Exumas…Part Deux

In my last post, we left Highbourne Cay after a couple days hunkered down from 33 knot winds.  The weather was predicted to improve and good weather was in the forecast so we set out for a beautiful sail south to Shroud Cay. We made it to Shroud in great time, averaging close to 9kts!  Here’s the catch, Upside Up is almost 30,000lbs so to get her up to those speeds you need some real wind and we found it.  The 33 knots that we thought we left behind was only a brief pause.  That afternoon we decided to pick up our first mooring ball.  Still waiting for the weather to follow the forecast, we thought that was safer than our anchoring options.  I was extremely pleased with myself as I grabbed the mooring ball on the first try in 5ft seas (Yeah, me!)

Shroud Cay is one of the first islands in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The Exuma Land and Sea Park was created in 1958 and this 176 square mile stretch of the Exuma Cays was the first land and sea park in the world. It is famous for its breathtaking marine environment and the snorkeling is really good. We were really excited to get there.

Our first indication that something was amiss should have been that we were the only boat there. We just thought we were early! We optimistically waited for the seas to calm down to go explore the island. Well that never happened, the seas kept building and the winds were a howling.  Instead of calming down as had been predicted, the winds were actually stronger than the day before and we had no protection. It was a sleepless night bouncing up and down from the swell and worrying that if that mooring ball didn’t hold, we would crash in the cliffs behind us.

When we woke up the next morning, the seas were angry and the crew was rattled. After having my brain bounced around for the previous 18 hours and knowing that the weather was not going to improve enough, we decided to take a quick tour of Shroud and then find a more protected anchorage. We braved the rough seas with our dinghy and took a lovely tour of Shroud.

We drove through a mangrove river to the other side of the island to find the famed Camp Driftwood.  We searched secret beaches, climbed what is considered mountainous terrain in the Bahamas, 100ft hills, but could not find Camp Driftwood.  Unbeknownst to us, Camp Driftwood has either drifted or more likely blown away and not much is left.  Nobody has told the guidebooks though!  Overall Shroud was beautiful and we had the place to ourselves and loved our first taste of the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  We made a fast exit back through the island river as low tide was coming and we easily could have been stranded for hours. Trent proved that by lifting the prop and adding some speed we can become a bit of an airboat and can go in some amazingly shallow water.  Henry is also a strong believer that speed solves most problems in the dinghy.  Once back to the boat, we packed up and headed back north to the calm waters of Norman’s Cay.

After a perfectly calm anchorage, a perfect beach day with the team, and a better night sleep, the crew was back to our happy selves. Our next stop was south to Warderick Wells.

Warderick Wells was breathtaking. We had a great time snorkeling, hiking, paddleboarding, playing at the beach and enjoying cruisers’ happy hour at the beach.  This is the heart of the Exuma Land and Sea Park and it really shows what good conservation can accomplish. Just pristine! We would have loved to spend a little more time there, but work beckoned and without cell service and mediocre wi-fi, we had to find a cell tower so we headed on our merry way south to Staniel Cay.

Sunbathing…someday he will kill me

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