Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The quality of the Explorer Charts for the Bahamas is legendary, and deserved. While in these islands on First Edition we have the very useless Navionics Platinum chips on our Raymarine E Series Chartplotters, Celebrian has a Garmin and the Explorer charts, electronically. As a result, we fearlessly our pilot boat Celebrian through the reefs and shallows from Compass to Cambridge Cay, where you must pass so close to a rock it has been labeled “Kiss Rock”—pass so close to it that you almost kiss it. At high tide we saw no less than 7 feet, and although the colors of the water may have been misleading, those ole Explorer charts were not.
For our first day activities we walked one of the beaches and joined the rest of the anchorage for a beach party at happy hour. Cambridge is part of Exuma Park which is a “no take” zone, so imagine how hard it was to step around the numerous sand dollars peaking through the shallows without slipping any in the pants pockets. We enjoyed meeting cruisers new to us, but I especially enjoyed the canine participants: Sailor, Chester, and Ginger.
Note to Susan, I made the “spinach brownies” and everyone agreed they were great but ill-named. Hence forth, this concoction is to be called Spinach Tart-ta (rhymes with hay), because it sounded French and elegant, and we were well into Happy Hour during the re-naming.
We ran here to avoid two consecutive cold fronts, predicted to blow 30 and squalls possibly to 40. Fortunately, this is another great place to hole up, and is one of the few refuges from west winds. Cambridge Cay has amazing snorkeling sites and hiking trails. One, called the Sea Aquarium at O’Brien Cay, deserves its name. When you plop in and see the underwater coral and vast array of fish, you feel as if you are yourself in an aquarium. After this, we took in the sites at a sunken airplane nearby, then went to a beach classified as perfect for the grandchildren (boo hoo). At low tide (shortly after we arrived), the waters recede to create a shallow tidal basin with some minor current, the waters are warmed by the sun, like bathwater.
We then dinked to Honeymoon Beach and snorkeled the Coral Gardens. This beach is very tidal and once again the tiny shells and sand dollars, verboten here, are pretty and plentiful.
We spent two days volunteering out time for beach clean up, it is incredible how much crap washes up on the shore: laundry baskets, broken up sailboats, beer and whiskey bottles, miles and miles of polypro rope used by the commercial fishermen. The captains built a picnic table on Mailbox Beach for future generations of beach partyers.
We met lots of nice folks here: Annie and Dietrich on Calliope, Julie and Mark on Rachel, Betsy and Jim on Smiles, Lisa and Dennis on Lady Galadriel, Connie and Steve on Better Days, Vic and Gigi on Gigi’s Island, and Gary and Kim on Solymar. The “host boat”, Rick and Eliena are wonderful people who do a tremendous job helping people get through the very scary approaches and even to choose an anchorage if that is their pleasure. These guys volunteer for the Park and it is like a full time job.