Still inside the boundaries of the Exuma Land and Sea Park we sailed from Warderick Wells Cay to Cambridge Cay (aka Little Bells Cay). Some other cruisers told us the diving and snorkeling at Cambridge Cay was better than Warderick Wells Cay. We were really impressed with Warrick Wells Cay so, we had to go and see for ourselves.
It was a short sail, just 20 miles. Because of the depth of The Puffster’s keel (7 ft), we needed to go out a cut between two cays onto the ocean and back in again at Cambridge. The inner passage was a little too shallow for my comfort level. The cuts between the cays are known to rage. Rage is a phenomenon that happens when the current is going against the wind through the cut and large breaking waves form. It can make for a very uncomfortable few minutes. Worse case scenario is the current will overpower the engine turning the boat and put us on the rocks. It is always best to do these passes at slack tide with a minimal current. But since we were leaving through one cut and arriving at another, doing both at slack tide was not really an option. Looking at the charts and considering the arrival cut was narrowest and potentially roughest, we decided to time our arrival for slack tide and exited with a strong outgoing tide and the wind against us – not good. Our exit was a little white knuckled (sorry – no pictures as we were too busy hanging on for dear life). This is the first time on Cream Puff we have seen the bow of the boat completely disappear into the water and had water roll over the top of the cabin. The astonishing part of this is it wasn’t very windy. I can’t imagine the conditions on a windy day.
The good part is we survived to tell the tale and picked up a mooring buoy in Cambridge Cay. Because of the sheer size of the park, it is impossible for the Park Wardens to police the entire area. The moorings are maintained by the park and the fees collected are put toward the maintenance. To collect the fees, the park has set up an honor system of pay stations on the beaches. The pay station has a pen, envelopes with rates and a locked box in which to deposit the money. They only take cash. It was nice to see most of the boats pay. A few did not. The way we see it, the Bahamas National Trust has set up a place like nowhere else on earth. They provide a safe location to secure the boat. They provide dinghy moorings at the more popular dive sites. They patrol the area and every person we have met are as friendly as a puppy. We were always greeted with a smile. And, we had the best time ever. The very least we can do is pay.
Cambridge Cay was impressive. Cindy and I agree the Exuma Land and Sea Park has been the highlight of our travels, so far. We spent a couple of days exploring the hiking trails and swimming coral heads. We then decided to move to O’Breins Cay. It was the next cay to the north and is across from Little Halls Pond Cay, which is a private island owned by Johnny Depp. A little know fact about Johnny Depp. He travels with his pirate costume. When he gets some time in his busy schedule, he will put on the costume and visit a local children’s hospital in full Captain Jack Sparrow garb and makeup. He has made unscheduled appearances all over the world. It seems fitting the Pirate of the Caribbean should have an island in such a beautiful place. We later learned that much of the footage for the movies was shot in this area. We didn’t see Mr. Depp and the lights were not on. We assume he wasn’t home. Hopefully he is making a young kid’s day somewhere.
We went swimming in a site called The Aquarium. The name is aptly fitting. We both have no doubt this area will be the area from which we measure all others. The water was crystal clear (some of the clearest in the world we were told). The fish were abundant and the coral heads were colorful and spectacular.
Above is the last picture our underwater camera took before it decided not to be waterproof anymore. Our Nikon CoolPix is now a Nikon WetPix. We have not had much luck with personal electronic devices in the past year. So far in addition to the camera, we have had three cell phones crap out, a handheld depth finder quit working, my iPod hard drive crashed, a weather station sensor stopped sensing, a rapid read cooking thermometer went kaput, and several LED flashlights stopped LEDing. Granted, one of the cell phones was because I jumped into a swimming pool with it in my pocket. I managed to repair my iPod by installing a new hard drive (thanks to The University of YouTube). Normally, I would have been really pissed a $300 camera broke. But something good has happened. I am in a peaceful place and am enjoyed everything around me. The stars are bright. The scenery is to die for. The waters are clear and life is very good. It is going to take a little more than a broken camera to get me out of this state of mind.