Warderick Wells

Warderick Wells  is the headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.  The park is a special place to cruisers; many return year after year and contribute financially, and volunteer their services in many ways, serving as park hosts and helping with needed projects.  The park is a no take zone by land and sea... which means no fishing, lobstering, conching, or shelling within the park boundaries.  The island has mooring balls located near the ranger station in the north field, on the west side of island at Emerald Rock, and on the southeast side of the island at Hog Cay.  We moored in the north field several times and at Hog Cay twice during our visits.

The park headquarters, built in 1989, have an office, extensive exhibits of specimens of shells and other items collected in the park, and gift area offering t-shirts, books, charts, ice, and wireless internet for sale.  As we climbed the steps to the park ranger's headquarters, the first thing we saw was the spectacular view of the north mooring field.  The area is natural harbor and the current runs through and changes direction several times a day with the change of tides.  

LuLu had a great time in the mooring field stalking the local birds that came out to visit our boat for tidbits of bread.  It brought out her hunting instinct, but fortunately the little bananaquits were smart enough to stay out of her reach! They landed on our solar panels on top of the bimini.  Every now and then, a brave one would land on the lifelines in the cockpit.  We had to keep an eye on her at all times to make sure she was not able to lay a paw on any of them. 

 There are lots of great hiking trails criss-crossing the island of Warderick Wells, and we pretty much hiked them all.  Good hiking shoes were a must, as the island is pock-marked with holes and sharp limestone.  

A favorite location is the hike up to Boo Boo Hill.   Boaters have been making the trek to the top of Boo Boo for years.... it is customary for boats to leave driftwood plaques of their boats up there for years.  When we visited the park with Pipe muh Bligh, we made plaques and hiked up the hill to add our contributions to the boaters' shrine.

Just to the north of Boo Boo Hill, the trail lead us to the Blow Holes.  The blow holes provided a great source of entertainment when our friend Martha McSherry came to visit... the air blowing out of the hole as the waves crashed underneath the island was really strong that day, and blew Martha's hat off! We spent a lot of time laughing and dancing around the blow hole. 

All along the Atlantic side of the island, there are stromatolites.  They are a living example of the Earth's earliest reefs and form an unusual and special type of reef.  Unlike most present-day reefs, which are composed of coral, stromatolites are formed by microorganisms which trap and bind sand grains together and precipitate calcium carbonate to form layered mounds of limestone.  Stromatolites are the oldest known macrofossils, dating back over a million years.  Geologists and students from universities from all over the world come to this area in the Bahamas to study this unique reef system.

The south mooring field of Warderick Wells is located between Warderick Wells and Hog Cay.  There are only five moorings and the beautiful isolated area has great protection from winds from all directions. 

There is a deep cut between the islands where we saw eagle rays feeding every afternoon as the tide ripped through.

Ashore, a conch-lined trail through a narrow, palm frond lined path took us to a small opening with a fresh water well, called the Pirate's Lair.  In this area grow tall cabbage palms (not indigenous to the Bahamas) and a certain type of grass found only in the Gulf coast areas of Louisiana and nowhere else in the Exumas.  In the 1700's, it is believed that it was brought here by pirate ships that used this anchorage. 

  

The Pirate's Lair was used as a meeting place for the pirates when ashore.  They would bring their mats and set them up to sit, talk, and recreate, which distributed the seeds of the cabbage palms and the grasses.  The ridges of Warderick Wells camouflaged the rigging of the pirate ships while Hog Cay concealed the hull from any ships sailing by offshore.  Pirates lying at this anchorage could make easy prey of any vessel passing by heading throughWide Opening channel to Nassau. Martha and I set up hammocks in the lair and read for an afternoon.  We got fascinated by all of the birds up in the palm trees and did more bird-watching than reading. Nice relaxing way to spend an day in paradise!

On our trip to Hog Cay in May, we woke up early one morning to see a storm brewing in the distance.  We saw waterspouts form in the clouds several miles away and were treated to a spectacular show. 

The storm moved away from us and beautiful weather once again descended upon the Cay.

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