Even the worst photographer (me!) could not destroy the incredible scenery of the Warderick Wells, headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The harbour sits between a couple of islands, and all visiting boats moor in single file in a horseshoe shape wrapping around a sand bank in the middle. As all boats must tie up to permanent moorings, we knew we would be having a few comfortable nights here.
First on our agenda was to climb up Boo Hoo Hill, named apparently for the sounds made by the ghosts from a nearby sunken ship sunk. At the top of the hill we discovered a large pile of driftwood, each piece carved or painted with the names of the many hundreds of cruisers who pass through the area. This was definitely a great idea for an art project for the boys to complete during our stay, and would mean another excuse to climb Boo Hoo and take in the amazing views over the harbour, nearby islands and the Atlantic.
Despite being a little bit tired after our hill climb (definitely need a bit more exercise, our legs are not getting a great workout on the boat), we also managed to fit in a snorkel on 2 small bombies just off nearby Emerald Island, less than a mile dinghy ride away. The first bomby had a sleeping nurse shark which ignored us for a while before heading off. We are starting to get quite brave, with all of us staying in the water rather than scrambling in panic into the boat. The second bomby had a big grouper, and a not so nice (although very pretty to look at) Lion fish. Overall plenty of colourful fish and some pretty coral was found at both places.
The day finished with BYO drinks and nibbles on the beach at the weekly happy hour with about 10 other boats. This event occurs every Saturday and was a great way to meet other boaties and hear about their sailing adventures. Mostly Americans, but also South Africans, Swedish, Canadians and Irish. One couple had been cruising for 25 years! The boys took advantage of the free kayaks on the beach for a late afternoon visit to the now exposed sand bank in the middle of the harbour, collecting sand dollars which they wanted to exchange real dollars with us. This left us alone with the grown-ups and a cold glass of white wine – bliss!
Next day started with a snorkel in the harbour as the tide was perfect. The evening before a couple had mentioned the reef inside the bay was teeming with lobsters, rays and turtles. The previous day we had dinghied over it and thought it was mainly rock, so on their advice we thought we’d give it another go. How wrong we were – some lovely sections of coral, and our first lobster. Pity it is now April and off season as the one we saw was huge and would have made a lovely dinner for two!
After a quick morning tea, Max and I headed back up Boo Hoo Hill on a scientific field expedition. The path to this hill is through mangroves and the previous day we didn’t spend much time reading the information boards spread throughout the walk. This time Max took notes and will be writing up his discoveries on a poster. I certainly learnt a lot!
We’d had so much fun on the beach the night before we decided to take our dinner ashore. This time we met with a Brazilian family – Rodriguez, Rachael and their sons Bruno and Lucca. It’s amazing how easy it is to make new friends when you have been isolated for a while. They had been sailing on their catamaran ITACARE for about 10 months now, heading north from Brazil to spend the summer in the US, and had lots to share about homeschooling and their trip so far. Their boys are doing all the school work in English – I was in awe.
Our final day at Warderick Wells was spent with another trip to Boo Boo Hill to leave our mark on the pile of driftwood, and then about 3 hours with our new friends on the beach, learning about the best places to visit as we head south, as they were heading north and had plenty of tips to share.