March 1, 2006
We left Highborne Cay after diving on all the best reefs in that area, and headed to Shroud Cay, which is famous for its extensive network of mangrove creeks that criss cross the interior of the island. We were still traveling with John and Elaine aboard Didit, and we were all excited about spending the day exploring the creeks in the dinks. As the northernmost creek winds its way towards the ocean side, the water became deeper, and finally emptied into the ocean. To one side was a beautiful little white sand beach where we pulled up the boats, and walked around the corner to experience Camp Driftwood. Camp Driftwood was started by an old hermit like boater who lived on his boat in and around Shroud Cay for many years. He carved steps into a steep rocky slope on the ocean side and carried sand up the slope in sail bags to create a cozy little place to hangout on the high ridgeline. Since then, visitors to Camp Driftwood have left something to commemorate their visit. The Camp is littered with odds and ends of all sizes and descriptions, many of it with boat names painted on or carved into it to personalize the memento. The beach at the foot of Camp Driftwood is one of the most beautiful we've ever seen, with the finest white sand that you'll ever see, and turquoise blue, crystal clear water. We spent the rest of the day exploring the creeks, poking our boats into all the nooks and crannies, and discovering something new around every bend.
Before we headed back to the boat, we searched out and found an old natural well that has been in use for more than a century. Bahamian fisherman, conchers, spongers, and turtlers have used this well to fill their casks for a very long time. It was definitely an interesting side trip, and well worth the effort.
March 2, 2006
In the morning, we mounted an early assault on a busy day. Back in the dinks, we motored to the south end of Shroud to explore the creeks on that end of the island. The tide was at it's highest point during this trip, and the difference in the landscape was dramatic. The mangrove roots that were fully exposed during our trip the day before, were now fully submerged, as was the huge tidal flat in the center of the island. We thought that maybe this day of exploration would be just "more of the same", but we were totally wrong, and were thrilled to have crammed in another memory before we left this place.
We had reservations for a mooring at the Exumas Land and Sea Park HQ, which is located at Warderick Wells. On the way, we decided to take a little detour to visit Hawksbill Cay, an island that was once home to a small settlement whose main industry was farming sisal, a plant used in rope making. The ruins of 10 dwellings and various other out buildings are scattered around the island, and even though we didn't find them all, we did pretty well considering we still had to get back to the big boats and cover another two hours before sunset.
When we arrived at Warderick Wells, we quickly shut down the boats, jumped in the dinks and headed to shore for the hike up to Boo Boo Hill, an informal, turned formal place where for years, cruisers have left mementos from their boats. Today, there are literally thousands of unique and colorful products of the imagination left here to commemorate the visits of the many cruising boats that stop here each year. You really have to see it to understand it. We returned to the boat, took showers and dinghied over to John and Elaine's boat for an excellent dinner before turning in early to prepare for another big day.
Taking the dinghy around the west side of Shroud Cay to the mouth of the northern mangrove creek
John and Elaine in their rubber duck
Tomorrow at anchor
Entering the mouth of the creek
The tide was going out quickly
We had to tilt the motor up because the water was so shallow - we weren't sure if we would make it a few times
John looking for deep water
The dense thickets of mangroves lined the creeks on both sides
John & Elaine
A small shark
The tidal flats were practically dry
Some places were so shallow that we lifted the motor and paddled. It was almost better than using the motor because it was so quiet and peaceful.
A path where tidal waters left the flats and entered the creek
The end of the creek - here it empties into the Exuma Sound
We beached our dinks on this stretch of white sand
This does not suck!
At the top of this hill is Camp Driftwood
The flotsam & jetsam at Camp Driftwood is usually taken from the beach below
Kate at Camp Driftwood
The true meaning of flotsam and jetsam
One of the many lizards in the Exuma Park
The view from Driftwood
I'm having this much fun!
Another example of how wind and water action has made this limestone into a razor sharp meat grinder
Shelly (Kate's nickname when she starts getting crazy about shells) was very excited to find some jewels. In the Park, however, you're not even allowed to take shells.
This is a Sunrise Tellin
Exploring a different creek
Bahamian Milk Conch
Bahamian Milk Conch with one of the three varieties of starfish we have found in the Bahamas
A freshwater well that has been in use for over a century
It is known to be a fountain of youth, maybe a drink wasn't good enough for some people
Turtlers used to use these holes in the limestone to keep the turtles they caught while they went out to hunt for more
They're called kraals
Shelly is getting very excited, this is a common land snail in the Bahamas
Sunset at Shroud Cay
Sunrise at Shroud Cay
White tailed tropicbirds - Not usually seen, but this is the beginning of their breeding season - we watched them all morning flying about the boat
An early morning swim
Exploring another mangrove creek
An impressive root system
Shelly's been here
John and Elaine
An amazing yacht anchored west of Hawksbill Cay
The trail to the ruins on Hawksbill Cay
Huge Queen's Helmet
A sisal plant - once grown on this island as a cash crop
One of the ruins
Tomorrow and Didit anchored off of Hawksbill
One of the limestone caves on Hawksbill