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Boat Life

Allans Cay to Exuma Land and Sea Park

March 4, 2017

Rich keeps saying that he feels like we’re constantly in a Corona ad. It’s true, the locations just keep getting more and more jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Since there was a deal on Heineken when we stocked up back in Savannah, the only thing missing is the Corona. (Don’t worry, we’re taking this hardship in stride.)

After a 30-mile motorsail from Nassau (the only time we’ve had the jib up so far), we finally got to dip our toes in the beautiful waters of Allans Cay, one of the first islands in the Exumas chain. This is the place everyone goes to feed the iguanas. Of course you’re not really supposed to feed them… not that anyone listens. We were more interested in the ruins a little way down from where all the boatloads of tourists come in to feed the iguanas. That didn’t stop a few of the little (and one not so little) guys from scurrying over to see if we had any treats for them. We didn’t. Sorry, guys! But they didn’t go hungry: several powerboats dropped off hordes of tourists to feed them after we left.

Rowing ashore to vist the iguanas, like it or not

The next day during a cold front, it was cool and cloudy, but even the rain couldn’t dampen the prettiness of the Bahamas.

It was awesome to finally make it to this part of the Bahamas that we’ve been dreaming about for the last five years. Apparently Allans is popular with the lobster fishermen and we were lucky enough to buy a few lobster tails from them our second night in the anchorage. We have yet to try our Hawaiian sling. Desperate times… We enjoyed Allans but our stay was extended by a bit of a cold front that rolled in and delivered a pretty rockin’ and rollin’ night. Friends we chatted with later told us their anemometer clocked some gusts of 47. It was only forecast to be 12 mph, but we thought it felt like a little (okay, a LOT) more than that.

If we thought Allans Cay was picturesque, our minds were completely blown by the sheer gorgeosity of Shroud Cay. We anchored on the south side of the island and rowed through a mangrove creek to reach the beach on the Exuma Sound side. Along the way we passed tiny fish, baby conch, rays, and barracuda. We had to get out and walk at a few spots that were too shallow even for our dinghy but it was totally worth it in the end because the beach was the prettiest one we’ve seen yet, and not just in the Bahamas. Move over, Tulum! Between the various shades of blue of the sky and the shocking variations of blue in the water, our mouths were hanging open in amazement. Of course, the Chief Communications Officer, aka, moi, forgot to charge up the camera so we only got off one shot before it died. We took a few snaps with the camera phone, but they don’t even begin to do it justice.

The one shot we got off at the beach before the camera battery died

Camera phone to the rescue!

We got to swim in the gentle surf of this incredible spot all by ourselves for a while until a group of paddleboarders from a nearby megayacht showed up. After our ocean swim we floated in the creek for a while, enjoying the bathwater warmth of the shallow water. On the way back we had to walk quite a bit more of the 1.5-mile distance as it was now low tide. Still worth it. Near the end, we were met by a couple of jet-skiers who blatantly ignored the no-motor rule to blaze through the protected wildlife preserve. I took a little satisfaction in seeing that one of them ran aground and couldn’t restart his engine for a good couple of minutes. Serves him right!

Back on the boat we weren’t even bothered by the three new megayachts that had come in and anchored nearby while we’d gone ashore. We were too busy feeling lucky enough to be enjoying this champagne location on our beer budget. As we watched the sun go down we had the incredible experience of seeing the green flash (our first time!) just as the sun dipped below the horizon. Minds blown, again.

Just before we saw the green flash

Then came an onslaught of no-see-ums so ferocious that they wound up driving us out of our calm little spot a wee bit earlier than planned the next morning. But this was such a special place that it was well worth the battle scars. (Seriously, I looked like I had the plague for a few days afterward.)

The next morning we headed to Warderick Wells, home of the Exuma Land and Sea Park headquarters and quite possibly one of the prettiest mooring fields I’ve ever seen. Three dolphins greeted us as we made our way in, the first we’ve seen since we got to the Bahamas. After we grabbed a mooring ball we hiked up to Boo Boo Hill to check out the view, which didn’t disappoint. (We also wanted to see if we could get a cell signal, but no such luck.)

Mata Hari on a mooring ball in Warderick Wells

The view from the top of Boo Boo Hill. They said it couldn’t be done, but we managed just fine in our flip-flops.

We spent the next few days hiking and snorkeling this amazing spot. On our second snorkeling outing we got to check out a wreck that’s turned into a burgeoning reef with some of the biggest angelfish we’ve ever seen. They were gray and black stripes, so naturally they’re my new favorite fish. As we were snorkeling back to our boat we could hear a little commotion from a catamaran on a nearby mooring. The women on board who we’d seen on our first snorkeling trip were trying to get our attention. They thought they’d seen a couple of sharks swimming nearby. “We’d never be able to forgive ourselves is something happened and we didn’t try to warn you.” Ulp. Not much we could do since we were still three boats away from home. We just stuck to the shallowest water and swam back as calmly as possible. Thankfully, Jaws never materialized.

You never know who you’re going to meet out here. We invited a neighbor and his wife over for dinner after Rich helped them by dinghying over to rescue a light that fell into the drink when they were catching their mooring. They had an obviously custom-built boat with an unstayed carbon fiber mast. Turns out Eric was a boat designer well-known for creating similar rigs for the Freedom line of sailboats and had designed this boat for a client who later sold it to them. Arlis was a writer whose books I’m looking forward to checking out, especially a novel about how Shakespeare’s wife, was the real “bard” behind all those tales. They’re just starting their trip around the world. It was refreshing to see that with all their experience (they sailed from England to California many years ago) and Eric’s knowledge about boat design they weren’t so tied to all the bells and whistles that many contributors to the sailing forums seem to think are mission critical.

So far it’s been an amazing adventure and we can’t believe how lucky we are to be here. I’ve never been a morning person, but every day I wake up early, excited about what the day holds, just like I did when I was little. Life is good.