Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Warderick Wells -We Have Made It To Paradise!

Monday morning brings a calm day with little wind or waves. The night had been one like I had imagined the Bahamas to be –flat calm and quiet and we both had a good night’s sleep- finally! We raised our anchor at 0630 and set sail for Warderick Wells – one of the many Islands of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.  

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was founded and is administered by the Bahamas National Trust and it extends 22 miles long by 8 miles wide and includes several of the Exuma Cays in its boundary – many of them private. The park has mooring balls to attach to – so as not to disturb the delicate ecosystem in the park- which they are working to replenish. This was the first time we had the opportunity of using a mooring ball – rather than hanging the anchor or docking at a marina. A new challenge! “What will I do?” I ask Cap. But he reassures me all will work out when we reach it. And it did! It was a piece of cake to pick up that line on the ball and hook our line to it. Of course, nothing could go wrong here – it’s Paradise!

We hailed the Park Ranger at 0800 – with no response. Apparently being a Park Ranger is like being a Bank Teller – great hours! The Ranger is available at 900 – and since we had not called ahead the day before (like s/v Narsiion) I was anxious that we needed to call first thing to secure a mooring. Narsiion had explained to us that there are only so many moorings and they et taken – They were 7th on the list. Yikes! And at 0900 Cap hailed the office…. And couldn’t get through! There were masses of people hailing the ranger – one after another – he never even heard us! Then I realized these were all people clearing out – they go first. Then the ranger takes the names of the vessels coming in – along with length and draft of the vessel and then assigns them a mooring. So after a few more calls to the Ranger – he acknowledged us and said “copy” (wait list). Then he said we could have mooring 1, 2, or 3 in the North end and after a little back and forth by the Cap – we ended up with mooring #6 – in a bit more protected area from the projected wind pattern for the next few days. Perfect!

On our approach to Warderick Wells we could see the water change from that deep clear blue to that electric turquoise. It was visually stunning! We quickly started learning to “read” this water- something that takes some mastering. What looks like 3 feet is actually 12 feet! The water is so clear and translucent it seems shallow compared to the water on the Gulf Coast. The effect is fantastic! We saw all variations of turquoise –from deep blue to light green – depending on depths and rocky or grassy bottoms. Cap took her off the Auto-Pilot and steered her into the entrance to the Mooring Field. It was really exciting!

Partners - on right - 2nd in
I was at the ready with our boat hook and it was easy to lift it up and attach our line. Yeah! We settled into our spot and then conquered the dinghy. I wasn’t as fearful, as the weather and water was beautiful with little wind – what could go wrong with those conditions? -The answer? - Nothing! Another easy job and down she went – how it should be every time – but for one reason or another is not.  And actually, getting the dinghy back up is the hardest job. We still have some work to do on that rig. Maybe when we get to the DR or Puerto Rico we will get a second hoist to replace the hand maneuvering winch we now have.

After we tied off the dinghy to our aft deck, we sat down and had a “celebratory” beer and a deep breath – and a good look around at this beautiful anchorage in Paradise. It is phenomenal! Words cannot describe the beauty. Think of every brochure or professional photograph of the Bahamas or Caribbean you’ve ever seen – and this is even better!

Warderick Wells Ranger Station
So after we said a prayer of thanks for such beauty and fortune of nature, we boarded our dinghy and took off for the Park Ranger’s office. We docked the dinghy at his dock and walked up the steps of the cypress stilt house. Out front – encased in glass – was the skeleton of a pilot whale – killed when it mysteriously got beached in 2010. Inside was the man – Andrew – who runs the whole show. He is young – 30’s and handsome. There are things to purchase all around and the funds go to maintaining this beautiful park. They have a lending library and a super collection of DVD’s to rent for $2/ night, as well as T shirts, clothing, coffee mugs and brick-a-brac.  We sign up for the mooring and tell Andrew we expect to be here a few days. There is a mail box to deposit your money or DVD when you leave. Andrew gave us the information and there was a trail map of all the trails one can walk on the island. Since this is a Park – there is no fishing or taking of any sea or plant life. They are trying to replenish the ecosystem, and there are many birds, and small lizards to see, as well as the Hutia – indigenous to the island – it is like a small rabbit or gerbil and is nocturnal.
A Bridge on one of the hiking paths

After an afternoon exploring the island by dinghy we returned to Partners in time to see the three sailboats we had left behind in Allen’s Cay, arrive together here – just like the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria!  And – as we are finding out – we make friends and we leave friends for our next port – but many of them we see again – along the way…  Maybe we will see them again – in Staniel Cay……

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