Friday, May 29, 2015

New Video: The Climb Up Monument Hill

While we were in Georgetown, in the Exumas, Bahamas, we tackled the climb to the top of monument hill. There is, of course, a monument there, and we wanted to see it. So, we grabbed Guincha, and some water, and up we went!

Our plan was to find a trail to the top, and we did, but later we found out that there is a much easier trail than the one that we followed. Figures. It was pretty steep at a few places, but really not that bad. The view from the top was worth the effort.

Joyce found out that the monument was originally used as a marker to let passing ships know that there were provisions here, in town. Now, it is used as a trailhead, and as a nesting location for Osprey.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Warderick Wells - Boo hoo! (first post by Joyce, previously stricken by stage fright)

We sailed to Warderick Wells Cay from Staniel Cay as a stopover on our way back to Nassau. Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The Exumas Land and Sea Park was established by the Bahamian Parliament in 1958 and encompasses 176 square miles. It is a no-take zone for both land and sea - no shells, no conch, fish, plant life etc. The Bahamas National Trust, a non-profit, non-governmental agency manages this park and all 27 national parks of protected areas in the Bahamas.

Warderick Wells houses the headquarters for the Exumas Land and Sea Park. There are no facilities such as provisions, restrooms or trash dumping here. There is Wifi access for a fee and ice is available. It is a beautiful cay with rocky bluffs, sand dunes, mangrove creeks and sand flats. Mooring balls are set in a strip of deep blue water. Pets are allowed on the beaches, but not on the numerous trails. We were told that this is to protect the wildlife. Too bad, because Guincha loves to lead long hikes in the hot sun, as you saw on our hike up Monument Hill in Georgetown. We did see several of the curly tailed lizards running about. However,we were not lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the endangered hutia. Hutia are large nocturnal rodents about the size of a rabbit or guinea pig and are the only land mammal native to the Bahamas.

As we pulled our dinghy up to the beach, we were greeted by the skeleton of a 52 foot sperm whale, which washed up on the beach in 1995. It supposedly died from eating a plastic bag.

Snorkeling areas are abundant in the crystal clear water, but currents are extremely strong and we never did get the timing right to see those sites during our short stay.

One very intriguing feature of Warderick Wells are the Stromatolites. They are layers of lime-secreting bacteria trapped with sand and sediment and are alive and growing like coral reefs. These rare prehistoric rocks produce high amounts of oxygen and are believed to have played a valuable role in the development of earth's atmosphere three and a half billion years ago. The only open marine environment where modern stromatolites are known to prosper is the Exuma Cays.

At Waderick Wells, the best spots are on the mooring balls, and we called the day before to see about getting one the next day. We were told "We do not take reservations, we give them out the same day by order of arrival, but we will put you on the list for tomorrow". ??? OK, so when we got there, we radio'd in and were assigned #11. Really? #11? The number 11 is, by the way, shrouded in superstition and controversy. As one number higher than 10, it is seen in the bible as the opposite of 10, representing disorder, irresponsibility, and judgement. The apostle John saw 11 things in connection with the final judgement in Revelations 20:12-14. The significance of September 11 is undeniable, and even the Free-Masons held the numbers 11 and 33 as extremely significant. But, hey, this is just a mooring ball. So, we tied up, no problem.

That night, the wind came up, and although we were safely tied up to mooring 11, the sound of howling wind in the rigging woke me up. A strange wail, the rigging was making sounds like I never heard before. It was a high pitched sound, like wind sometimes makes as it works it's way through the wires of the rigging, but it was also making another sound, lower in pitch, and it sounded like "Ow, wow, wow". I saw flashes of lightning through the port, and went up on deck to see what we were in for. The boat had turned 180 degrees on the mooring, and was facing the screaming wind. I worked my way forward, to check the lines we had fastened to the mooring ball. I looked down at the mooring ball, and saw the number 11 in the reflection of the lightning that was building around us. But, I saw something else too. The silhouette of a man, a black outline of a man with a hat and coat standing on the beach only 40 feet from me. His coat was blowing in the wind, his legs firmly planted on the rocks below him, arms hanging straight down at his sides. I could not see his face, but in the next flash of lightning, his mouth was open, and I could hear the rigging saying " How, how, how"... Goosebumps all over, I ran inside, and closed the door, afraid to look outside and see him again. I woke Chris up, and he looked around for the man, but he was gone. We were wide awake now, and over coffee, we decided to look around at dawn, several hours away. By morning, the sky was clear and the wind was gone. We found out that morning, about the legend of Boo-Boo Hill.

There are 7 miles of walking trails, including the popular Boo-Boo Hill, not Boo hoo. The top of the hill provides a fantastic panoramic view. This hill is so named because it is haunted by the souls of a missionary ship that crashed into the reef below, sinking and taking everyone on board with it, on a stormy night like the one we just had. Legend has told that you can hear the souls singing on moonlit nights. You can also hear them whispering through the nearby blowholes. At the top of Boo-Boo Hill stands a pile of driftwood, inscribed with names of vessels who have visited. The plaques and signs are offering to Neptune in exchange for safe passage and to soothe the haunted souls. I climbed the hill with our backpack full of painting supplies, while Chris hauled a rather large chunk of driftwood that we found. We painted it at the top of the hill and presented it. And, you know, we have had safe passages!