May 13-16th, Warderick Wells
From our logbook:
- Depart: 1145, Cambridge Cay, Exumas
- Arrive: 1550, Warderick Wells, Exumas
- Distance: 27.1 miles
- Log: 6236.5-6263.6
- Engine Hours: 692.7-696.9
- Weather: Fair, Clear
- Wind: light and variable out of the SE
- Crew: Porter sails with Anything Goes. Kate joins Patronus
- Fishing Report: 1330 Mahi Mahi. 40”
We arrived in beautiful Warderick Wells at 1550 and took a park mooring, E22, as per the instructions from the Park Warden over the VHF. It was hot and still. We hung out on Patronus with Wendy and Craig, discussing the next two weeks of our Bahamas Tour. For dinner, we had…..wait for it…..Mahi Mahi. With fried plantains. The kids did origami, Chris practiced guitar, and I worked on our blog. Life is good….
“I am munching on bacon while stirring the vanilla pudding that is to be my dessert. I love my life.” –Erica Conway
Overnight, the wind picked up. The winds of change were not kind to Patronus. When day broke, Porter was not in a happy mood. We had a rough morning trying to get him to do his schoolwork. The kids were generally so great about getting their schooling done each day. Early risers, they were typically half way through by the time I woke up and got my act together. We had an efficient and uncomplicated routine for the work they had to do each day (spelling, vocabulary, math, and reading). They could generally get through this work independently, asking questions and getting help from me as needed. Special trips, projects, discussions, and experiments were done outside of school hours and almost never felt like “learning”. But every once in awhile, one or more of the kids would wake up on the wrong side of the keel and give us a hard time. We knew it was understandable for a child to just simply not be in the mood to work every once in a while, so we tried to be flexible. At this point, it helped that we had long since finished the required curriculum and were just enriching their subjects with the work they were doing. But it is still hard to deal with a crankpot 6-year-old first thing in the morning!
Uh oh. The winds weren’t done with us. A few hours later, my back and neck went out. By mid-afternoon, Bryson and Reese must have been thrilled to go to AG for a sleepover. Chris and Porter ate dinner and watched Rocky 2 while I went to bed early to sleep through the pain. May 14th was a rare dud.
May 15th: Bryson and Reese came back to Patronus and everyone did their schoolwork like industrious little students. We were back in business. Yes! We took a break to call our niece and cousin Hazel for her birthday. The satellite phone worked! We did not typically have luck getting through to our relatives and friends on their special days this year. Hazel was one of the few people we actually got through to ON her birthday.
We took a break and set off to snorkel near the Exumas Land and Sea Park headquarters. We saw GIANT lobsters, grouper, angelfish, and triggerfish. The water was choppy but we felt like we were snorkeling in a fancy fish tank that had been tricked out with every brightly-colored plant decoration they could find in Petco.
After lunch and a bit more schoolwork, we worked on making our sign for Boo Boo Hill. Boo Boo Hill is a short hike away from the Park Headquarters. The hill overlooks the sea and is a special spot for cruisers to leave their mark. Yachts passing through carve a wooden sign with their boat name to let others know: “We were here”.
We spent some time visiting the headquarters and chatting with the Park Warden, who lives on this small island all alone (along with thousands of hutias, a nocturnal animal that is apparently decimating the flora of the island). I thought about what it might be like to live on this island all by myself for months at a time. Never seeing a store. Never being in a building other than the one I was standing in. It wouldn’t be lonely. Sailors come visit every day. It would be interesting to meet the wide variety of personalities that make up the cruising community. It obviously takes someone with a deep commitment to preserving the environment. And perhaps a flair for adventure, roughing it, and living off the grid.
We left HQ and walked across the beach, investigating the remains of a 52’ sperm whale that was found in July of 1995. This is the type of science lesson that you simply can’t get from reading a textbook or googling “sperm whale”. None of us will forget the amazing size and presence of such a large animal.
We continued on, across a barren field. Apparently the hutias have been here. All told, the hike was not more than a mile away, but we must have passed 10 signs on the way. That was fine with us. The signs were very colorful and cute. Up the hill we went and we found the very cool pile of driftwood boat name signs. We poked around, looking for boats that we have met and finding a spot to plant our own signs. We liked the idea that our signs would be there for a long time, but eventually would be swept away by the power of nature. Perhaps our sign is already floating across the sea…
We looked next for the blow holes that we read about. The landscape was rocky and windswept. Bryson found a blow hole and waited patiently, but nothing happened. Patience paid off, and the blow hole was pretty impressive.
We raced our dinghies back to the anchorage and I worked on sharing pictures with Maggie that afternoon. I tried my hand at making rotis from scratch. They were delicious. Originated in Trinidad, think calzone or empanadas with traditional Caribbean filling. Here is an authentic recipe if you want a little taste of the Caribbean as the temperatures plummet here in the northern latitudes…
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- ¼ c oil
- 1 c water
- 1 T butter, melted
- 3-4 c filling
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Gradually add oil and water while mixing and kneading. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Divide dough into 4-6 balls. Flatten each slightly and roll out into 8 inch squares. Fill the middle of each square with about ½ c filling. Wrap the dough around the mixture to seal the filling inside.
To cook, place butter in a skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and fry the rotis 2-3 minutes, until crust is lightly browned. Turn and cook on other side. Serve immediately.
- 2 T butter, melted
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and diced
- 1 ¼ c water
- 1 ½ T curry powder
- 1 t red hot sauce
- 1/8 t salt
- 16 oz can chickpeas, drained
Place butter garlic, and onion in a skillet and sauté 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add potato, water, curry, hot sauce, and salt and cook 15 minutes, until potatoes are soft and mushy. Add chickpeas and cook 5-10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Serves 4-6
The next morning, we all slept late and Chris made scones for breakfast. The kids did their schoolwork while Chris and I swam to the beach to explore. (Kids doing school while mom sleeps and swims. You MIGHT be getting the wrong idea of homeschooling. I promise it isn’t always like this.) Next thing we knew, it was 1330 and it was time to move. We sailed over to Emerald Rock, near the Park Headquarters. This mooring field was close to the cut between the islands. We were leaving at first light the next morning and wanted to be as close to the cut as possible, since it was better to navigate the shallow Bahamian waters with the sun directly overhead. But we were sailing 57 miles the next day and couldn’t very well leave Warderick Wells AND arrive 57 miles later all during bright sunlight! (refresher course: we travel at an average of 7 knots per hour)
Wendy and Craig came over for a post-sail beer (that 4.8 miles really took it out of us…). Once we were ready to motivate again, we hopped in our dinghies with the kids to go ambush the crew of the R/V Coral Reef. R/V means Research Vessel, as opposed to S/V Patronus which is a Sailing Vessel.
The Coral Reef is a large ship that takes students and scientists all over the Bahamas for research studies, data collection, and other explorations. The captain welcomed our small circus aboard, gave us a tour, and introduced us to the crew. There was a group of college students aboard. They were on a two week research trip and had spent the night before looking for hutias. The kids were shy, but eventually asked questions and we all learned a lot. Another big old DONE stamp for science class…
At 1800 hours, we headed back to Patronus for a dinner of chicken and rice. As we stepped aboard, a large black bird flew out of the companionway. Uh oh. What are the chances that the bird would choose our bed to go to the bathroom THREE TIMES? We went to bed early after cleaning up the mess so that we could be ready for our early departure. Our time in the Exumas had ended and it took just 5 “short” posts for me to tell you about it! Believe it or not, we hadn’t even scratched the surface of this beautiful chain of islands!
P.S. I need ideas on which stories to include in my book, so leave a comment below or email us at email@example.com if you particularly enjoyed reading about any of our Exuma adventures!