Sunday, February 22, 2009

Exuma Land and Sea Park

We are at the Exuma Land and Sea Park, a really special place where everything within the park is protected. For example there are 31 times more conch in the park than outside the park. The conch in the park help the outside population continue to be strong. The same goes for many of other species. On a snorkeling expedition we saw lobster more than half the size of Alistair. Huge guys. Laurel saw her first shark, while in the water ( nurse shark ) fairly benign guys, if you leave them be. There are also excellent trails over sand and old coral, the coral being very sharp. Dakota took a spill yesterday and really did a job to his knee.

One of our walks took us to blowholes, we went with a large group of folks from other boats and everyone had a great time standing over the holes and watching hats fly off and their hair stand straight up, really fun! Above the boys fed these local birds sugar. The park people call them sugar birds, and with a little of the sweet stuff they will come and eat out of your proverbial hand.

Here is Alistair in the ribs of a sperm whale skeleton which is mounted on the main beach. Unfortunately this whale succumbed to plastic, bags and the such.

A local tradition is to climb Boo Boo Hill, so named because of ghosts and make a sign with your boat name and crew. There are literally hundreds, all different styles and some beautifull and creative. Ours was on the spot, so it got ye ol sharpie treatment.

Here are the kiddos over one of the blowholes, notice Dakota's hair standing on end. One of the cruisers we were with even sat on one. I think he was looking to get the full experience.

The above and the following photos are at Norman Cay, were we spent a couple of days. They have beautiful flats with a lot of conch ( we made conch pizza! ) and a lot of life. We saw a baby black tipped shark, a turtle, fish and sting rays, the kids also found shells and sand dollars, the beaches are really spectacular with the many shades of really clear blue that typify the Exumas.

I had lost my hat while at the top of the mast and although Laurel rowed after it we couldn't find it, strangely enough on a walk through Norman Cay later, there was a hat hanging on a tree from a coffee shop in Oriental, NC . So I figured it was serendipity and now have a new hat.
This blue crab was swimming along on the flats, we interrupted his swim momentarily but put him back. He concealed himself by completely burying himself in the sand. I only got him by scooping him out of the sand with a flip flop!

We snorkled this sunken plane in Norman Cay, very cool, it was in very shallow water and so we could get a really good look at everything. At one point I dove to look at the fish under the plane and noticed not two feet from my face a huge stingray buried in the sand. Luckily he didn't move at all, although I steered clear of him after that.
While at Norman Cay we met Kasey and his two friends who were staying with friends on their Catamaran. They were from Germany and hardcore kite surfers and gave us a spectacular show right off our stern. Below is Kasey as he zooms by, they were really good with the kids. Great guys.

The Exumas are truly beautiful, with not only the white sand beaches that you would expect but also beautiful rocky landscape, some of it reminiscent of Maine, it's a bit more desolate out here and less spoiled by man than other places. The nights in the Bahamas have also been superb. With little to no light coming off the Cays the sky is lit with stars, a humbling sight. We've found Bahamians to be friendly and happy to share their land with us, we are gratefull.
The weather has been a bit tough as of late, at a bonfire last night I spoke with a cruiser who's been coming here for 7 years. He said that usually you get 4 to 5 good days a week in the winter and then it blows for 2. Seems that the ratio has been inverted, as we've had many, many days of winds in the 20 knots plus range. We're hoping for milder conditions as the season continues. ( Of course this doesn't compare with 8-10 inches of snow at a time, but is what we're living through here... perspective you know..)
Hope you're all well, C.


Gail said...

Hey you guys. Sounds like you've found Valhalla. At this very moment we in Brunswick are awaiting the arrival of yet another nor'easter, beginning with rain and ending with a foot of snow. But isn't that why we live in Maine, for the full range of weather?....unless we escape to the tropics on a sailboat, that is.
Do stay in touch. It's great to hear your stories and see the pix of you all.

Fiona said...

WOW. I am very jealous - what an incredible experience for you all. Loved the photos. Fiona Marshall