Lending a Hand to the Land and Sea Park   Leave a comment


Pirat’s shadow at W.W. (Lee at the top of the mast).

Here we are in a new place again. Moving down this island chain is starting to feel so natural that I take our progression South for granted. On any given day we are either enjoying where we are or working towards what’s next. From Warderick Wells, Staniel Cay came next. and Black Point followed shortly after.

Before I get too ahead of myself, Lee and I had a busy and productive last day at W.W.
I began the morning with yoga on the boat. Lee and I took the dinghy ashore after breakfast and were stunned by a huge ray that flew out of the water right in front of us and in our direction. Our volunteer work starting with painting. The warden and a couple of friendly, experienced volunteers set us up with supplies and a whaler so we could repaint a red channel marker and a couple harbor entrance markers on the rocks. These were easy jobs, except maybe for manhandling the channel buoy into the boat.
After a lunch break the warden sent us on a mission with several objectives:

  1. Disassemble fire ring and scatter pile of wood assembled on Alive Beach (no fires allowed in the park!)
  2. Collect trash along rocky Southeastern shore of the island.
  3. Straighten up trails around Pirate’s Lair; clear and mark trails leading away from Pirate’s Lair.

It was an epic mission that kept us busy all afternoon. We took the park whaler again and enjoyed the beautiful scenery on the way to Alive Beach. The fire ring there had not been used but someone put a lot of effort into setting it up. There were two layers of large stones and the bottom layer was completely buried in the sand. We excavated all the stones and lugged them off to various locations along the beach. The pile of firewood went back into the bushes. Why can’t people just follow the rules? Why would you want to start a fire that could burn the entire island?

Next, we motored the whaler around the tip of Warderick Wells and came in close to the rocky shoreline. The warden said a lot of ocean trash collects in that area and he was right.. Lee and I filled a yard waste bag. It was mostly little things (shards of plastic, plastic bottle caps, fishing twine, and lots of random stuff) but they really added up. It didn’t help that the rocks along these islands are so unbelievably jagged. It’s a miracle no one fell on one of the knife-like protrusions.

After thoroughly denuding the rocks of unnatural debris, we moved on to Capture Beach and the Pirate’s Lair. We straightened up the rows of conch shells directing hikers to the trails and then set off with our gloves and clippers to do some trail work! We cut palm fronds, build cairns, places pieces of wood to mark trail edges, and puzzled over which way the trails actually went. The terrain was mostly jagged, holey rock slabs with palmettos, Poisonwood, and other shrubbery overgrowing the trails. The protected cove on that side of the island was the most beautiful place I’ve seen in the Bahamas so far. A small, outer cay creates a channel of calm water along the larger island. The water was clear and calm along the beach and the little channel felt cozy and private.


The perfect spot: Capture Beach.

Our afternoon of hard work was so rewarding. I felt good to help a worthwhile organization and outdoor, manual labor is always satisfying. I’m glad the Bahamas National Trust exists and does what it can to protect this beautiful place. Now, when Lee and I return to Warderick Wells someday, we can look at the red channel buoy and pristine Alive Beach and know that we played a tiny part in keeping the park running.

That evening, huge fish of an unknown variety hung out under our boat for a while. They hovered in the current while we started at them from above and I tried to work up the courage to go for my daily swim/bath.

We left Warderick Wells in the middle of the next day and motored the short distance to Staniel Cay on the gulf side (as opposed to the banks side, or “inside”). There was no wind and we watched coral pass under the boat through 50 feet of crystal water.


The world under our bow on the way to S.C.

At Staniel Cay we anchored near one of our friend boats and made a quick run into town for produce while the general store still had a good supply (the mail boat had just come that day). The tiny town is very cute in a bright, hodge-podged, island kind of way. I was amused by the cruising wives buying supplies in the general store. The first thing they grabbed was a flat of tonic water (for cocktails). They filled their baskets with some fresh produce, as I did, but also grabbed things like canned tomato paste and a box of cereal. Didn’t they stock up on things like that before coming out here? Why would you buy canned goods on an island for many times what they cost on the mainland? I felt good about my preparedness after that shopping trip.

This morning our the two boats of friends anchored at Staniel left for points south. We said goodbye for the time being, as we planned to stop in a closer cay than the one they were aiming for. Lee and I went for a nice run onshore and made a quick stop at Thunderball Grotto, a sea cave that famously appears in the James Bond movie. It was definitely worth the visit, as a friend had told us. We swam into the cave, whose mouth included a couple feet of air space, and found ourselves in a large, high-ceilinged chamber. Schools of fish (you know, the colorful striped ones) followed us in. Lee swam into the big underwater opening that I distinctly remember from the Bond movie. I stayed put and dealt with my fear of underwater spaces.

On our way our from Staniel Cay, we filled up on water at the yacht club. The wind was dying on the banks side of the islands so we took out our big genoa. Lee has been anxious to try this old sail that came with the boat. It’s bigger than our working jib and has a much lower clue. The sail change was a bit of a hassle but, in the end, totally worth it. We had another fabulous beat to our next destination.


Making dinner.

Here we are, anchored between the same two friend boats we saw at Staniel. They turned in early because of the light wind and ended up at Black Point, just like us. Black Point, a settlement on Great Guana Cay, has a big cove full of anchored boats and town complete with laundromat, restaurants, and shops. I plan to spend some time at the laundromat tomorrow and hopefully get a taste of some authentic, out-island culture. We’ll probably be here for a few days and I’d guess little Farmers Cay is next on our track.

Posted February 23, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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