Kristen here - Today we left Normans Cay and headed for Warderick Wells. Warderick, as Chris mentioned is the home of the Exuma Land and Sea Park, and we were all very eager to check this place out.
This morning at about 9:30 we watched 4 boats pull up anchor and quickly get pulled away by the current. That let us know that as soon as our anchor was up, we had to be ready to motor away from the sand bar right in front of us. It wasn't too bad because the current was pulling us away from the sand bar.
I stood on the bow watching the water color to point the way to deep water. As I was looking, the giant stingray the kids and I saw yesterday escorted us out of the anchorage. Who needs an aquarium! I called to both kids and they too got a glimpse.
We started out our sail in 13-15 knots of wind with fairly calm seas. We put a single reef in the main and the jenny. After a while we shook out the jenny reef and had a beautiful sail. This time instead of heading on our course, which was directly into the wind, we went slightly off course. It added about 5 miles to the trip, but it let us sail instead of turning on the motor.
Lately with all of this stopping and going at the various cays, I feel like we're really getting the hang of preparing to sail quickly. It used to be quite an ordeal to get the boat ready to sail. We usually have a mess down below, so that would have to be cleaned up so nothing falls and breaks while we're heeling. Then you have to uncover the sail, get the lines ready, hoist the sails and adjust them for the wind. It's a lot of work. But now that we move more often, the cabin is kept clean, and raising the sails takes a fraction of the time it used to. It's quite a good feeling to just throw up the sails and be on your way!
The Exuma Land and Sea Park has a bunch of different mooring fields, the North mooring field being the most popular. We called ahead of time to try to get a spot there, but were told that we would most likely have to go to another field and get on a waiting list for the North field. You can only radio the day before to be put on the waiting list. As we left this morning, Sans Cles, the other passport that came over for Easter Dinner relayed to us that the Park had been trying to radio us about the mooring. We thanked them for the relay (they were in radio range of the park) and used the satelite phone to call the park. They told us we had a spot in the North field. YAY!
As we approached the entry, another sailboat was going in as well. This is always nice because you can follow them in with a fair amount of confidence. If there is a shallow spot, they will find it first! The mooring field is like a 50 foot wide river that runs between shore and a sandbank. It was very scary to navigate. In the middle of the river were all the moorings, so we hugged each moored boat. The moorings started at 1, and we were on number 14. The boat we were following stopped at 4.
After much trepidation, we made it to 14. It was right in front of the beach and the park office. It's just perfect. We hooked onto the mooring, cleaned up the boat and relaxed. A sense of calm swept over me. There were people! People on the beach, people snorkeling all over the place, people walking on the sand bar. And every boat we passed on the way in said hi as we went by. It just seems like a nice place here. I'm not sure what it was, but I felt really happy when we arrived.
After a sitting a bit with my book and a beer, I had to see what all the snorkelers were looking at. Kaitlin wanted to come with me, and Casey wanted to hang out with the wifi for a bit longer. We went down the swim ladder and started swimming around. Then I looked up and some people on the sandbar were pointing to something between us and them. My heart jumped as I yelled, "What is it?", of course assuming the worst. They didn't speak english, so I just took a peek underwater for myself. As the black shape came closer, I could see that it was a mid sized stingray swimming by. That was just amazing. Kaitlin was absolutely thrilled. "We were swimming with a stingray!" she said. I'm so glad that my fears have not transferred to her. To tell you the truth, I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be upon seeing the stingray.
By the time we made it to the front of the boat, Casey was in his bathing suit and was ready to join us. We all swam over to the sand bank, and walked across it to another snorkeling spot. Kaitlin spotted a crab holed up inside a large conch shell. That was when Casey announced he was heading back to the boat. He's still getting over the toe biting incident in Nassau.
Kaitlin and I continued on to investigate some coral. We saw lots of fish that blended in with their background. I haven't seen any lobsters yet though. After a bit we started swimming back to the boat. We went back towards the mooring field in some deeper water. Kaitlin and I would point out each fish we saw. As I was scanning the bottom, I saw it. I was looking at and pointing out a small fish to Kaitlin when I glanced a bit further and saw a small nurse shark. My heart skipped a beat and then for some reason there was no fear. I didn't want Kaitlin to freak out. Kaitlin's eyes got really big and we lifted our heads out of the water. "Did you see it?" I said to her. "Yea!" she said excitedly. "Don't be scared." I told her. "Why should I be scared Mom? That's the biggest fish I've ever seen!" she replied. "That's not a fish, that's a nurse shark!" Her eyes got really, really big and I saw a bit of fear in them. Then I laughed and said "Cool! Lets see if we can still see it" We looked again below, and it was gone. When I looked into her eyes again there was no fear. We continued back to the boat, but I felt no urgency. I hope that feeling stays with me.
This afternoon the boys remained glued to the internet. You would think it had been months! I started dinner, chicken, potatoes and onions on the grill and started a new book while it cooked. As I was sitting in the cockpit, a small bright yellow breasted bird flew in to say hello. It landed on the back of the cockpit and then flew onto the compass about 2 feet from my knees. I swear it almost landed on my toes! A few minutes later it came back again long enough for me to call Chris and the kids up to see it. We've had quite a welcome from the wildlife here!
It is quite muggy and sticky right now, and everyone is having a bit of trouble with the heat. Casey just came out of his bedroom and is sleeping on the couch where its a bit cooler. Chris turned in early because his tummy hurt, and Kaitlin is actually just fine. I don't mind the heat, but I'm not a big fan of sticky. It's a small price to pay though, and it sure beats the cold!
It's 11:00 PM now, and I should probably get to bed. I'll let you all know what we see and do here at the park. I'm going to try to get some sewing projects done while we're here as well. We'll see how that goes!