Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Exumas

We left Nassau bound for Allen's Cay, on the northern end of the Exuma island chain.  We arrived at the small anchorage just before sunset, wedged ourselves in between two catamarans and a sandbar, and got our swim gear out to go ashore.  

Allen's Cay is famous for its giant, swimming iguanas, just like the Galapagos Islands.  It was a hard swim across a strong tidal current to get to shore and discover that all the iguanas had gone to bed for the night.  The anchorage was rough and rolly.  We left early in the morning, headed south, and didn't look back.

The winds were out of the west and there was smoother sailing in the Exuma Sound, behind the protection of the islands.  We grabbed a mooring at Hog Cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park and spent the next two nights there.  Our day and half were spent enjoying the park, hiking, swimming, spelunking, and cliff jumping.  

Warderick Wells, the main island in the park, was an easy swim from the boat.  Covered in a network of trails that allowed access to the islands various secluded white sand beaches, there was no end of exploring to be done.  

The Exuma islands seem to be made primarily of limestone.  The brittle and easily erroded by wind and waves and time, it has been sculpted into jagged, razor cliffs and dramatic sink holes in the hills.  Fresh from a summer climbing and mountaineering in the Rockies, we were eager to go.  

The soft, rotten stone posed many risks.  Many risks were taken.  Handholds broke away.  Waves pounded over cheese grater ledges. Flatulence found release in enclosed caving areas.  But, aside from a few scrapes and cuts, no major mishaps beset us.  The most lasting accident was Nate's run in with a Poison Wood tree.  Imagine Poison Ivy in tree form.

Refreshed from our time anshore, we sallied forth that second morning to sail to Little Galliot Cay, which was to be our last stop before Georgetown on Great Exuma Cay.  We found a secluded anchorage just inside the cut.  

The snorkeling was great.  I scored my first kill with a fishing spear, a Parrot Fish.  It took three stabs to get him, so dull was the spear, so thick the scales, so stupid the fish.  Mark and Nate spotted a 12 ft Tiger Shark off in the blue depths, hunting along the current's edge through the cut.  Abby cooked us dinner.  Pumpkin burritos. Surprisingly delicious. 

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