#33 C April 2011 Bimini - Berry Islands - Frazers Hog Cay - Nassau, New Providence - Highbourne Cay - Hawksbill Cay - Warderick Wells



Lookie what we found beach combing!
 Departed Bimini the morning of 20 April and anchored NW Shoal Anchorage and the Berry Islands' Frazers Hog Cay. We were being so badly beat up by the seas that we detoured to New Providence Island and tucked into a marina in Nassau which was a major deviation from our itinerary but long ago we learned not to make plans---but just to have intentions. Nassau is the capitol of the Bahamas at the Tongue of the Ocean and on the NW corner of New Providence Island. We were there 8 years ago via a cruise ship so were looking for a more basic, remote, "real" Bahamas experience this time, however we were most happy to find a safe haven from the high winds. The city offers all you might want in a large city so we took advantage of the grocery store and Starbuck's Internet. We also visited Paradise Island and Atlantis. What a display of opulent and conspicuous consumption! Everything's so Disney Land perfect and plastic.


Glass sculpture just outside entrance to the Atlantis Casino
There's definitely a resort air about the place but it didn't meet our expectations for our out-islands experience. If we'd been blind-folded, deposited there, de-masked and asked to identify our location, we could've easily guessed any coastal city USA. One of the mega-yachts had a Smart Car on its upper deck.

We've seen helicopters but never a car. That boat seemed huge till we went around the corner and there was one 5 stories high that made the Smart Car boat look like a peanut. Another example that size is relative.

Despite the "conspicuous consumption" there's a lot of old world charm and history there if you know where to find it. Fort Fincastle overlooks the harbor and was visit-worthy. We rode a bus that they call "jitneys" out to Cable Beach on Easter Monday and these Nassau folks really know how to take full advantage of a holiday. There were so many cars there and the beach was carpeted in humanity. They were shoulder to shoulder!

We did a "round trip" on that jitney and at the driver's recommendation, we took a 2nd jitney from a nearby stop downtown and rode a huge loop west of Nassau. As in Bimini, I was charmed by the natives. The lady sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked how we were enjoying our visit. We chatted as we rode and she pointed out different sites and areas of the city. She also called our attention to the mango and banana trees that were heavy with almost-ripe fruit. The bus stopped out in the country where one of the passengers got off...and we waited 5-10 minutes thinking that it must be a lay-over point The lady who'd gotten off, came back with a home-made sesame seed cake and a coconut cake for us. How sweet and what wonderful hospitality.

We spent 5 nights in Nassau waiting for the wind to lie down and when we did leave, we had a rolly ride but not as bad as it would've been had we not practiced some patience. 35 miles SE of New Providence, we rendezvoused with our buddy boats in the anchorage at Highbourne Cay, the first inhabited island in the northern Exumas. Since it's a private island with a restricted community, we didn't go ashore but spent the night and enjoyed the crystal clear waters.


These guys swam right by us!
Just north of the island are remains of a ship believed to have sunk in the 16th century and to be one of the oldest wrecks in The Bahamas. Highbourne was developed and run as an aloe plantation in the 1950's but high costs of production and shipping ended that. This little island is only 3 miles long, covering 500 acres. Its name is perfect because it's shaped like the letter H. Its highest point is 100 feet above sea level--one of the highest elevations the the Exumas.










After a night in Highbourne Cay, we arrived at Hawksbill Cay anchorage with the wind still blowing like crazy. Water was not only coming over the bow but up through the windows on the fly bridge! Hawksbill is an uninhabited island with beaches on both sides is said to be one of the most beautiful cays in the entire Exumas.



This was our view as we topped the hill at Hawksbill Cay


Rugged terrain of limestone and coral
 We dinked to shore and followed a marked trail that leads to the ruins of 10 houses and numerous outbuildings. The houses date from the Loyalist period, approximately 1783-1830. Near one of the houses is the remains of a beehive oven surrounded by piles of conch shells. These ovens were not only used for cooking but also to incinerate the conch shells that they used to make mortar to line the walls of the houses. We took our dink to the south end to the most fantastic beach in a little bight where the Exuma sound cuts through the coral and limestone into a little basin and out to the Exuma Bank. As at all the other beaches we've visited this week, we're just taken aback by our footprints being the only ones there and a feeling that no one had ever been there before---and the magnanimous absence of litter.










 

The last day of April we arrived at Warderick Wells Cay mooring field. This is home to the park rangers for Exuma Land and Sea Park. We've been out of civilization for so long that the sight of the Park Headquarters building was thrilling. We went ashore to register and were ecstatic to see tee shirts for sale! Books for sale!  A person working there who was not 1 of us 6! There were no showers nor laundry nor trash disposal nor water nor fuel...but we felt like we were in the midst of big retail!

Our dink and only our footprints!
We hiked quite a few of the trails on Warderick. It's so interesting to see the jagged and pock-marked limestone of which the islands are made. the holes are irregular in diameter and depth. Some hold water. Some accumulated enough soil that little trees are sprouting from them. There's quite a bit of vegetation but much of that is being "pruned" thanks to the hutia, a fluffy rodent about the size of a rat.

They aren't native to this island but were brought here years ago and now their population exceeds 5000. Curly-tailed lizards also abound--and both are harmless to humans.







Hutia
More to come but while we have wifi, need to make hay while the sun shines.

Bill and Laura
Anchored Black Point Settlement,
Middle Exumas
Bahamas

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