Friday, April 20, 2018

REWIND: Exuma Land and Sea Park - Warderwick Wells

By Kathy 
Actual Dates: March 6th– March 13th2018

Welcome to our first official “rewind” post. This is one I have been thinking about for a while and kind of had a bit of writer’s block. I think it is because Warderwick Wells was such an awesome place and so far has been one of our favorite locations and I was having trouble putting that into words. 

Warderwick Wells is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park and is also home to the headquarters for the park . They have a beautiful protected mooring field for about 20 boats. As I mentioned in the Shroud Cay post, there was another winter front on the way so we had to leave Shroud Cay after one day and head to Warderwick Wells. To get a mooring ball was an experience all by itself. We are lucky in this day and age to have technology where you can read online how things are done. We knew we had to get on the wait list for a ball but there are very specific rules. You have to call on Channel 9 on your VHF the day before (hopefully you are in range of the park) and put your name on the list. If you are calling in right at 9am you are trying to get on the list faster than the other people trying to call in at the same time.  Once you are on the list you have to listen the next morning at 9am to see if you made it on a ball for that day after they know who is departing. I am not good with this kind of uncertainty on reservations so we decided to get a ball a few days before the front arrived which gave us a few days to make it on the list for a ball. We were very fortunate to get a ball that afternoon and we ended up on one of the best balls in the whole mooring field! I will tell you why later. We realized that we were VERY lucky to get the ball a few days early because as the front got closer everyone stayed put on their ball and nobody left the protection of the park. 

This is just one side of the mooring field. SandStar is the closest boat in the picture. 

From a distance this island doesn’t look any different than the other islands but as you get closer you soon see the unbelievable beauty this place has to offer on land and on the water. When we arrived we still didn’t know if we had a mooring ball so we picked up one in the Emerald Rock mooring field. It is very close to the other mooring field  but it is completely exposed so it is not a good place to wait out a front. But it was a lot of fun with calm weather and the kids had a blast when we moored close to a swim platform.

The kids having fun on the swim platform in the Emerald Rock mooring field. 

Emma doing her best super hero pose!

Time to swim back to the boat!

That afternoon we were assigned ball #9. So why is that so special? Well come to find out we had a fish village living right under our boat. Years ago there was a boat that caught fire and sunk on ball #9 and there is still a big part of it on the bottom of the mooring field that is now home to many, many, many fish and a couple of very big lobster. The water was so clear we could see the remains of the boat all of the time. If the tide and wind was right, the sunken boat would be directly off the back of our boat so the kids could just snorkel it right off the back. 

We ended up staying here for a week. Although we were here to wait out some bad weather we did have plenty of time to enjoy the park in good weather. Bad weather for us usually means high winds that clock around in all directions that can bring waves and make living on a boat uncomfortable.  We did get some rain but it really wasn’t much so we had lots of time to have fun. We also had plenty of time to relax and route plan for our trip down to George Town and we found some really old movies to rent at the ranger station. Sam loved the 1980’s movie Short Circuit. Dan also MacGyvered a way for us to get internet to download some weather. He hoisted my cell phone up the mast and it was just high enough to get a little bit of coverage to make it a hotspot.  But we had to be careful with our data since I needed my actual phone to renew the data plan and that was up the mast. 

Chocolate can always make you feel better when the weather isn't great! 

Here are some of the other highlights of our time in Warderwick Wells: 

The Hiking:
The island is full of hiking trails. We planned to hike the trail that should have been about a two hour hike. So we took drinking water for a two hour hike. Sam and Jack were also very smart to pack their lunch and Sam packed a few extra snacks too. When we were hiking on the ocean side we missed the turn for the trail and ended up on a much longer trail and our two hour hike ended up being a four hour hike. The Gilligan’s Island song kept playing in my head… “Three hour tour”….. The kids did amazing and it was beautiful. When we got close to end of trail they raced to the ranger station to get Gatorade and a Snickers bar. Everyone was exhausted and slept very well that night. 

Sam checking out the local wildlife in the limestone marsh area. You can barely see the lizard. 

Making our way through the marsh.

This was the sign by the bridge in the picture above. A little bit smaller than the Sunshine Causeway back in St. Pete. 
We made our way to the top off a hill and now we can see the ocean. 

A beautiful spot on the ocean side. Little did we know we had missed our turn on the trail! 
Towards the end of the hike (when everyone was tired and thirsty) Sam accidentally left his backpack at our rest stop. Luckily it was on the side of the island we could get to by dinghy after we made it back to the ranger station. We did make him swim for it! 

Boo-Boo Hill: 
This is another trail in the park and it is a special one. At the top of Boo-Boo Hill is a pile of painted driftwood that are left by all of the boats that visit the park. We didn’t have any paint but we did make one with Sharpie markers and left it on the pile. Sam also got a little bonus and found a beautiful painted rock on Boo-Boo Hill. It was part of the painted rock movement that is very popular in the states. This one was from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We still have it and he is looking for the perfect spot to re-hide it for the next person. 

Our sign is ready to go! 

At the top of Boo-Boo Hill.

Trying to find the perfect spot! 

Sam in deep thought on top of the hill. 

Emma chillin' on top of the Boo!

Is it a bird, a plane, or Superman! 
The beautiful rock from OBX Rocks that Sam found. Now he needs to find the perfect spot to hide it for somebody else. 

Below the Surface: 
Warderwick Wells also has some great things to see underwater. We were able to snorkel a few reefs in addition to our private boat wreck under our boat. There were also a beautiful spotted eagle ray that swam up and down the mooring field. We named him Harry and I tried to chase him on the paddle board to get a good underwater picture but he was a little faster than my paddling abilities. Spotted eagle rays look a lot different from other rays. Their heads are alien-like in shape. They are also really big. Harry was about 5 ft wide and 7 ft long  to the tip of his tail. 

Cool snorkeling spot called Emerald Rock.



Chilly Jack!
Jack got the best picture of Harry the Spotted Eagle Ray. It is hard to tell how big he really is! 

Mooring Field:
For being such a small mooring field with about 20 mooring balls it was a pretty social place. We went to a couple of cruiser happy hours on the beach that include the cruisers and the wardens at the park and we met some very cool people. Unfortunately, I was talking so much I forgot to snap a few pictures during our happy hour. We made some new friends on SV Mariposa at one of the happy hours and realized we briefly met way back when we were in the Abacos in January. 

Our new friends Phil and Michelle from SV Mariposa enjoying appetizers and sundowners. 

The mooring field was also so close to land the kids were able to paddle over to the beach to play Bucket Ball and swim back on the paddle board. We could watch them from the boat the whole time.  

The kids heading back from playing on the beach. 

They are almost home! 

We feel very fortunate to have been “stuck” in such a wonderful place for a week . We will never forget Warderwick Wells. 

What a sunset!

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