Warderick Wells, the headquarters of the Exumas Land & Sea Park (a Bahamas national park) is a spectacular blend of underwater coral gardens, colorful reef fish, some scary sharks, 1700’s Loyalist settlement ruins, hiking on rocky bluffs overlooking watercolors in all shades of inky blue, teal, aqua, clear green, and white. Waves crashing on the bluffs shoot up through blow holes spouting somewhat less than miles in the air. All in all, an island paradise with a narrow ribbon of deep blue water for 22 boats to enjoy.
But Warderick Wells has a darker side too. Legend has it that the island is haunted by the resident ghosts of three different shipwrecks, one full of missionaries heading to the southern Bahamas. Sign while hiking to BooBoo Hill, named for the sounds of the resident ghosts, shares the lore:
On a wild, stormy day many years ago, a luckless schooner sank off Warderick Wells. All souls perished in the disaster. Not a single body was recovered for a Christian burial. Local people say that if you climb to the crest of the hill at the bloom of the full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns. Either by the light of the sun or the glow of the moon, this trail shares with you some of the enchantment of The Exumas Cays Land & Sea Park.
Our first night in the North Mooring Field (anchoring is not allowed due to the narrow winding blue strip of water deep enough for boats) was one of the experiences you dream of when you choose to go cruising. A deserted island paradise, no residents except the Bahamas Defense Force outpost and the park ranger, and some of the most dramatic scenery we’ve encountered anywhere. Unlike most cruising locales, this one has everything – gin clear water for snorkeling, fascinating dive sites, history, ruins, hiking, bluffs overlooking crashing waves, blowholes, beautiful beaches including hidden soft sand beaches where yours will be the only footprints.
Imagine our surprise the next morning to find our “pet” parrot – the brightly painted wooden parrot has entertained himself gazing into David’s shaving mirror in the head for over 10,000 miles, ever since we left Florida to go cruising. He had “flown” into the main salon and relocated himself to the navigation station.
I accused David of moving our parrot to satisfy the lore of the haunted island, but he swears he had nothing to do with it. I’m still not sure I believe him, but I do know for sure that I didn’t help the parrot fly from the head to the nav station!
We’ve hiked up to BooBoo Hill. It’s not difficult to imagine hearing songs of the ghosts above the howling of the wind and the crashing of the waves. Legend also has it, that to appease the ghosts that haunt this island, you must leave a “contribution” at the top of BooBoo Hill. But because rude visitors were leaving bags of trash, the only gift allowed is a piece of driftwood with your boat name and inscription. But it’s a catch 22 because you can’t take anything from the national park and we don’t have a piece of driftwood aboard to burn sv Winterlude into… oh the traumas of the life of a cruiser!
In the meantime, you’ll be glad to know the errant parrot has so far behaved and continues to entertain himself in the mirror in the head, but we’ll let you know if he wanders again! J