Sailing through the Bahamas is like tipping up a Cracker Jack box looking for the prize. You never really know what’s going to be around the next bend but you know you’re going to love it. This country is made up of nearly 7000 islands counting everything from New Providence (read Nassau) to the smallest spike of uninhabitable but boat-sinkable limestone barely jutting out from beneath the waves. Needless to say, it’s beautiful here. I can see why someone, anyone, would want to have a home here, given the right financial resources.
My brother and his family were here recently for a week of fun-filled holiday play. We took them north from Staniel Cay, through Pipe Creek, into the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The park is the oldest marine sanctuary in the Bahamas and has been a no-take zone since 1986. Its beauty is unparalleled, and the sea life that roams through the park, confident in its safety, is some of the most varied and, pound for pound, the largest available for viewing in the whole of the Bahamas. There are animal species here that live only because of the close protection, chief among them the rock iguana and the Kirtland’s warbler. These land animals draw crowds wherever they are found. Luckily, sometimes the animals outnumber the visitors!
Another attraction in this area is the celebrity. As this country has so very many islands, several have been purchased by the rich and famous and turned into vacation compounds where they can enjoy themselves without feeling like a lens is continually trained on them or their companions. This has given room for some interesting conversations aboard MarVyn. Marley is a huge Taylor Swift fan and, given the chance, likely would accost her mercilessly if found in public. Explaining to a 9 year old full of good-natured though self-centered enthusiasm that such a response should be tempered has been challenging! Also, we’ve recently watched the first movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean series and the girls have greatly enjoyed Johnny Depp and his character Captain Jack Sparrow. Well, as luck should have it, I’ve explained to them, their father and said actor have already had a run in here in the Bahamas. It’s really quite benign, and nothing like I’ve led you to believe, but it makes for good press and a few smiles!
So as I mentioned, my bother’s family was aboard, and we were making our way into the southern end of the Land and Sea Park, and had just come to an extremely tight section of the passage with shallow ripping waters, shoals on one side, rock on the other, swift current on our nose, and a 60 degree turn to starboard in the midst of it all. Just before we came upon this beautiful mess we had passed one of the compounds I mentioned above. This particular one had a barge dock as well as a seaplane hangar, all just outside the cove hiding an enormous high-powered speed boat and a gigantic catamaran. Despite our better judgment, intrigued by the toys, out came the binoculars and the invasion began. We spied. For just a minute. We had no idea who owned this mini-city at the time, and it really didn’t matter. It was, after all, surprising and curious to see that this sort of structure could be built and maintained in this difficult environment. But then it hit. Karma smacked our peeping butts like a hard shore break. Within just feet of the turn in this difficult pass Clint’s favorite visor flew off his head, landing in the swift current and it rapidly began putting distance between itself and our stern. Clint called out his decision to turn around to retrieve the hat. It took one full turn and an extended boat hook to get it but the hat made it back on board and we made it safely through the cut immediately afterwards.
Our anchorage was just ahead once through the cut. It was beautiful, of course, save one thing: the large sign planted in the middle of the beach. Back to the binoculars we went as none of us could decipher the lettering. It was a white sign with orange writing that read, “This is not Disney and you are not welcome.” Apparently we had made it to Johnny Depp’s backyard. I wish I had been smart enough to get a picture of this sign to share with you, but alas, you will have to believe my story and simply enjoy yet another image of a breathtaking sunset instead. Savvy?