We’ve been buzzing around a lot in the last week, both in the mother ship Calypso and in the dink (clever name yet to be determined) – from Staniel Cay up as far as Normans Cay (former base of Colombian drug lord Carlos Lehder).
The wrecked drug-running plane at Norman’s Cay is one of the area’s most noteworthy attractions.
To our peril, as it turns out, since there is no gasoline to be had at the nearest marina, Staniel Cay. We have about 3 gallons of dinghy fuel left, so we’ve been reduced to dragging ourselves around by our own muscle today. Me on my kayak, and Rick on the SUP. Since the current and/or the wind is always against, this can be a tiring exercise.
Perhaps that’s best, since exercise can be a cleansing experience. And we could use a little bit of cleansing after Sunday’s Super Bowl party at Compass Cay. A good excuse for a party, and there were several from which to choose, including the ones at Lorraine’s Café in Black Point and Staniel Cay Yacht Club.
We chose Compass’ party because it seemed the most low-key; basically an excuse for Compass Cay marina denizens to eat and drink with a football game on in the background. That we did. The spread was impressive – conch salad, grouper nuggets, fried lobster, ribs, turkey, etc. It was BYO, and I left my bottle(s) on the boat, so that I had to walk down the dock and really think about whether I should have that next round. It seemed to work, since I woke up earlier than I have most of the week, finished my laundry, and we made it to Pipe Creek by lunch.
Pipe Creek isn’t a “creek” per se. It’s really the area between Pipe Cay and some smaller cays which turns into a giant sandbar at low tide, but has some channels running through it (even one with mooring balls and a few boats tucked in it).
Rick beach combs at Pipe Creek, while a moored boat seems stuck in the sand here. We had paddled here, and had to race against low tide, since we were running out of water.
This area captured my fancy – I mean, it’s a giant beach! — when we first visited the Exumas by land several years ago, staying at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. It’s kind of surreal to be anchored in the middle of it right now. Plus, I’ve found quite a beachcombing prize here.
I found this giant sea biscuit near Pipe Cay. As a point of reference, it’s sitting on a dinner plate.
Having been in the Exumas for over a month now, it’s almost become easy to be blasé about the amazing beaches here. It’s impossible not to find one; each little cay has several from which to choose. So one when grabs my attention, it has something special. And the beach that most recently caught my eye was on the Exuma Sound side of Shroud Cay. Part of what makes it so amazing is the anticipation of getting there.
Shroud Cay is the northernmost cay in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, and it’s like a miniature version of Andros in that it’s really several islands divided by mangrove creeks and swamps. We’d motored here on a dead calm day and picked up a mooring ball on the northwest side of the cay.
On calm days, the horizon and sky blend into each other; here (left), an approaching catamaran looks like its hovering above the water. Right is the view from our mooring ball.
We took a long dinghy ride (using what we now know to be precious gasoline) through one of the mangrove creeks that is navigable by motorized vessel even at low tide. The creek bends and curls through mangroves, but its bottom is mostly sand, so instead of looking like a murky swamp, it’s crystal clear. You putter and putter along, not knowing what awaits you at the end.
The blue mangrove creek at the north end of Shroud Cay.
The creek ends in a deep sapphire blue pool surrounded by a shallow basin of lighter blue water. And then white sand spreading alongside Exuma Sound on either side.
This Google Earth image shows astounding detail of the creek emptying into Exuma Sound.
The deep blue of the creek entering Exuma Sound (top left), and the Sound-side beach.
There is a ridge backing the entire beachfront; ledges of crumbly limestone topped by sea grapes and palms. When you climb the ridge, you get a bird’s eye view of both the creek system and the beach.
The views from atop the ridge (all of maybe 30 feet — the Bahamas are flat!)
I probably could have stayed here for days, but needed to head south to fill the more prosaic needs of provisioning and laundry. As always, the reality of “life” – simple as it is – intrudes here.