Trip Start Mar 09, 2009
Trip End May 26, 2009

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Friday, April 24, 2009

April 23, 2009 Winds: ENE 15-20 kts
We were rockin' last night!  With the outgoing tide and the wind shifting to the north, everyone was rockin' and rollin'.  In the V-berth it was like lying in a hammock when someone comes along and pushing the hammock to make it swing more.  Not so much you needed to close the hammock around you but enough so that the rocking was more than a gentle sway.  The wind was ripping through the rigging but not singing yet.  All in all, a good night to sleep.
This morning the winds are picking up again.  Only four boats left the anchorage.  We watched two of them head out towards the Exuma Sound and then turn back to go out the Bank.  Heading for the Sound they were really pitching and when they turned to take the cut to the Bank they were surfing the waves.  I think those boats were the ones with the two families and about 7 kids between them.  They all dinghied to the beach last night and had a get together.  Apparently they took a hike and then were back on the beach for sunset.  It was fun watching the younger ones using sticks like swords and running and leaping.  The older ones were sitting around the picnic table.  Whatta life to grow up in! 
It's a Dog's Life
The mooring down from us was a catamaran with two kids and the golden retriever.  The golden just sat facing the stern on one of the pontoon steps letting his paws droop down - just waiting to see if he'd get his dinghy ride.  They left for Staniel to wait out the blow.
The boat in front of us has the 14 month old German Shepherd and he gets really, really pissed when they go off and leave her behind.  She sits back there and wails and wails for the owners.  I over heard some cruisers this morning on shore complaining about that damn dog wailing all evening.  Oh well!
Morning Hike
We took a hike on some of the trails we missed before. The hiking trails are steep and rugged over jagged and pitted limestone.  It's more like rock stepping than hiking trails. The trail is marked by painted arrows on the rocks or rocks set up upon themselves, otherwise you could just wander around and not know where you're going.  You could easily twist an ankle by stepping into a hole or fall and cut yourself on this jagged limestone.  Hiking shoes are recommended......we wore our crocks ...... so it felt like I was hiking in my bedroom slippers!
Met a woman in Nassau who had been hiking here, slipped and fell and cut the top of our foot.  She didn't seek medical attention (like where??) and it got infected so they ended up in Staniel at the clinic where she waited four hours to be seen.  Once seen, they cleaned out the infection, gave her a shot of antibiotics and gave her some pills and dressed and wrapped the foot.  In the end they handed her a bill for $40.  Wonder what it would have cost in the US?  Her foot had healed nicely when I saw it.  But I remembered her tale so was extra careful I didn't do myself in!
We climbed to the top of Hutia Hill.  The  Hutia  live on this island.  It is a rodent that the early Lucayans kept as pets and for food.  Early Loyalists described them as "...a coney with a rat's tail".  They resemble guinea pigs with chubby bodies, stubby necks, short ears and tails.  However they are the cousin of the porcupine, chinchilla and capybara.  (Imagine a Hutia stole!)  Walking through the brush they waddle but on the sand they hop like a bunny.  Once they were widespread thru the Bahamas but due to hunting and predation of dogs and cats they are only found in the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  In 1973 thirteen were placed on Warderick Cay and they have multiplied profusely and devoured all vegetation within their habitat.  Now the Hutia are going after the endangered species of plants!  (No good deed goes unpunished!)  Exuma Park and Bahama National Trust are working on resolving this dilemma without harming the hutia or the endangered plants.
We climbed rocks and boulders  to get to the top of Hutia Hill and had a good view of the Exuma Sound.  It was kicking up and we didn't see any sailboats or any other kind of boat on the horizon.    Turning to the west was the tranquility of the Park looking out on the Bank.  However, the Bank had it's share of white caps - just didn't look as ugly as the Sound did.  
Continuing on the trail, we heard a beautiful song and looked up in the tree and there was my prior nemesis - The Bananaquit!   They really are pretty little birds and have a beautiful song. It has a very delicate trill and I would recognize it anywhere.   I didn't see them flocking at the Park Office so maybe they are sitting on their eggs in the trees.  Anyway we haven't announced "we're back" so they don't know to come and visit.  Hopefully we can keep it that way!
Hiking on these jagged rocks there are times you need to grab roots or foliage to steady yourself.  The one to know and avoid is the poisonwood.  It's a member of the Sumac family and as nasty as poison ivy or poison oak.  I don't recognize it by the leaves so much as the bark which is light brown and flakes to show the orange bark underneath.  It grows as a tree and as a bush so you need to be careful where you reach.  As a kid I never got poison ivy or poison oak.  I remember at summer camps my counselors sent me into the Sumac patch to get the little kids out because I never got  a reaction from these plants.  However, at the age of 61 I was not going to test the gods! 
Reaching the beach we proceeded to the front porch of the Park Office to enjoy the view and meet up with a few cruisers from the anchorage.
High and Dry and the Park Porch Discussion Group ( "PPDG")
Last night around dusk a 42' catamaran with a 4' draft came into the anchorage and ran aground out where the yacht moorings are.  He finally got off and picked up a mooring out there.  Some time this morning, without calling into the Park office, he proceeded into the North Anchorage heading for a vacant mooring.  We (our "Park Porch Discussion Group" (PPDG)) guess he was going to sneak onto the mooring and then call the office. According to one member of the PPDG on a nearby mooring,  he didn't have his VHF radio on  because they called him as he was proceeding in to advise he call the office and that the channel markers were on the other side of the moorings.  
Too bad for him!  He is now truly high and dry.  He isn't just "off the water", he is now in the middle of the tidal flat.  He called in desperation to the Park Office to say he was aground and also needed a mooring and they told him to throw an anchor and wait for the tide and, oh by the way, they couldn't give him a mooring in the North Anchorage he was going to have to go out to Emerald Rock and pick up a mooring.  According to another member of our PPDG, there are four people on the boat and apparently three were not speaking to the captain!  Love to be a fly on the hull on that boat. Watching what he does is our amusement for the afternoon.  Between four and six he should be trying to get off and he'll have to avoid the three sailboats on the moorings next to him and try to get to deeper water on the other side of those sailboats.

Everyone in our PPDG has run aground and we all have empathy for the Catamaran but the way he did it was kind of funky.  If you've ever been in here before or looked at the charts, or read a guide, it's very, very clear that there is a conspicuous large tidal flat that is exposed at low tide in the middle of the anchorage.  It's like he didn't have any charts and why didn't he have his VHF radio on.   Oh well!  
Blow Holes & the Encounter
  Tide is almost high so we decided to hike up Boo Boo Hill to the blow holes.  Last time we were here it was low tide so we didn't hear anything from the blow holes.  It was a great hike and well worth it.  I wish I could have audio so that you could hear the blow hole.  

   Dave put his hat over the hole and it blew right straight back from the force of the waves coming into the cave at the bottom of the cliff.  Salt spray spewed up from the rocks below.   The Exuma Sound is really kicking up and we can feel the spray from these cliffs.           

  Looking down the point is Warderick Cut - Exu;ma Sound to the right, Bahama Bank to the left.

  We walked from the blow holes back over to the area where cruisers have left their names in a pile.  The first one says it all!   
Walking down from this hill a snake crossed my path - it was under a rock as I was stepping down.  OMG .... Anyone who knows me and my non-relationship with snakes can only imagine my reaction.  I practically landed on Dave's back.....and he was behind me .... Got the visual!?!  I dug my nails into his shoulder while composing myself and watching the tail to disappear under the scrub next to the trail.  I had to remind myself that these are God's creatures and have more of a right to be there than I do!  My solution to the issue was - let Dave lead!  What kind of snake was it?  The kind that slithers!
Fortunately there are no poisonous snakes on these islands.  That was probably a brown racer hunting lizards and insects.  It just startled me because I didn't see it in the crevasses  of the rocks.  We passed some curly tailed lizards making their way across the rocks.  Walking back down I was more careful how I stepped.  I was sure I passed other snakes along the way - just as long as I didn't see them!
The catamaran got off the tidal flat...finally.  They were given a mooring at Emerald Rock off the Bank but for some reason asked for a mooring in the South anchorage which is off the Sound.  They confirmed they knew that so the Park assigned them a mooring there.  We watched them go out to the sound and they were really pitching!  When they were on the other side of the cliffs, we could just see their mast and it was pitching.  I'm sure the ride down to the south anchorage must be eventful!
It's really rolly tonight.  Winds are 15-20 kts and with the tidal change we are bucking.  Sitting in the cockpit I actually have a small blanket over my lap! 
I've gimbaled the stove to cook orzo and Dave is fighting the wind on the grill for the chicken.  We overcame these wonderful obstacles and had a great dinner - albeit rolly. 
Life is Good - maybe not so much for the catamaran......!
April 24, 2009 - Warderick at E 20-25 kts
We're looking at ENE to E winds 19-25 kts with higher gusts until next Tuesday then it'll start to moderate down to 14-20 kts which is going to seem mild.  Seas are 8-10.  I'm not sure we'll leave Warderick much before Monday and then we'll head for Hawksbill .  At least the winds are staying easterly because all the anchorages down here are on the western shores.  By hanging around here we can get internet to get the long-range weather forecast.  By leaving Monday we should have a good feel for weather over the next seven days. 
Not much going on today.  Our Zoom has been leaking. Dave has to pump out at least a gallon of water each morning so today he's hoisting it up on deck to check the bottom seams.  Last year we borrowed the "Alden Yacht" because the Zoom's bottom had peeled apart.  Over the past year, Dave resealed the bottom and took the Zoom with us.  Well, it's leaking - don't know if it's the bottom or what but needs to be pumped every day - in with air - out with water!  So, we've decided this is a stay-on-the-boat day.  I helped Dave hoist Zoom up over the bow and it's now sitting upside down.  Dave patched the water leak (hopefully) but couldn't find the air leak!   Between the Zoom and the engine - it's always a thrill when we leave Spindrift behind! 

I may bake some of Dianne's heart healthy muffins.  I measured all the dry ingredients and put them in baggies before we left so all I need to do is add an egg and applesauce and oil.  I hope the oven will heat evenly.  My biscuits were quite a challenge to bake.  We also have not watched one movie or any of the Season TV series we brought along.  So that may be our next entertainment of the day.  Barb saw the XXL zip lock bag full of paperbacks and asked if I was going to read all of those.  Well, I've read more than half of them already and brought books up to the Park Office to do an exchange.  I'm averaging two days on a book - I try not to read a book all in one day!  So when I'm not sailing (at the helm) or exploring, I'm reading and lovin' it.  Spindrift is a really comfortable home and we are content to be on her doing nothing important. 
Life is good!
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Dianne's Heart Healthy Muffins??
Hey - let's be accurate in your credits - those are 'Tim's Heart Healthy Muffins' that he makes for Dianne. :>)

Your trip continues to impress.

For what it's worth our boat lift is going in as I type so maybe we will be 'in the cradle' next weekend!


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