Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bahamas Part 2 - On the Exuma Bank

Hi from Clare,                                                               Thursday 17th May 2012

This week we have spent most of our time in Staniel Cay and Warderick Wells on the Exuma Bank. The Exuma chain of islands is on the eastern edge of a flat top underwater mountain. The bank is about 100 miles long and 40 miles wide with a water depth of 3-6 metres. . As you can imagine it is very smooth water and even with a little wind, some terrific sailing. This is the area we visited in 2004 whilst working on Pacific Dream. It was at Warderick Wells that I jealously observed a middle aged couple relaxing on their 40 ft yacht and though "that beats crewing; I wish it was us". So it is pretty special to come back now on Eye Candy to relax and enjoy the Bahamas.

Staniel Cay Yacht Club and its view
We once again snorkeled in Thunderball Grotto and walked around the little township of Staniel Cay. It was Sunday and most of the locals were attending church. Nothing much has changed in eight years apart from a few new houses and some improvements around the local pub and marina area. The local fishermen still gut their catch on the wharf and feed the remains to the sharks circling below. Near by at Big Majors Spots feral pigs still occupy the beach and swim out to the dinghies to be fed food scraps. You just have to be careful that they don't climb into the dinghy; best to keep your distance. Some brave people go ashore. Kortney from Norna went onto the beach to give the pigs some apples and one bit her on the backside.
Staniel Cay Sharks and Pigs at feeding time

We snorkeled at Thunderball Grotto the following day. The James Bond movie Thunderball was filmed here in 1964. The blue grotto is teaming with hundreds of tropical fish. They are often hand fed by the public, I looked around to find Andrew and he was immersed in a ball of tropical fish. There are lovely soft corals on the outside walls but the grotto is devoid of coral, probably collateral damage due to the huge number of visitors.

We are now at Warderick Wells at the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. We have been here for two days and snorkel each morning at slack tide in three metres of water just outside the park's headquarters. We found multiple lobsters under the rocks, stingrays, nurse sharks and just about every type of tropical fish shown on my "Fishwatcher's Field Guide". They are truly magnificent and we stay in the water as long as possible. We only get out because our skin starts to shrivel up.

Warderick Wells (Park HQ) Anchorageand the tribe goes to Boo Boo Hill

We walked the short distance to Boo Boo Hill which is the highest point on the island. Visiting cruisers are allowed to leave a piece of wood with their boat name and particulars. Some of the pieces are from people who return each year and so their piece of wood gets updated with the current year date. We saw one that read 2008, 09, 10, 11 and 12; lucky devils. There was one from Melbourne Australia with 8540 NM to go. We didn't leave one for Eye Candy; to me it felt like adornment.

Unfortunately the weather has been overcast for the past few days. On a sunny day the colour of the water is dazzling and I was hoping for some great photos. Let's hope we have better luck when we return from America.

We are with our cruising buddies from "Norna, Tactical Directions, Ventana and Innamorata". Last night Dee on 'Ventana' cooked pizza for the nine of us. We had a wonderful night and the pizzas were terrific. The night before we had Dee and Rob on our boat for dinner and tonight we are having Kortney and Pete over for a game of Rummy after dinner. We spend some time together each day or get together for a sundowner. It is wonderful to have some company with the option to be alone if you feel like a quiet one.

Boo Boo Hill memorabilia and the Mahi Mahi

The highlight of the week was catching a 3.5 kilo Mahi Mahi just before leaving the deep ocean water and coming onto the Exuma Bank via Dotham Cut. This was very good timing as fishing is not allowed in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. So we have had three lovely free fish dinners this week and consider ourselves very lucky. Just one of the many benefits of the cruising lifestyle!

At present Andrew is over on Tony's boat (Tactical) with Rob from Ventana consulting the charts to work out where to go for some diving. We will probably move to another island, anchor the four yachts in the shallow water on the Exuma Bank and take Tony's catamaran outside into deeper water for the dive. This will be wonderful as there are seven divers and plenty of room on the catamaran for all the gear. So hopefully next time I write you will hear about our diving adventures.

Love Candy xx

At 11:49 AM19/05/2012 (utc) our position was 24°31.70'N 076°47.81'W

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