Hawksbill Cay Round II

Sat 3 Apr 2010 23:22
24:28.088 N
76:46.060 W

Yesterday we had a wonderful sail to Warderick Wells, passing close John Depp's island, Little Hall's Pond. He has very well appointed beaches--with lawn chairs and shade huts and lots of small water craft. Well done. The wind is still from the NE, making the Banks side the place for us, and we were able to tuck in close to all the cays and get good looks at them as we wended our way in and around little outcroppings and islandettes to Warderick.

For the night, we pulled into our perfect beach from our last visit to Warderick, a horseshoe beach on the backside of Narrow Water Cay. It felt a little bit like a homecoming. Several enormous (100' or 200' or more?) megayachts were anchored far off shore from Warderick Wells. On our approach, we ghosted over sandflats to get into our little beach, raising rudder and lee board to get over the shallowest parts. At one point, Garth had the lee board control line in one hand, the rudder control line in the other, the mainsheet in his teeth, and he was steering the tiller with his foot. I was at the bow looking for rocks and ready to throw anchor if we got stuck in a spot where the wind might swing us onto ironshore. Often, when Garth runs out of appendages and I'm at the bow, he asks Rose to take the tiller. This time, though, he needed to do it all by feel. Isabel took a photo of him in full one-man band mode.

The girls hit the beach as soon as Sea Fever's nose touched it. As with an old friend, they wasted no time getting comfortable. Isabel hiked the short trail to the other side of Narrow Water (that has a view of the harbor and the Park Headquarters). Rose played in the sand. When they encounter a beach, they'll usually set off in opposite directions, and play their own games separately. We called them in for dinner when the sun was setting.

In the morning, we set out to the park on Warderick, with our "Sea Fever" sign printed with indelible marker and carved on a piece of driftwood. Garth drew a picture of Sea Fever and we included "Halcottsville, NY" and our names and the date. We'd been working on the sign for a few days in anticipation of our return to Warderick. We hiked up the hill and added it to the collection of signs on Boo Boo Hill, putting our mark on the mound along with all the hundreds of other boat signs. (Boo Boo Hill is the only place in the Park that you can leave something "other than footprints.") We had fun reading the names of the signs again, some of which we now recognized from either seeing them along the way or hearing them on the VHF radio. We noted signs that had multiple years, and the girls said we'd have to come back to add the new date to ours.

In the afternoon, we set sail for Hawksbill, declining to stay at Warderick for Easter festivities tomorrow. We feel the inexorable pull of the home journey. Each day that weather allows, we feel we have to make northward progress, even if it's just by a few hours.

Around 4:30 we pulled into our favorite beach yet. Hawksbill's western coast has beaches carved into heads of ironshore, so the beaches are broken up and not visible from one to the other. As we pulled into "ours" we noted umbrellas and lawnchairs on the next beach and an inflatable beach trampoline type of thing. We recognized these luxuries as having come off the megayacht Utopia, which we had encountered in Warderick. The staff comes ashore and sets up a "beach site" for the guests, who are then brought in by smaller motor boat, along with jet skis for entertainment. Then the staff comes and cleans it all up when they're done. Our spot is perfect: gorgeous water, cake flour sand beach with an unobstructed view of the setting sun--just like theirs, only we paid a lot less for ours. We also have a mangrove flat just north of our beach, a short walk through clear, shallow water, with a tidal stream that runs out with the tide. Rose set up a race between 3 coconut wedges that she's collected--the lightest coconut won.

This evening we hiked to a huge cairn on a hill that borders our beach on the South side. We each added a rock to the cairn. One more mark to leave that we will always know is here, long after we are gone.

Add to the list of things broken: our beloved Pentax W80 camera. Supposedly waterproof to 16 feet -- perhaps it was really only waterproof to 14 feet. The view screen got fogged up after the second Sea Aquarium dive and now it will turn on, but will not respond to any commands, like "shoot" or "menu." There's still hope that it will dry out and work some day again. . . . We do have a backup camera, which is not waterproof, so that's the end of underwater photography for now. Very disappointing.

Garth got his shark-swimming wish at the Underwater Aquarium. A 4' nurse shark swam by and he dove down to photograph it and video it. Isabel also swam down to it. Not quite the dramatic encounter with a swarm of reef sharks that Garth was hoping for, but still, he got to swim with a shark.