I came with an agenda. How could I not? The Exuma Islands are teeming with ocean and land to explore. I had all of my favorite old spots in mind and some new treasures looking to be discovered. But, I am one in four. Apparently, we all have our individual interests, opinions, and goals. And of course, there is always the weather to help us decide what should come first.
At Cambridge Cay, I wanted to snorkel one familiar awesome reef, another cave at Rocky Dundas, and a new patch reef that I noticed on the chart. I also wanted to climb Bell Rock.
All of these activities required slack tide, while two of them needed to be at low slack water. The Cambridge Cay area is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. Moorings have been set up to provide more secure anchorages and to protect the sea floor. Of course, they cost money. It is money well spent, but money all the same. We had already stayed on these moorings for a few nights and we still had more places to visit in the park, so we wanted to try to pack in the activities to decrease nights with a price tag. So, I figured out how Joey and I could each snorkel one of the two reefs with Pearl and we could all climb up Bell Rock in the first day. Then, we would snorkel Rocky Dundas on our way out to Warderick Wells.
Pearl and I set out first thing after breakfast to snorkel the unfamiliar patch reef. I suspected the current would not be as strong there, so we could go before slack water. It took us awhile to get to the right place, but soon we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful soft corals and a wide variety of fish. We especially had fun hanging out with a couple of Triggerfish that seemed just as curious about us as we were about them. All was getting off to the right start.
And then we returned to the boat. Joey was immersed in a project. Juniper was itching for a swim. The clouds were starting to form in dark clusters. And of course, everyone needed a snack. It became immediately apparent that something was going to have to give. We would not be able to climb Bell Rock, and Joey was not going to be ready to take Pearl to the reef at slack water, as planned. But it didn't even matter that Joey wasn't ready, because the sky was giving us big stay on the boat signals. So, the girls and I swam around the boat until the wind picked up as the edge of the storm passed, reassuring us that we made a good decision to stick by the boat.
We waited a couple of hours for the sky to clear. Then we headed to Cambridge Cay to see if we could make it over to Bell Rock. The tide had come in too far. And on second glance, it seemed too steep to climb with Juniper. Once again, I was graced with that change in perspective that occurs with motherhood. But we noticed a nice, safe trail up the cay and discovered a wonderful treasure of a hike.
Without my tight agenda, we were able to relax and just take in the incredible beauty that surrounded us.
To finish it off, we swam from the beach back to the boat, as a family, enjoying the simplicity of our day.
The past few anchorages had been dominated by large yachts. I couldn't help but feel a little misplaced in their midst. On the beach at Cambridge Cay, we met Rob and Kate, Toronto transplants living in Freeport, Bahamas. Sometimes, you just know instantly that someone will be fun to hang out with. Rob and Kate are those kind of people. They were celebrating their tenth anniversary with a week of the Exumas on their 70 foot yacht, M/V Knotty Time, without their three kids.
I was fortunate enough to go hang out with them after I got my girls to bed. The conversation flowed, the wine was good, and the dancing was divine. Rob and Kate live in a completely different reality than our family in many ways. They have a Captain and a Stewardess for their yacht. At home they have a live-in Nanny for their three boys. They have enough money to do whatever they wish. But, aside from our differences, we are people with the same concerns- how to provide a good life for our children and how to have fun in the process. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. Of course, I'm a sucker for people who like to have a good dance party under the stars.
The next day we got the tide wrong for the awesome snorkel. The wind blew out of the northeast, making Rocky Dundas unattainable. Basically, nothing happened according to my agenda. But, the unexpected was even better.