The Exuma Cays, Land & Sea Park - updated

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Thu 11 Jun 2009 00:34
24:31.86N 076:47.80W    Cambridge Island to Waderick Wells to Shroud Cay
For the last few days we have been motoring through the Exuma Marine park - a nature conservancy of about 35km long covering a number of cays (pronounced "keys"). The park was set up in the 1950's to protect the sea and animal life, and not even shell collecting is allowed. The park has gorgeous anchorages, many of which have mooring balls to protect the corals. 
Off Cambridge Cay is a small island with two spectacular caves at the waterline. We swam through the entrance into a large cavern with holes in the 'roof' allowing the sunshine to light up the dramatic stalagmites. The current outside the caves is very strong and we were happy to have our dinghy close at hand. To the north of the island we dived on a small aeroplane wreck and then in the "seaquariaum" - a well buoyed area of coral with abundant sea life.
Our next stop was Waderick Wells, the head office of the park, where we anchored in the south, off Hog Cay. While snorkelling off the back of the boat I spotted 3 giant lobsters, which sadly we could not touch. Amazingly these animals seem to know that they are not in danger, being far less timid than usual. The park headquarters are located in a beautiful setting .
We then continued north to Shroud Cay. We motored across "The Banks", the shallow left hand side of the islands - the other side of the Exumas, with much deeper water, is called "The Sound" This uninhabited island is a huge mangrove swamp that is home to many nesting birds and baby conch. While walking on the beach we saw the most incredible display of nature... worthy an "Oscar". A mother Wilson's Plover had a nest with 2 chicks and an egg on the dune - as we approached she ran off in the opposite direction making a huge noise to distract us. We stood still and watched her. Feeling this was not enough, she then started thrashing around like an injured bird, first with one broken wing and then with both hanging helplessly at her sides, all the time crying out. This magnificent performance to distract the predators (us) and so protect her young.  
We are treated to the most amazing sunsets!
The last two weeks has seen pretty wonderful tropical weather for tourism, but not all that great for sailors. Very, very little wind, a few isolated thunderstorms, and very warm  water - in some shallow places is has been up to 30degC. We have also been plagued by flies and mosquitoes ...driving us crazy. Mike has made a super fly-swatter from some leather and a dowel, that is being used regularly. Cleaning up the blood splatters on the roof and the dead flies on the floor is another story. Quite a few evenings we have shut the doors and windows, put on the generator and airconditioner, to get a little peace from nature.  The Exuma Rummy Challenge is now on the go again, and I am happy to report that at this stage I am winning. I suspect that card counting on Campari is a little easier than on Whisky!
We will hopefully have access to the internet again in Nassau, where we drop Willy off next week. Lots of love to you all. Lynn, Mike & Willy