Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Sunday afternoon we went beach bobbing as planned – to a little spot called Pirate’s Island.

Pirates Island

We anchored dink off and bobbed in the beautiful water. We chatted for a little while to another couple who then left us to our own devices. Shortly afterwards another few dinks came in – this bobbing lark is catching on LOL. We were very surprised when Scott and Paula come ashore – a couple we had last seen in Grenada.

Scott and Paula

They have a tiny little Jack Russell – called Jack – who seemed to LOVE Richard. They had a great time playing together in the water……

Richard having fun with Jack Richard's new friend Jack

We had a very social afternoon with quite a few people before returning to Morphie for a quiet night and reminiscing about our two Jack Russells Penny and Sandy – RIP girls.

Goodnight Piggy Beach

Monday morning and we picked up our anchor – said goodbye to Piggy Beach – with our chosen destination Bell Island.  We had a great 10 mile downwind sail across the shallow banks and managed to dodge the occasional rain squall.

Sailing downwind

As we approached Bell Island we realised that there really wasn’t that much protection to be found – other than off the rather nice beach –  this is a private island with signs of private luxury around so we didn’t think they would take too kindly to us anchoring there for the night.

Private island luxury Private island luxury 2

So we temporarily dropped the hook – checked the charts – and then picked up again to motor our way three miles around the corner, through the shallows and keeping away from the shifting sandbars, to O’Briens Cay.  Was shallow too – only a foot under the keel at one point.

Shifting sand bars

O’Briens Cay is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park which is 22 miles long and includes 15 large islands and many more tiny ones. This was one of the first protected land and sea park areas ever established back in 1958.  Many of the islands are privately owned (including one that belongs to Johnny Depp) and access on land is by invitation only – such as Bell Island – and others are uninhabited.

We managed to get a good anchoring spot in all sand and watched the clouds roll in – then it rained – never mind, at least it cleaned the salt off Morphie.

Cleaning off the salt

After a while the skies cleared so we went snorkelling – the first stop was to view the wreck of a drug plane. In the middle of a channel with 20 feet of water above it, the coral was in good shape – but the currents were way to strong. We had to swim hard to just stay in place – so a few photos later we gave up and clambered back into dink.

Dead drug plane Dead drug plane 2

We then went across to Pasture Cay and snorkelled there instead.   Very shallow and rocky with hard sand and grassy bottom – but lots of bait fish around, a grouper hiding in the rocks, and a turtle who shot off too quickly for a photo opportunity.

Snorkelling O'Briens 2 Snorkelling O'Briens 3 Snorkelling O'Briens 4 Snorkelling O'Briens

Back on board we enjoyed the sunset before turning in.

Sunset O'Briens

Tuesday morning and we headed off towards Warderick Wells Cay.  We had made a mooring ball reservation and were hoping to get allocated one – although we knew quite a few had been turned away the day before as the preferred northern mooring field only has 22 balls. We were having another great downwind sail and had identified an alternative anchorage if we were unlucky but, yay, we got a ball although weren’t too sure about being allocated no.13!   We arrived at 1pm to an anchorage which has a dark narrow grassy channel winding alongside a very shallow sandbar that dries at low tide – just stunning……

Entering the channel at Warderick Wells

The strong current was pushing us along into the anchorage and we had the tricky job of doing a 180 degree turn to get head to both wind and current to pick up the ball. Thankfully we managed it without any difficulties and we quickly settled in and looked around us.  Amazing place!

Anchorage at Warderick Wells

We were just chilling in the cockpit and Don and Glynis came by from Agua Therapy – so we arranged to meet on the beach for sundowners.  We went in to the warden’s hut to pay our fee and admired the views of Morphie and then checked out the skeleton of the sperm whale that had beached here in the 1990s.

Morphie sitting in front of the sandbar Sperm Whale that got washed up

I had made some popcorn to keep our hunger at bay until we had dinner later – and it came in really handy!  The birds loved it – and so did the Hootiers – little hamster-like rat-without-tail type animals. Oh yes and so did the curly tailed lizards…… Quite a menagerie we had around us – was a great evening with lots of laughs.

Feathered friends Hootier Curley tailed lizard Goodnight Warderick Wells

Glynis and Don

Wednesday and we went hiking along the Boo Boo Trail – named due to the wandering of ghosts who sing hymns from missionary souls who perished here in a shipwreck…. We walked across the top of porous volcanic and limestone rocks which have been eroded over the years, into the creek where a number of different types of mangroves are sprouting, and up a sand path to the top of the hill between palms and heavy foliage.

Boo Boo Hill trail 1 Mangrove nursery Boo Boo Hill trail 2

The trek was worth it – the views were spectacular – wow!

View from Boo Boo hill View from Boo Boo hill 2 View from Boo Boo hill 3 View from Boo Boo hill 4

Later on we went snorkelling. We were hoping for a shark encounter but sadly they skipped town every time we got close to them…… But we did come across some good coral and met a few nice sized fish – and fed the sergeant majors with old soggy Ryvitas. OOPS we found out later that you are not supposed to feed the fish here. Doh!

Snorkelling Warderick2 Snorkelling Warderick 5 Snorkelling Warderick 4 Snorkelling Warderick 3 Snorkelling Warderick

Heading back to Morphie we chatted to Island Breeze – the Island Packet on the ball behind us. So we all headed over to the beach later for sundowners and a bit of bobbing with Larry and Annette. Was a lovely end to a great day.

Panorama of the anchorage Larry and Annette

Thursday morning and we dropped our mooring ball for another 15 mile downwind sail to Hawksbill Cay. As we went in to anchor it was much shallower than we expected from the charts – both electronic and manual – so we had to anchor quite a way off the beach leaving us a bit exposed.  We weren’t really happy as there were a few squalls around with strongish winds so after a few hours we decided to move the three miles up to Shroud Cay, towing dink behind us.

Towing dink behind us

As we came close to the anchorage the skies turned black – so we got our anchor down as quickly as possible although still managed to get soaked when the heavens opened. But at least we were secure and protected. We decided not to explore and spent the rest of the afternoon on board.

Bad weather ahead

Then just as the sun was going down a boat came in – a bit of a mess to be honest – and the guy went forward to ready the anchor keeping his head down the locker while his partner / wife took the helm. She decided to drive very close to us rather than keep equidistant between the anchored boats – he dropped the hook – and then looked up and realised. Well – all hell broke loose – he screamed and shouted, she backed down hard and went sideways. Anyway, they eventually got set but were way too close and the guy took off his gloves, threw them down in anger, and he carried on shouting and screaming and throwing his toys out of the pram whilst readying fenders, just in case!

Not wanting to make the situation worse by asking them to move – we picked up and moved ourselves away from them…. Nicely settled into a new spot we opened a bottle of wine to celebrate! This couple were clearly inexperienced and out of their depth – as evidenced when they later turned on their navigation lights rather than an anchor light before they retired for the night.

Goodnight Shroud Cay

Friday morning we did some boat jobs and made more water.  Then we went exploring the coastline of Shroud Cay in dink…..  Shroud Cay is largely rocky outcrops surrounding a mangrove creek.  These rocks hang over the beautiful blue shallow water looking a bit like gargoyle sentries.  We enjoyed dinking around and looking at the sandbanks that completely dries at low tide – not to mention the picture-perfect desert island retreat for someone….. Morphie is enjoying the clear blue water beneath her too. Stunning place.

Rocky outcrops Sandbanks appearing at low tide Perfect desert island Panorama of Shroud Cay anchorage Dinghy exploring 1 Rocky outcrops 2

Anchored off Shroud Cay

We then headed to the north of the island – there is a mangrove passage that leads right through to a beach on the Atlantic coast. We timed it for almost high water – so the current was running against us a little – and enjoyed the adventure, with Richard looking the dinghy captain part in his Outback Adventurer hat.

Outback Adventurer

Into the mangroves Into the mangroves 2 Into the mangroves 3

High tide in the mangroves

We arrived at the cut to the beach and the water is absolutely churning – so we pulled dink up and tied him to a rock – and went exploring along the beach for a little while.

Atlantic side beach 3Atlantic side beach 2Atlantic side beachWater rushing into the mangroves

We then went bobbing in our very own natural Jacuzzi / bubbly pool as the current raced in and swirled around. We were joined by four guys who had come in via jet skis and chatted to them – turns out they were on a large yacht (which they owned) and invited us aboard for more beers later. We didn’t go – but was a lovely offer nonetheless!

Own personal jacuzzi Bobbing in the jacuzzi

This morning – Saturday – and we picked up anchor and headed out on the 15 mile run to Highbourne Cay across the banks. This is still within the park and a private island – but, unlike many of the others, they have a shop, a bar, a marina, a restaurant, a long beach and visitors are welcome ashore – there is also a BTC tower so hoping for internet on board!   Seems like a long time ago we were connected…. We waved goodbye to our fancy new friends in their large motor yacht called Childs Play and set the sails….

Childs Play

Full sails

We then realised we were in a race with Shango who had picked up behind us – so we started tweaking sails and getting into racing mode. Sadly they were a bit bigger than us and had a larger genoa so they did overtake us but never really pulled away – we managed over 7 knots at 60 degrees to the wind in only a 13 knot breeze….so felt we did OK LOL. Was great fun.


We have now anchored off the beach (opposite the BTC tower!) and watched this very large yacht come in – and within 10 minutes of them settling a seaplane landed behind them and deposited guests – and then buzzed them as they took off!   Plus we have had a 5ft shark swimming under Morphie already.

Sea plane delivering guests Goodbye!

We have just tried to get ashore but encountered a lot of tide coming out of the cut.  We accelerated to try and punch through it but our little 9.8hp outboard didn’t like it and something went pop!  We have limped back to Morphie and are now going to be leaving here in the morning for Eleuthera hoping that we can get it fixed there…..  Shame – we were looking forward to visiting Highbourne Cay Marina.   Never mind!

Bye for now