F in North Harbor, Warderick Wells

Beachtails are at 5pm on Saturdays under the tiki hut near the park office.  Everyone brings something to share and their own libations.  Dave, the park service launch driver, supplied pizza!  I have never seen one disappear so quickly!  We met people from Harwich, Chatham and Pine Hills, Plymouth, MA and Marty and Susan Tuck off Allizon who are the 2016 Krogen Rendezvous chairs.  We thought we were coming down here to get away from it all but apparently that is not an original idea.

Nocturnal Hutia, a pineapple sized rodent native to the Bahamas, became bolder as the evening progressed.  With three inch hairless tails, round bodies and a boldness matched by all wild creatures fed by humans, they had to be chased off to keep them from being underfoot and after the crowd dispersed several climbed onto the picnic table.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Shroud Cay, Exumas

Brrrrrrr!  It was cold last night!  We have been sleeping in the pilot house with both doors open and the wind was whipping through the cabin.  Peggy was covered in two quilts and a polar fleece throw which kept blowing off.  Finally Bob closed one door which made the temperature much more comfortable. By morning the wind had moved to the east and as this anchorage is well protected from that direction it was much less bumpy than yesterday.  The morning air temperature was 75oF with 58% humidity so don’t ask why it felt so cold last night! Bob worked on the generator and battery system as the generator starting battery is not charging.  

Crepes topped with canned peaches were for breakfast!  Peggy reviewed charts and read about the nearest Cays and soon it was time for an adventure.  We packed up the dinghy essentials and headed out to the northernmost cut through the mangroves.  What a rough thirty minute ride into the waves and wind but this time Peggy wore a foul weather jacket. Bob was soon drenched with spray but grinning all the same. 
We found the cut entrance and motored upstream. 

Eastern outlet

Though it was not long after low tide the current was still flowing against us from Exuma Sound to the Banks.   As the channel wound around we were constantly searching for the deeper green water passages with Bob pulling the dinghy when it became too shallow to motor.  After many twists, a large horseshoe turn, and a quick sneak of a passing turtle, we arrived at the other side of the cay to cross a narrow channel with a lively inflowing current.  Rewarded by spectacular beaches, a wall of breaking surf and sandblasting wind, we climbing a small bluff for photo opportunities.  While we were lingering for views, photos and wading in the surf, four other dinghys of people from our anchorage boats arrived and left.  One group was a couple from Montreal with 4 children, one of which was 2 ½ months old.  Chartering a catamaran, they must really have wanted to evade the Canadian winter.  

East side of Shroud Key   

On the return trip we took the left fork instead of the right, meandering through a different passage which spit us out much closer to the anchorage with a lot less open water to bounce through for the return trip.  A fellow boater had told us about it.  Otherwise we would not have gone that way as the channel did not show on our Garmin charts.  Bob took his usual fresh water shower on the swim platform using sun warmed water from the hand pressurized garden sprayer while Peggy chose the more formal head shower.  With the wind howling through the superstructure we were happy that there is land between us and the boisterous east wind.  Dinner, dish washing and a sip or two or three of Vanilla liqueur filled our evening and another day in the Bahamas has come to an end.

Overview of Mangrove Swamp