Another beautiful day in paradise! The sun baked down on us as we dropped the dinghy from the stern davits into the clear water and lowered the motor on its transom. We had packed picnic lunch, and set out from the anchorage at Shroud Cay alongside Claude and Marie from La Toison D’or in their dinghy, through the mooring field and around a string of rocks towards the beach on the north-west end of the island. Shroud Cay is large uninhabited and protected island in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park and is actually a group of cays separated by rivers which traverse the island. The interior of the island consists mainly of mangrove swamps.
We found the entrance to the northern-most river and turned up it, meandering between the mangrove banks through some swift-flowing deeper sections and other shallow sand-banked areas. The clear blue sky and sultry sun made me feel like Katharine Hepburn in “The African Queen” being driven up the river….luckily without the insects!
After about 15 minutes of meandering slowly, we rounded a corner to an open vista – a small pristine beach, blue lagoon, palm studded hill and ocean. Ospreys circled overhead.
We beached the dinghies and set out to explore, climbing up the hill by a marked path, trying to find the remains of “Camp Driftwood”, built in the 60’s by old-salt cruiser who frequented the area. Apparently it was a pretty amazing camp of flotsam, shells and driftwood, but we could not find any remains of it at all. Either we were not looking in the right place or it has gone with the wind!
We enjoyed beach-combing and swimming in the clear blue lagoon and then settled on the little beach to eat lunch. We marvelled aloud at our good fortune – that there was such unspoilt beauty left in the world, that we were able to have it to ourselves, and best of all, that it was free!
As we finished our picnic a curious iguana came by looking for left-overs.
It was early afternoon when we got back to our respective boats after an unsuccessful attempt to find the fresh water well in the mouth of the middle “river” on Shroud Cay. We conferred with Claude and Marie and all agreed to weigh anchor and push on to Norman Cay, which was less than 5 nm north. That would give us another full day the next day for exploring there.
We were able to sail again most of the way for the third day straight, and dropped anchor “inside” Norman’s Cay in 14 feet at about 4 pm, in time for sundowners! We found Pat and Celine on their Endeavour Catamaran, Casita, from Perth Ontario anchored there – Claude and Marie had cruised with them a few years ago and were happy to see them again. It amazes me that in this transient cruising community friendships are lasting even when ongoing contact is not. Just like the ospreys we so admired during the day, brief encounters often leave a lasting impression. Here, mutual interests and experiences like these are the binding factors.
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