A 3 Hour Sail: Shroud Cay, Exuma Land & Sea Park

After a delightful 3 hours sail from Highbourne Cay (17 miles), we picked up our first mooring ball in the Exumas Land & Sea Park at Shroud Cay, the northernmost of the national park islands.

The very next morning we were awakened by Winterlude having developed the strangest new creak.    After muddling out of bed and trying to figure out this newest noise, we realized that it was coming from outside the boat.  Sticking our heads out the companionway, we’re greeted by the graceful flight of rare white-tailed tropic birds whirling and soaring on the wind.
Shroud Cay is a stark but beautiful mostly desert island and is home to these rare birds.   They nest in the craggy nooks in the limestone rocks.  Only 2000 remain across the Atlantic, so this is a rare treat for us.  The birds soar majestically in circles above the boat, making that distinctive creaking noise the entire time.  We didn’t get to see them on land, but some research shows us they are actually quite clumsy.
One of the attractions of Shroud Cay are the mazes of creeks that riddle the island.  In order to protect the fragile vegetation, wildlife and sealife, the Park has wisely decided close all but one of the creeks to dinghy exploration.  You can explore the others, you just cannot use any type of motorized craft – so it’s OK to tilt up your outboard and use your oars, but beware the current!  A better bet would be our kayaks, too bad we didn’t have time to stay here for a week to explore all the little creeks.
The northernmost of the creeks on Shroud Cay (and beware, this is quite a dinghy ride from the mooring field – go around the corner to the north and just keep going until you see a creek with an Exumas Land & Sea Park sign beside the entrance) is open to dinghy exploration.  Be sure to go at mid to high tide – otherwise you might be walking your dinghy through parts of the creek that turn into sandbars!  Also, be sure to know what the tide and current is for the duration — you don’t want to get to the other side only to have to wait six hours for the tide to change!
Enjoy a leisurely dinghy ride through the winding creek until you get to the ocean side where the creek Y’s – take the left Y to get to the “waterslide” and beach known as Camp Driftwood.   Beach your dinghy and walk to the left around the corner to the beach.  The legend has it that a sailor turned hermit build Camp Driftwood – cutting steps into the steep hill (most of them have washed away by now) and lived like Robinson Crusoe above Exuma Sound.    Later the U.S. took advantage of the scenic vista to spy on Carlos Lehder’s drug cartel headquartered just to the north on Norman Cay.
For a real highlight, walk around the corner, wade in and let the swift current carry you in through the pass — climb out the beach on the inside and do it again … and again … and again.  Of course, it’s prudent to make SURE the current is coming IN since you don’t want to be swept out to sea here, that would be deadly.
David headed down the unmarked trail up to Camp Driftwood.
Here’s a view of the winding creek you just dinghied up from the top of Camp Driftwood.  These days there’s not much there except an old park sign that’s missing the actual sign part, the frame is intact.
And don’t forget to relax and enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Exuma Land & Sea Park.  Pack a picnic and some drinks and just hang out enjoying the beach where your footprints may be the only ones on the beach!  Wow!

 

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