The Shroud Cay Itch   Leave a comment


It hasn’t even been a week since we left Nassau and Lee and I are already falling into the rhythm of the Exumas. It goes something like this: Wake up, investigate weather, explore/swim/eat/hang out, sleep, wake up, clean up boat, sail to next anchorage, explore, socialize, eat, sleep – repeat!

We have been moving about every other day but we don’t feel rushed. The distances between cays are so short that it only takes a tiny fraction of a day to sail from place to place. Every little hop is also some of the most wonderful sailing we have ever experienced. The water is flat and the wind is strong. It’s warm but not hot and there are beautiful things to look at all around.

After Highbourne we rejoined the gang of young sailors at Shroud Cay. We were all drawn to that particular island but Lee and I were heading for a different anchorage until our friends called on the radio to say there was enough depth for Pirat where they had anchored. We nosed up to the island cautiously but never saw less than 9 feet. The three couples on the other boats were all out in their various water craft when we got there. The sailing dinghy was towing the dinghy with a broken motor while an inflatable kayak did circles around them. We were so, so glad they had called us over to their anchorage. It was truly a beautiful spot. Ours were the only boats anchored snugly in a cove with a tiny sandy beach and a rocky reef around one side.

Everyone gathered on our boat for dinner that night. I served up a big pot of veggie soup others brought pressure cooker bread, humus, and drinks. We feasted and talked sailor talk.

The next morning Lee rowed me in to the beach so I could do yoga (so sweet!). It seemed like a great idea until I noticed all the tiny flies swarming around me. Lee was long gone visiting another boat and I stuck it out to the end of my practice before calling him on the VHF to come get me. The flies were a nuisance but I didn’t notice any bites. It felt great to do yoga, especially on dry land!

After breakfast it was time for some serious exploring. We had heard that tributaries through the mangroves led all the way to the other side of the sizable island. One of the group had been down them before so he led a few of us in a cross-island expedition. Once again, a comical trio of craft took to the water. There was the sailing dinghy, valiantly tacking through the current. Lee rowed our dinghy, since engines aren’t allowed up the pristine waterways. One of the gang paddled the kayak, by far the best vehicle for the trip.


We all found the brisk outgoing current pretty challenging. Lee could easily row in place but had to fight a significant water flow to make it up the channel. The sailing dinghy became a rowing dinghy until the oarlock broke, when it became a floatation device to walk next to. We encountered shallow places were we could walk, waist or ankle deep in water. We spotted sharks in deep spots and little fish hiding among the mangroves. The whole thing was like a dream. We battled the current, took in the spectacular scenery around us, and enjoyed the company of fellow adventurers.


The mangroves were low most of the time, maybe just below eye level. The tributary was sometimes as narrow as 10-13 feet and sometimes twice that wide. It seemed to go on forever! Eventually we passed a branch where the current was flowing in, so our branch lost it’s opposing flow and we picked up a lot of speed.

When we reached the other side of the island a low rise lined with trees blocked the view of the beach. We left our dinghies tied to mangroves in shallow water and walked over the rise. A spectacular sight lay before us. The ocean waves broke on rocks and reefs along a white sandy beach bordered by green trees. The water was so many different colors at once. It was like many different kinds of water converging on the shore. We found a pile of sea junk (buckets, ropes, you name it) washed up by storms. Around the corner was a pristine crescent beach perfect little waves.


We were worried about our dinghies being left high and dry as the tide continued to go out so we didn’t stay long. One couple had been smart enough to bring snacks and kindly shared them with the rest of us. We chowed down on sardines, crackers, orange, and apple, then got back in our boats for the return trip.

The current was with us this time but it was still a long journey. We saw more sharks, fish, and even a sea turtle this time. It was almost 3pm when we got back to out boats and Lee still had the energy to windsurf! I relaxed on the beach, did a little swimming, and took an ocean bath while Lee tore halfway around the island. The group met up for a potluck on the beach that night and then we all watched a movie on one of the boats. We had to stack ourselves like sardines. It was cozy.

At some point during the afternoon my lower back started to itch. Then I started scratching my neck and wrists too. I looked in a mirror and realized that the little flies had been biting me the whole time I was doing yoga. It had dozens of bites all over every part of skin that was exposed that morning. It was sooooooo itchy! It was like a traumatic flashback to my horrible poison oak episode!

Yesterday morning it was time to move and the group dispersed again. Two boats set out for Staniel Cay, a settled island outside the park, another left with no particular destination in mind (and probably ended up at Staniel), and Lee and I headed for Warderick Wells. Yes, that’s the name of and island.

My itchy bug bites have kept me awake half the night for two nights in a row now, even with benedryl. My entire body continued to itch. It seemed like new bites were popping up all the time but I swear they all came from those little flies! Itchiness is worse than pain for me. I think I’m hypersensitive to things like this after the poison oak incident. Those stupid bugs, they even bit both of my earlobes, the corner of my left eye and my upper lip. To top it off, my body’s reaction has reactivated some old bug bites so they’re itching like crazy too.

We called ahead for a mooring from the park this morning and sailed the <20 miles in perfect conditions. We even had our full sails up! Our mooring is on the outskirts of the cove near the park headquarters. This afternoon we walked to the top of Boo Boo hill and looked out to see. This is another beautiful island and it has quite a few trails as well as some Loyalist ruins I’d like to see. Today we went for a little trail run, tried out the local internet, and lounged on the beach.


Tomorrow we are volunteering to do some odd jobs for the park warden around the island. Should be fun!

Posted February 20, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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