07 – 17 Jan 2014: Highborne Cay to Warderick Wells – 24 23N 76 38W
We took advantage of a light southerly wind to cross the Exuma Sound. We exited Rock Sound on Eleuthera via the Davies Channel and headed west, the wind was on the beam, the seas flat and we had a great sail to Highborne Cay on the Exumas, all part of the Bahamas.
We entered through Highborne Cut at slack water and with moderate wind but as with the other cuts we have ventured through the currents are very lively, kicking up lines of white water where the deep waters from the sound meet the shallows of the bank.
Whirlpools are a common sight in and around the cuts, the oil slick like water on top entices you in then steerage is sometimes lost as you surrender to natures forces and hope you get spat out the other side and not sucked down to meet invisible sea monsters!
We rounded the corner to a small anchorage off a pocket sized secluded beach and anchored next to our friends on Koza who had sailed down from Nassau. It was a magical scene, cloudless skies, crystal clear water, white sands, palm trees, tiny islands all around us, perfect sunset, but we knew this picture was about to change as we had come here to sit out the next cold front and accompanying north west winds.
We bounced around for the next 36 hours as the winds apposed the tides and currents, but our life is so weather dependant we just have to make do. Gradually the wind clocked to the north east, we had much better protection, the seas started to calm once again and life returned to normal.
We even ventured out on a snorkelling expedition, disappointing overall but we have seen an array of outstanding underwater life over the years it now takes so much to meet our high expectations.
FOUND: The Most Beautiful Beach – Ever!!!
We moved on down the Exumas chain to Shroud Cay, not such an appealing anchorage but the island itself is a labyrinth of white sand, clear water mangrove creeks that beg to be explored. We have never seen such a clear inland water way and the bright white sand was outstanding, we thought we had seen the best, then we came out onto the ocean side and WOW!!!
Can It Get Any Better?
We arrived around 11am (access is only via the creek on a rising tide) and the beach was empty, not another footprint, definitely no other humans, no rubbish – just totally pristine and stunningly beautiful. About 10 minutes later Jim and Carola arrived in their dinghy and the 4 of us explored this incredible spot.
We spent a few hours enjoying the solitude in this stunning location then navigated our way back through a maze of mangroves. Carola had been smart enough to bring her iPad and the creeks were charted quite accurately – we just followed them and eventually popped back out close to the anchorage.
Can It Get Any Better? – well Yes It Can !!!!
We moved on the following morning another 20 miles south to Warderick Wells in the Exumas Land and Sea Park. We had been told by our Dutch friends on Bodyguard that the Northern Mooring Field was the best place to be, so along with them and Koza we booked a mooring and headed on down.
But there was just one problem!!!
Although the mooring and most of the channel had enough water for us there were a couple of spots that didn’t so we were given an outside mooring until high tide, then offered one inside the lagoon – but entry “at our own risk!!”
As we arrived to pick up our outside mooring our very good Australian friend Tony off Tactical Directions came zooming out in his dinghy to help us tie up. We have known Tony since Darwin in 2006 and have travelled many miles in his company, including cruising the coasts of Oman, Yemen and Eritrea, most recently we left the Cape Verde Islands with him to cross the Atlantic Ocean. We had not seen him for 2 years and it was great to reunite and catch up.
We waited all afternoon for the water level to rise, but with beach Happy Hour fast approaching we nurdled our way in before high tide. It’s a very narrow channel bordered by sand bars, the sliver of deep blue water is cluttered with evenly spaced moored yachts, sitting like little ducks in a row at mercy of the swift current. But we made it, without incident – with everyone watching us!!!
My supply of adjectives is failing, we both agree that this is the most beautiful tropical anchorage we have ever been in. This natural lagoon area has the softest, whitest sand and there are many very shallow sand bars. Because of the whiteness of the sand and the shallow water the colours are amazing, bold and vibrant and every possible shade of blue imaginable.
It is a very special spot and we did not tire of just sitting looking at its changing beauty each hour of the day as the sun moved around, and the moons reflection on the barely submerged sand bars at night made them glow in the dark, well … the whole experience was priceless.
Part of the charm is the fact that it is National Park, so no hotels – no even a shacky beach bar, and it is too far from anywhere for day tripper tour boats. There is just the Park Headquarters and us very lucky cruisers.
More Magic Under the Water
Although the snorkelling in and around the lagoon was disappointing (mainly because it is mostly sand) we were treated to an amazing underwater spectacle. Several rays seemed to live close to our mooring and from the boat we could watch them pass by below us.
We swam above them several times, watching them glide by below us was somehow ”other worldly”. We came back down to earth though when we spotted the sharks, I left skipper with the camera and headed straight for our boarding ladder!!
A couple of times we were lucky enough to be looking the right way at the right time and saw a ray come flying out of the water, airborne for a couple of seconds before dive bombing back under water …. maybe the sharks were hunting dinner.
We had just the best week here, we were back in a cruising community. In addition to Koza, Bodyguard and Tactical Directions we also met Kiwi Jean and Aussie Bill on Out of the Bag, it was a busy social scene with happy hours on the beach, pot luck dinners, kayaking excursions and even morning exercise “boot camp” with Michelle off Tactical Directions cracking the whip and getting us into shape!
pot luck dinner on Out of the Bag – Dennis & Ank (Bodyguard) Carola & where’s Jim? (Koza) Michelle & Tony (Tactical Directions) Jean & Bill (Out of the Bag)
Holiday Over ….. Time To Go Cruising Again!!!