Day 170, Year 10: Emerald Rock to Hawksbill Cay
Date: Sunday, March 29, 2015
Weather: Overcast Turning Partly Sunny Mid-Afternoon, Winds NNE 15-20
Latitude: 24 28.028 N
Longitude: 076 46.142 W
Location: On a Park Mooring at Hawksbill Cay S, Exumas

Once again we decided to head into the wind. We were headed north and a little east and the wind was from the northeast. But leaving Emerald Rock and moving north to Hawksbill Cay today gives us a head start in the morning as we head across the Exuma Bank to the west end of New Providence Island. Nassau is on the northeast side of this island and we are going to anchor for the night on the far west coast in West Bay. This will be day one of the trip back to Florida. If the weather permits, on day two of the trip we will stop at Chub Cay and snorkel the reefs at Momma Rhoda Rocks. From Chub it is either an overnight sail to West Palm Beach in Florida or it could take two full ‘daylight’ days if we simply drop anchor on the Grand Bahama Bank to get a little sleep before continuing on to Florida the next morning. All of this depends on the weather report we get in the morning from weather guru Chris Parker. In either case, we should arrive in West Palm sometime on Thursday. This has us arriving almost a week earlier than necessary, but if we don’t latch onto this weather window, we will most certainly be at least a few days to a week late for Mark’s next treatment on April 9. We knew from the start that we would have a total of six weeks to fit this trip to the Exumas into Mark’s cancer treatment schedule. We lost one week at the beginning waiting for weather and now we are returning a week early to beat the weather. That gave us only a month in the Bahamas, but it has been a glorious month of warmth, sunshine, snorkeling and snorkeling and snorkeling, and witnessing the most beautiful, crystal clear water in every shade of blue imaginable. It has been a great month.

We skipped Hawksbill Cay on our way south, so we were elated that we got the opportunity to stop here today. It is billed as the most beautiful island in the Exumas. I’m not sure I totally agree with that, but it does have an interesting coastline. It has outcroppings of what I call the ‘prickly’ limestone (jagged and sharp) as well as layered limestone that that is much smoother. We are moored right in front of the entrance to a creek that goes inland a bit and there are beautiful white sand beaches. There are lots of snorkeling spots here, but by the time we got here, it was well after low tide so we chose not to snorkel. Instead, we picked up Lee and Lynda in our dinghy and headed about a mile north to a little beach with a path to some old Loyalist ruins. The Loyalists (loyal to England) moved from the northern colonies to Florida and then when Florida was given to the Spanish, some of them escaped to the Bahamas with their slaves. By 1785, the Bahamas were part of the British Empire and the Crown gave a grant to the Russell family to settle on Hawksbill. We found the remains of about five of the total ten houses that are here, saw the deep holes that were dug into the rock for watering chickens and pigs, found one beehive oven that was used for cooking as well as for incinerating conch shells that were used to make mortar for the walls, and walked along a wall that looks like it was built for protection. We saw a number of little rock iguanas and a beautiful little tree with intense purple-blue flowers. I’m going to have to do some research to figure this one out as I have never seen it before. But the bees sure loved it. They were happily buzzing from one flower to another.

We got an email from our daughter Heather back on Cape Cod just now and she said, “Guess what? It’s snowing.” This was written last night and I don’t think Heather sounded too happy about more snow. It’s almost April and the big snows from February have just melted with the rain of the past week. They are desperate for some signs of spring. So I’m not going to complain about the cooler temps down here right now. I’ll just mention that this NE wind is supposed to continue here in the Exumas throughout the week and the temperature will remain in the 70’s. The 80’s sure were nice. Maybe we’ll get something a little warmer as we head toward Florida. Or maybe we’ll need to fire up the propane heater again. Sure hope that is not the case!

I just took a break and went up to the cockpit to watch the sun go down. There were lots of clouds and red ‘sails’ which made for an interesting sun set. Sure hope those red sail are going to be our delight tomorrow.

150329 Day 170 Bahamas–Hawksbill Cay
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Day 171, Year 10: Farewell to the Exumas
Day 169, Year 10: Riding Out the Late Season Cold Front