We saw a lot of the same boats in the Abacos, many of them charters. The Sea of Abaco is like a swimming pool. People occasionally get in or get out, but otherwise they just swim around with no particular destination. The Exumas are like a river and there are only two directions: north or south. I guess it’s inevitable that packs would form.
At Warderick Wells there is a hill covered with driftwood monuments left by passing boats. One piece that caught our eye had, along with the boat name, “2004 05 06 07 08 09 10”. We were struck not only that this boat had returned six years in a row to the same place, but also that he routed his graffiti into a piece of hardi-plank. Tanya and I have been to several places where we’ve said, “this is nice, let’s come back sometime,” but we never do.
When we got to Staniel Cay we were amazed and dismayed at the number of boats already there. Our anchorage contained no less than six 100+ foot megayachts. Apparently Staniel was the place to be for New Year’s. We later learned that Johnny Depp was in attendance at a pirate-themed party at the yacht club. Apparently he owns one of these islands, so many of which seem to be private.
That wasn’t quite what we were looking for, so we spent one night, did some shopping, snorkeled in the Thunderball Grotto and moved on. The chart described Black Point as “an excellent example of a real out-island ‘non-touristy’ settlement”, which sounded promising. There were six boats anchored at Black Point when we arrived, which was still a bit much. Up until Warderick Wells we hadn’t shared an anchorage with a single boat, but six was at least better than fifty.
We had an excellent night’s sleep at Black Point, and then went ashore to find groceries and an Internet connection, all rarities in the northern Exumas. So far when we have found Internet, it has been via satellite uplink, meaning a 44,000 mile round-trip. The laws of physics prevent this type of connection from ever approaching what we are used to calling “high speed”. It is also very pricey, and thus well-protected, and we hadn’t previously been able to avail ourselves of it. We eventually found usable Internet and lunch at a café, which also had a bulletin board absolutely packed with cruisers’ boat cards, a few of which we recognized as friends. In talking to the proprietress, we learned that she hosts a very popular Super Bowl party.
It is now dawning on us that the boat card board was another pile of driftwood presaging an inundation of the boats we left behind at Staniel Cay. When is the Super Bowl? We don’t know, but we have already lost count of the boats that have arrived today from the direction of Staniel Cay, and there is another group on the horizon.
We now see that we are near a large fleet of boats that are on something of an itinerary. We heard them on the radio jockeying to reserve moorings in the Land and Sea Park for Christmas. We saw the whole armada at Staniel Cay for New Year’s Eve, complete with megayacht galleons. Now we can only assume this place is next for the Super Bowl.
We are not completely anti-social, but we don’t cruise to be a part of any group. We don’t subscribe to any herd mentality. We prefer to celebrate holidays by ourselves and in our own way, and we don’t even know who is playing in the Super Bowl. Finally, we don’t want to compete with these boats for scarce resources like food or sheltered anchorages.
We’re thinking it is better to lead them than follow. We’re also starting to hatch a plan to return by a different route. Originally, we assumed we would work down the Exumas to George Town, stay there until time to return, and them work back up the chain, across to Nassau, and then back to Florida. Now we’ve had the idea to go down the Exumas, then east to Long Island, north to Cat Island, back to Eleuthera, through the Berry Islands, and then to Florida. That will keep us moving, and give us a broader taste of the Bahamas.