April 16 , 2005
At the end of the last journal we had just sailed into the Exumas. We anchored in a lovely spot between Cambridge Cay, also called Little Bell Island on some charts, and Bell Island. We went through a cut called O'Brien's Cut and it was reasonably straightforward once you got all the rocks sorted out. When we anchored we had the light wind and the current going in the same direction. There were 5 other boats in the anchorage and plenty of room. At sunset two of the boats blew their conch horns and the rest of us applauded in our cockpits. That night the winds freshened from the north and as the current switched our boat started dancing and moving around in circles. The wind would catch us and move us one way and then the current would catch us and move us another. Chris got up to check the anchor and basically we were not putting any strain on it. But we did many 360s. Having two anchors down would have been tough.
We had good winds for heading south so we sailed on down to Black Point. It is one of the larger towns in the Exumas with 300 people living there. They do not rely as much on tourism yet they had a good number of boats anchored there. The harbor is very large with no current, but completely exposed to the westerly winds. We were able to get bread there but the supply boat was coming in 2 days and there was no fresh produce available. We walked to the northernmost part of the island and saw some beautiful rock formations. The rocks in the Exumas are so white and seem to add to the sparkle of the water.
We then sailed off to Staniel Cay and anchored at Big Major Spot. This again is an anchorage with no current but exposed to the westerly directions. The most amazing aspect of this anchorage was the number of powerboats anchored here. There is not much available dockage in this part of the Exumas, so anchoring is your only option at times. We had a 74 foot yacht anchored beside us, as well as a 124 foot yacht behind us. The power boats outnumbered the sailboats in this particular anchorage. Ashore in Staniel Cay there were a few changes, but not much considering we had been here 12 years ago. There were still the same 2 small grocery stores with the bare essentials. Again there was no fresh produce until the freight boat arrived. A new small complex of rental cottages was one of the few changes we saw. The docks could not accommodate many vessels but we did see one 200+ yacht alongside. As we dinghied around the stern we saw the transom opened up, like you would open a garage. Inside they had their "dinghy", a huge runabout with lots of horsepower. They also had jet skis, diving tanks and gear, snorkeling gear, and what amazed us most was an overhead turning bar (similar to what you see at a dry cleaner) with every style and size wet suit you could imagine. How's that for cruising in luxury?
Staniel Cay is also the location of the famous Thunderball Cave from the James Bond 007 movie. You must only dive there around slack because of the fierce currents. Slack happened to be at 5 pm for us and we left to get there a little early. Ahead of us were already several dinghies and as we tied up many more arrived. We all were very nice about giving people a chance to get into the cave and take pictures. Some people brought food in with them and they were surrounded by many, many fish. I put out my fingers as if I had food and several fish came up and "kissed" my fingers. It was so much fun. Chris took lots of underwater pictures here.
We woke up to south-southwest winds and Big Major Spot was getting uncomfortable. We decided to head either back to our Bell Island anchorage or try and get one of the coveted moorings at Warderick Wells. A little aside here, 25 years ago we anchored at Warderick Wells with one other boat. It was considered part of the Bahamian national park system but no one was stationed here. There was a hill that you could hike up to and leave messages in glass jars. 12 years ago the park had a ranger station and they had put in moorings. It was becoming more of an official park but still casual Bahamas. At present it is a very tightly controlled park. No anchoring is allowed in the mooring fields. At 9 am in the morning vessels vie for one of the mooring balls available. We were extremely lucky to get one of them on a day that perhaps 15 boats were trying to get into 4 available spots. Our length and draft made us one of the lucky ones. Once you get in you can stay as long as you like. It's $15 per night and there's lots of current, so it's very easy to enjoy being on a well maintained mooring. We are now here for our fourth night so you know we are enjoying it very much. There are many difficult trails to hike and a few easy ones. There are some spectacular diving spots. Since it is a no-take zone for sea and land creatures we have seen huge grouper, all kinds of beautiful fish, and lobsters just walking on the reefs.
I hope you're enjoying our adventures. We certainly are having fun sharing them with you. Till next time we wish you fair winds and smooth seas.
Pam and Chris
P.S. We have found it so interesting that our most reliable station to get our email through is located in Panama. Thank goodness for ham radio.