Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Exuma Land and Sea Park

What I should be showing you is the astounding underwater photos of the drift snorkel we did in Wax Cay Cut. The cuts between the islands have a fair amount of tidal current. We take the dinghy up current, jump in the water and hold onto the dinghy painter (tie up line) – kind of like a security blanket in the deep blue- and then drift. Back to the photos, first there’s this great picture of a small gray reef shark lurking over the bottom sand near the reef edge. Then the award winning shot of the two foot wide hawksbill turtle with his massive yellow head and beak, getting his back cleaned by three hungry and cooperative remora fish. The only issue was as I was swimming along I glanced down toward the camera case and saw that the back had popped open, flooding the poor little Nikon Coolpix that used to be dryly tucked away in its nest. Just like cell phones, you are only supposed to wash them every 6 months with fresh water, never with salt water. So far this trip has been tough on cameras. We are down two underwater cameras and one land camera.  You shouldn’t apparently wash the SD memory cards in saltwater either. The sacrifices we endure to bring this blog to our reader.
We sat through a 3 day cold front packaged and delivered from the US east coast to the Bahamas. The trouble with these fronts is that they clock the winds around typically east to south to west and finally north. So an anchorage that is normally calm and secure in the prevailing easterly trade winds can become untenable as the winds clock to the west and northwest. Normans Cay turned out to be a great place to sit this out. Lots of wind in the 20’s to low 30’s knots, but no waves. We headed south after the blow was over. The front caused the water temperature to drop to the low-70’s – clearly below the legal swimming level. Don’t worry too much about us, the water got legal again within a few days. It is now 79*F.
HawksbillIMG_2092 Chris dug out her blowup kayak and did a little creek exploring inside the mangroves at Hawksbill Cay.
 HawksbillIMG_2075 Hawksbill Cay is within the Exuma Park boundaries. They offer a lot of mooring balls to visiting boats. These help to keep the anchors from tearing up the reefs and grass beds on the bottom. There was a good wind and a bit of current when we went to pickup our mooring ball. This is the boat pole, after it got folded in two in the process during the CF of a pickup. It was a less than graceful mooring pickup.
After a quick trip into the man-cave, along with the drilling of a few holes and we have a completely repaired and functional boat pole. This one should last at least a few weeks.
Hawksbill Cay on the West side looking North.
Hawksbill had a set of houses making up a sisal plantation. These were created by Loyalists who left the newly formed US in the late 1700’s and ran the plantation into the 1800’s. One rugged place to eek out a living farming.
This is the remains of the beehive oven used for cooking. The pile of conch shells to the right were also incinerated to make mortar for the building walls.
A friendly curly tailed lizard, one of the current plantation inhabitants. These guys walk out into the trail and seem to look at you with a quizzical look – like, what are doing here mon?
The trail leads across the island to the Exuma Sound side, i.e. the Atlantic.
Here you get plastic trash being blown onto the beaches by the prevailing easterly winds, some of it from far away. Visitors to this beach, probably old hippies, use the Arlo Gutherie approach to trash: It’s better to have one big pile of shit, then many small ones. As they stroll the beach they pickup some plastic trash and take it back to this somewhat artistic colorful pile. What doesn’t end up on the beach is, unfortunately, is swallowed by many of the sea critters.
And as was standard practice in Panama, the shoes washed up on the beach are all left shoes.

1 comment:

  1. Drift dives can be awesome. We did a stunning drift dive through a small reef pass in Taha'a, French Poynesia. The South Pass of Fakarava Atoll is also fabulous. Roland was on the bow yelling "ROCKS!" as we motored through. "Calm down". I say. "The depth sounder reads 85ft"
    Anon E. Mouse/ Argonaut