Sunday, April 12, 2009

Heading to Warderick Wells

Chris here... We had a wonderful Easter today. The kids slept in (which is always nice on a holiday) and then woke up to find that the S.S. Easter Bunny actually found us in the Bahamas! They followed the candy trails to their decorated Easter Baskets and enjoyed piling up a ton of chocolates for future consumption.

Last night we headed to the one restaurant on Normans Cay. There's not much here other than the Normans Cay Beach Club, but the club has a restaurant called "MacDuffs". Two years ago it was just MacDuffs, but then the land and properties were bought up by a new owner and it's now
"MacDuffs at the Normans Cay Beach Club". It was nice to get off the boat for a meal. The food wasn't bad, but it was ridiculously overpriced. A hamburger cost $14. A tiny piece of fish (4 ounces?) with rice, a roll, some vegetables and salad cost $26. My cracked conch was $28. We had ice cream for dessert (major treat!) but realized too late that is was EIGHT DOLLARS per bowl, each bowl containing about 2 small scoops of vanilla. Now, I know we're on an unpopulated cay, but we're less than 30 minutes from Nassau by powerboat. There shouldn't be any reason why the food is so expensive. Honestly, I'd give it a skip the next time through. On top of the expensive price, we waited 30 minutes before we went to the bar and asked if we could get drinks, and then waited another 20 minutes to go to the bar and ask for menus. We
only waited ten minutes to walk to the bar to order. Others seemed to be getting served fairly rapidly, and without having to go to the bar. Who knows...

Today was spent lounging around, snorkeling by the crashed airplane that Normans Cay is famous for, eating chocolate and generally relaxing. The one project I worked on today was an abysmal failure. I installed a new electric fan by my favorite spot, next to our navigation station. I wired it all up, turned it on and it worked great. Later in the day I started the generator so we could run the air conditioning for a few minutes (it's been very damp and it's nice to dehumidify the boat a bit) and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzphffffffttttt, sparks and then smoke. The fan basically blew up. The electrical panel isn't labeled very well, and I think I must have wired the fan's negative terminal to the AC side of the bank instead of the DC. When I turned on the generator - boom! One dead fan. There's $50 or $60 down the drain. I think I'll try sending it back to them anyway. We'll see how it goes.

In Allens Cay we spied another Passport in the anchorage - Sans Cles ("Without Keys" in French). We stopped by to say hello to a fellow Passport owner (it's a Passport 43) and found out that they had left Oregon in 2007, traveled down the west coast through Mexico and Central America, come through the Panama Canal and then headed north via various stops to Florida. They then turned east and headed to Bimini, then Nassau and are now in the Exumas. We left them behind in Allens Cay but then they showed up next to us yesterday here at Normans. We invited them over for Easter Dinner and dined on a ridiculous amount of lamb, yams, three bean salad and then a bread pudding with a rum sauce. We were all seriously stuffed and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their adventures and sharing some of our plans.

Speaking of the anchorage, things have settled down considerably. The wind is fairly light, there are almost no waves, and without wind the current seems significantly less. We had one brief squall today which dumped rain on Pelican for all of 90 seconds (it's nice to have a quick rinse to get the salt off), but it's been clear other than the one burst. When we arrived we were one of three boats in the anchorage. As of today there are about 10 boats. It's a pretty nice place to anchor in settled weather as your swing (where the boat rotates around the anchor chain) is fairly predictable, following the current for the most part.

Kristen went for a run on Normans Cay today, and then came back and used our solar shower (basically a "foil" bag that you hang off the mast, fill with water, and then use the spigot on the end to lightly rinse yourself off). It's nice to know it works, although there is pretty much no water pressure out of it. One of these days we'll hook up our good cockpit shower so we can have some pressure water outside to rinse with.

Tomorrow morning we're heading to Warderick Wells. Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Quoting from one of our cruising guides, "The park, a designated replenishment area for all The Bahamas, is made up of 15 major cays and numerous smaller ones
encompassing 176 square miles... The greatest diversity of marine life in the Exumas occurs at the edge of the banks where they drop off to the deep basins of Exuma Sound, this is the physical setting of The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Since the taking of any plant, animal, or marine life, including corals and shells, is prohibited, researchers and visitors can view populations of land and marine life in their natural conditions, unspoiled by fishing and hunting. Curious grouper and lobster may approach to investigate you as you swim by instead of instinctively retreating into their holes. Here you will see reefs and coral formations that are uniquely Bahamian and have few rivals for sheer breathtaking splendor. Ashore you will find flora and fauna that are no longer found elsewhere in The Bahamas."

I hate to admit this. It feels a little like I'm going to disappoint everyone. One of the things we've found out about ourselves is that we like to see culture more than habitat. In other words, while we're enjoying the snorkeling and beaches, we'd prefer to see more settlements and towns, meet more Bahamanians and see how the way they live differs from the way we live. As a result, we are probably going to focus more on visiting populated cays and less on visiting "deserted islands". My current guess is that our future itinerary has us visiting Sampson Cay, Big Majors (wild swimming pigs) and Staniel Cay (all right next to each other), Black Point Settlement, maybe Little Farmers Cay, maybe Lee Stocking Island (the Caribbean Marine Research Center is located here) and then the Georgetown area (Elizabeth Harbour). From there, who knows. It may take us 10 days to get there, or it may take us 30. We'll obviously let y'all know what our plans are as we figure them out ourselves.

Warderick Wells, as I've mentioned before, supposedly has wireless Internet. If it's decent, I'll be able to post some pictures. We'll probably be there for a few days. They have moorings (basically, anchors that have been affixed permanently in the ground) so we're excited not to have to worry about anchor dragging. We'll be back to you soon!

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