Saturday, 14 March 2015

Wyuna March 2015 Blog  - At last Bahamas & Exuma Land and Sea Park  

Sail, Sail away.  At last we arrive, 3 Feb in The Exuma islands, 365 pristine cays of protected reefs- stretching nth to sth some 90 miles, mostly uninhabited, where friendly Bahamians live in small towns encircled by crystal water, shifting sand banks and edged by limestone rocks and beaches.

In our 6 weeks of cruising here, we like the wake-up call of water lapping, seeing the last of winter winds and rain & the SUN is now beaming, 28c.  Most days we watch the sundown, then the northern stars arise as they fill the night sky, til Wyuna is a speck in the sea.

Our stops along the way ………………………………..Allan’s Cay .    24 44 74 N     76 50 91 W

On our first snorkel underwater the brown rock iguanas watched us standing still on the beach, while we flippered the reef edge. One of the last remaining protected habitats. We anchored close to shore, then the winds blew up to 30kn for 36hrs (yes cabin fever on board).

 Highbourne Cay

The cruising guide said high-end luxury resort/marina so we anchored out and dinghied in seeing nurse sharks below; to have a leisurely lunch looking across the Exuma Sound island chain. Exquisite as far as our eyes could see to the horizon.

Exuma Land and Sea Park- Bahamas National Trust replenishes and supports marine nurseries.

A gentle sail, 17Nm run to Shroud Cay was serene, picking up a mooring buoy with 0.2 m under the keel at low tide. Tactical Directions & us jumped in the dinghies to explore the Sanctuary Creek “mangrove sea park & nursery channels” and to puttered to the windward side.

Hog Cay

A motor sail inside the banks, sunny blue skies and emerald water made for a very relaxing day til we tried to enter the short shallow route to moorings. No way! Backing off to go the long route between narrow entrances with big currents , making our entry to Hog Cay - Bruce’s nerves twinged looking at the reefs in crystal clear water which looked too shallow but had half metre under the keel.

To unwind we had sunset drinks on the beach close to Pirates Lair – the meeting, hiding place, of Blackbeard, Mary Read and Anne Bonney pirates of the 1700’s which the cays are named after. We met & took our first reef dive with Rory & Mary, on Spyhop in the harbour.

Our return to Little Bell island, inspired by last year’s adventures, with TD & Spyhop, for 4 days we lived in awe of the marine life underwater- drift snorkelling in a large channel, submerged amongst 100,s of bright reef fish, hiking across trails to a wild beach to snorkel large Elkhorn coral heads and after 3 attempts found a seaplane wreck from a drug delivery gone down.

Reluctant to leave the park, we waited for a weather window to take the shallow inside passage sth. Headsail only up, with a 17knt NNW breeze, we drifted down wind with the fishing lines out to make our ETA.

Staniel Cay
 A popular stop for cruisers is Big Majors, the home of big spotted pigs of all sizes roaming the beach.  A small town/resort plus local Bahamian lunch café with conch burgers & cold lime beers went down well.  But we lived inside most days while 25kn Northers blew through. Dinghy rides got rough.

We met Sandringham SYC sailors off Gem, Mv and Shane next to us on anchor, friends of Tony & Michelle.

Ovens Rock

Next we took the Garmin/Active Captain route with Gem & TD to a quiet anchorage, Oven Rock, to walk ashore on limestone, snorkel on small reefs and escape. Gem showed us Ty’s beach bar by dinghy, Waaaaas   sooo  much fun relaxing looking out to water, trying Goombay Splash & conch fritters while laughing at stories of big winds and shark spottings.

Great Exuma Island- Georgetown. After a dayhop sail to this hilly township, we are in a boat village of YES, 350 cruising boats anchored off-shore.   We listen to a daily 8am vhf cruisers net which covers: sailing regatta events, gas & fuel, volleyball at Chat n' Chill beach bar, shops & dentist information etc. - a big change.

We had farewell drinks and a BBQ, with Michelle & Tony our sail buddies, to share our experiences of the season before she flew home to Sydney, after deciding not to sail the next leg- we miss her lots!

Tony asked us to crew TD ( Crowther 42 Cat) for the Saturday race around the island, with MV, Shane and Kurt we tacked, reached, ran, called buoy room on a 58ft Catana, and laid the waypoint mark to finish 3rd over the line - what a great day ! 

We gathered guides at a beach meet of Cuba cruisers, tomorrow go to a music festival and provision supplies to sail sth, 100 miles along the Jamentos uninhabited islands, next week, til we get a weather window for our 70 mile crossing to  Porta de Vita , Nth coast of Cuba- here we Go & Come!!!!!!

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