Warderick Wells Cay, Bahamas

January 31-February 3, 2021

On Sunday, we had a sporty upwind sail to Warderick Wells.  It’s been so long, I guess we forgot that “gentlemen never sail to weather”!  We sailed along for a few hours, and arrived in the Exumas Land and Sea Park.  This is the oldest protected area in the Bahamas.  It’s 176 square miles of pristine water and marine life.  Fishing is strictly forbidden.  The whole area is a “no take” zone.  It was hard for Jeff to stow his fishing poles below. 

Warderick Wells is a somewhat famous stop in the cruising community.  It is a really cool horse shoe shaped anchorage, with a big sand flat in the middle that is barely awash at low tide.   The first day, we went into the beach to see the high lights – the skeleton of Stinky the Pilot whale at the ranger station, the huge sperm whale skeleton they’ve put back together on the main beach (at 53 ft long, it’s almost the same length as our boat), and some hiking trails.  Hiking is great to stretch our legs a bit.  We hiked to the top of Boo Boo Hill, so named because you are supposed to hear the wailing of the lost souls from a terrible ship wreck here over a hundred years ago.  We didn’t see any ghosts, but we hiked through a couple different micro climates, and enjoyed a spectacular view.  The way the cliffs have eroded has also created cool blow holes, but they weren’t very active because the wind was out of the west.

It’s lucky we enjoyed the island right away, because that night the wind went up to gale strength again, blowing a steady 30 knots, gusting to 40, for the next 36 hours.  It was strangely sunny and warm, but the waves were too big to go anywhere in the dinghy, so we hunkered down on the boat, watching “the Americans” (thank you Jonah!), baking bread, and cooking a pretty decent Persian Fish Stew we’d never made before.

A note on the moorings at Wardrick Wells, since we got to know ours so well:  They are very well maintained.  There are 3 “large boat moorings” just outside the horseshoe shaped channel, for boats over 55 ft, or drawing more than 6 ft.  We draw 7.5, so we took the first of these.  The pennants are heavy triple strand rope, as thick as my arm, with a smooth steel eye to prevent chafing.  The pennant is very short, just shy of being long enough to pull up to deck level to thread your lines through the eye.  I was able to grab the float with the boat hook with no issue, but there was less than a foot of light line connecting it to the pennant.  As soon as it loaded up, I couldn’t release the boat hook to free up a hand to lean overboard to thread the eye, so Jeff had to leave the helm and run forward to give me a hand.  We almost lost the boat hook and the pennant, but a miss is as good as a mile! 

After a couple days of being pinned down by weather, we were sick of the view no matter how beautiful.  This morning, February 3rd, we dropped the giant mooring pennant, and headed out to Staniel Cay.  It was a perfect day of downwind sailing.  We sailed 24 miles, on two huge jibes, to go 16 miles as the crow flies.  We got there in time to take F luffy into the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for rum punch and a pizza.  YUM!