Exumas Cay Land and Sea Park

Warderick Wells Cay

After a 6 hour trip from Nassau to Highborn Cay (which was beautiful) we sailed to the Exumas Cay Land and Sea Park. The park is about 176 square miles and consists of several islands.  The main office is in Warderick Wells and that is where we started. I am not sure if the pictures could even show the beauty of this place at all. The water is perfectly blue and full of life and the beaches are pristine.  This section of the park has numerous hiking trails to enjoy. Here our a few pictures of Walden in the mooring field.

 

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We did the short hike to Boo-boo hill. On top of the hill you can find a pile of signs from driftwood and other scraps of wood showing names of the boats that visited this place. We found some driftwood later and will hopefully leave our mark in few weeks as we come back with my parents. The trail to the Boo-boo hill led us through water and a little palm forest.

Here are the signs with all the boat names; hopefully ours will be there in a few weeks.

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There are also blow holes located near Boo-Boo Hill. A blow hole is a hole in the cliffs overhanging the Atlantic ocean that under certain conditions (high tide and high wind) the will blow water through. It was not that kind of weather for us.

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We did some snorkeling right of the back of our boat. The kids were jumping in and out of this clear water all the time.

We had a small coral reef behind our boat and since the kids were tired from swimming we went by ourselves. On the way back to the boat we found a surprise visitor in the back of our boat near the sugar scoops where our swim ladder is located; a nurse shark. I scrambled up the ladder pretty quickly. Luckily he went to the other side of the boat while we were climbing up on it. The shark came right back and was waiting for hand outs. Nurse sharks are not usually swimming on the surface like this one did. He hung out with us for the next couple of hours.

We had also reunited here with Summercamp and INNTW (If not now then when),which are two kids boats. We all went on a hike in Emerald Bay. It wasn’t as nice as the Boo-Boo Hill hike, but it was fun, especially for the kids. They took off and were not concerned about us at all. The boys (dads) decided to swim back for the dinghies while us (moms) and kids hung out on the beach two coves over from our dinghies. I think all the people in the mooring field could hear our kids cheering for their swimming dads. The Dads did come back with beverages. I am thinking that maybe this was the real reason why they went instead. They wanted to spare us the hike back or they just wanted a beer?

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Cambridge Cay

Our next stop in Exuma Park was Cambridge Cay. We used the moorings provided by the park again. Our plan was to visit the Dundas Cave, but the winds were very strong for us to visit the cave, but we will be back.

We took a hike on the top of the ridge behind the mooring site. We had some strong winds and waves on the Atlantic ocean side. This was the highest hill we climbed on while in the Bahamas. The view was breathtaking, but it looked more like a picture of  Ireland with the raging sea, cliffs and strong wind. It was a different kind of beauty.

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Here is our Walden and it looks pretty tiny compared to those big yachts.IMG_6646.JPG

We also couldn’t pass on snorkeling ‘The Aquarium’. The name is an exact description of what it looks like. The minute we arrived and tied our dinghy to the mooring ball hundreds of Sergeant Majors, some Jacks and Night Sargents surrendered our boat waiting to be fed. And yes we brought some crackers, don’t judge, we don’t do this usually.  The snorkeling was awesome and it did look like an aquarium. Aside of the named fish we saw a couple of Rays, a Sea Turtle, a Bahamian Grouper and a couple of different kinds of Parrot Fish. The rest of the fish I don’t know nor we remember.

We also checked out a small airplane wreck on the way back to the boat.

Our handsome and supper happy driver brought us safely to the boat.GOPR7167.JPG

Bahamas here we are!

We arrived into Bimini Sands marina on January 18th around 9:30 am. We left way too early from No Name Harbour after Brent being ready and impatient. Bimini Sands is located on South Bimini, which is not the place where all the tourists go.  There is not much on the island except couple of houses, airport, 2 restaurants (one is take out) and the Shark Research Lab. We didn’t originally plan to go to Bimini at all. Our plan was to go across the bank and end up in Chub Cay.  We plan but mother nature changes our mind all the time. The weather window was not very long and a nasty front was following. Second, Bimini Sands marina was running a special where we coud get dockage for $100 a week. Yep that is right, $100 per week.  The resort has nice floating docks with complete protection from bad weather. They also have a beautiful infinity pool and a beach area. The marina had large numbers of fish in the marina and the water was clear.

After checking in with customs we settled down and met some cruisers. One of the boats that came from No Name Harbour was Summercamp with Kayla, Dave and their girls Zaia and Jolie. They made friends quickly. IMG_5224[1]

The very first night we learned not to let our kids stick their feet in the water even it was so clear. We had visitors – 4 bull sharks. They were way to accustomed to people feeding them, so they reacted to splashing in water by “going for it”. Last year some dog was supposedly drown, bitten by the sharks in the marina. So no kids in water here. Not the greatest picture of the shark, but it was at night with our underwater lights and taken with Iphone from our boat. This one was about 6-7 feet long.TMIQqQwSSXC8tr5Pkz4sEg

Our Mei with her cast covered in a trash bag walking on the pretty beach in South Bimini.DCIM105GOPRO

We did visit North Bimini, which could be done by dinghy or ferry and runs every 10 min or so and costs $3 per ride.  Our visit in Bimini was for a whole week as the weather was blowing some strong storms in so we could not safely cross the bank. We did have a chance to visit the Shark Research Lab on. We got to see their little sharks and learned about their work. IMG_5223[1]

After a week in Bimini Sands a decent weather window opened up and we took off across the bank to Chub Cay.

Chub Cay

After sailing all day we arrived in Chub Cay about 8pm. We almost hit a channel marker but noticed it at the last second. We spent one day in the anchorage outside Chub Cay Resort, but decided to tuck in into the comfortable marina on the second night as 40-50 knot winds were expected. Chub Cay Marina had a nice infinity pool with a really nice beach. We used every minute of the time there.

Dave from Sumercamp flying a kite with Marco.IMG_6545

Mei and her daddy flying kite.IMG_6555

Next day we anchored between Bird and Whale Cay. We stayed with our friends from Summercamp as the kids were all excited to have boat buddies around. We found a beach with really deep sand, it felt like walking in ankle high snow, except the temperature felt wrong. DCIM105GOPRO

We also snorkeled on a wreck nearby.

Sunset from our boat was beautiful at Bird Cay

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New Providence – 1/30/2019

Our next jump brought us to New Providence Island and Nassau. We avoided the main harbour where the cruise ships are coming and going. We anchored again near our friends from Summercamp in West Bay. We were able to get some provisioning done and also squeeze in some fun.IMG_5201

Did I say the water was clear light blue? Checking the anchor became much easier, you can see it from the top of the boat. Well we could see everything that went by our boat in the water. Kids had fun walking the beach near our boat.

We spent the last couple of weeks with friends from Summercamp. Here is all of us.DCIM105GOPRO

Brent also caught us yummy Mahi-Mahi on the way to New Providence, which we shared with our friends for dinner.IMG_6575

Crossing to Exumas

Although we will be back in Nassau to pick my (Eva’s) parents we decided to make a run (sail) for the Exumas starting at Highborne Cay. Our anchorage in north end was peaceful. We got to snorkel on some reefs near our boat and also dinghy to nearby Allans Cay and its Iguana Beach. The Iguana’s are native on the Exuma Islands. Here in Alan Cay they get fed by people. Tour boats bring their customers here to feed the iguanas and interact with them. So the moment they saw us they went towards us. I didn’t feel too comfortable about it as I read they do bite. We decided to do the right thing and not feed them. I said we snorkeled, well not all of us. Makai completely missed it and slept through it completely on the side of dinghy while we were all in the water.GOPR7085.JPG

Next stop Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Please note that although it looks like this is all fun and play we are teaching our kids. We tend to do about 3-5 hours of school a day. This includes reading, writing, math, history, science, grammar and foreign language. The difference is we are doing it in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

 

We are in Bahamas!

It has been while since I posted. Over the past few months we made it down to Florida from the Chesapeake Bay area.  We had a stop for Thanksgiving with our family in Georgia and then went south. It was time as the temperature hit the 33F while we were docked in Brunswick, Georgia.

St. Augustine

One of our first stops was St. Augustine in the middle of December. We stayed on a mooring ball outside the city walls with a view of Castillo de San Marcos. The kids were enjoyed the tour of the fort. The best part was St. Augustine didn’t spare any money on decorating for Christmas.  We had a wonderful view of the city christmas lights from our boat. The kids could even hear the Santa riding in his horse carriage and saying his ” Ho Ho Ho”. We loved the pre-Christmas atmosphere.

Our boat ‘Walden’ in the bay:

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We also got hit by another boat while in the marina. Luckily the damage was only gel coat and some buffing, but it had to be taken care of. We put this on our list of to-do items while in Fort Lauderdale.

West Palm Beach

Our next stop was West Palm Beach, FL. A few important things had happened in the below order:

  1. Brent got the watermaker working! For those of you that don’t know what watermakers are (aside a big pain, Brent would tell you in details) let me explain. A watermaker is a device that takes the salt and other particles out of ocean water and makes it into drinkable water using reverse osmosis. We really didn’t need it much on the East Coast of the U.S. as the water is free at fuel docks and marinas, but the Bahamas is a complete opposite. In Bahamas water costs anywhere from 25 – 50 cents per gallon. IF you think about how much water your family uses in a week this can add up. Plus, you have to go get it in marina or fuel dock. Our plan is to mostly anchor in the Bahamas so a watermaker is important. This fix was big win for Brent.
  2. We celebrated Christmas here. It was a very different Christmas for us. We had a two foot tall tree with only a few decorations, but it was twinkling its lights proudly in our boat. Kids all got gifts that barely fit in their rooms, but we were all happy.78_4MBfJQX-yOhzT7YkRug
  3. We met up with our friends Heather and Mikah and their kids Parker and Cage. They are family sailing on trimaran that we met in Harrington Harbour this past summer. We had a great time hanging out with them on Peanut Island and eating dinner. All was great until….
  4. Mei broke her arm and that is kind of bad for a sailing family. That said we worked it out. Mei’s biggest problem was that she wont be able to play rough like she is used to. She was so upset and didn’t want to get a cast. She was telling the paramedics and us she is fine and doesn’t need to go to the doctors. She was such a brave girl through all this ordeal. We ended up cutting off the cast on our own while in the Bahamas a few weeks later. Yes, we did consult a doctor first.

Next stop Fort Lauderdale (repairs of repairs) and we were ready to head to Bahamas.

Makai turned 7 while we were in Fort Lauderdale.rF7fCIWRSS2Q6xNB8Z9npQW-D4ffQlT9SKaS-090EgNQ

Biscayne Bay

We had to wait for a weather window to cross to Bimini. As we are a sailing catamaran we do try to use our sails as much as possible. It is also important to not run in bad weather and try not to beat into the wind or waves. These conditions generally cause big discomfort and heavy usage of our engines, therefore more diesel money to spend.

We spent our time waiting in the Coconut Grove anchorage which is located just south of Miami. It is a very nice area attractive to cruisers with access to restaurants, stores and public transportation.

Once the wind started blowing hard from the East we moved to No Name Harbour which is a part of Bill Bags State Park on Cay Biscayne. It is a completely weather protected lagoon close to the tip of Cay Biscayne that was once a hideout out for pirates. Bill Bags State Park has a neat lighthouse, playground, beautiful beach and awesome trails. I wish we could stay longer, but the weather window opened and we went across the gulf stream to Bimini.

Here we are at the top of the lighthouse on Cay Biscayne studying our bay exit as we will be doing it while it is still dark.  Our plan was to leave at 4am until Brent decided to pick up the anchor at 2 am because he could not sleep. Too excited to go!

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Enjoying the sunset views from the stern of our boat in No Name Harbour.dbYGeAwtSEy6TDT1VZQkmw

Brent’s excitement kept him up, so we left at 2 am on the 18th of January from No Name Harbour. It was pitch black except for the moon. We saw amazing stars on the way.b3fnZvRsSE68kAvt-JoDJgOne positive to an early departure is that we didn’t miss the sunrise.54_6Fr-UQHW4JHaDPPPL9w

Here we are arriving at Bimini Sands, which is marina located on South Bimini, Bahamas. We made it there around 9:30 am.W622llY7RLmgDIFmyMMy4A (1)