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Paradise Next Door
Bahamas Cruise
2011
Tidal Flats within Shroud Cay
~ Tidal Flats within Shroud Cay ~
Shroud Cay, Exuma
A Treasured Island
With the wind right on our nose, we opted to motor-sail to our next destination, Shroud Cay, just over an hour away. Putting the jib up made us feel even more 'nauti' because we looked like we were sailing, but it saved on fuel. The ease of sailing through this newbie cruiser's kiddy pool that was the Bahamas was becoming very apparent. Only when crossing the Great Bahama Banks and the Tongue of the Ocean were we ever out of sight of land. Though I'd never wish to be stranded on most of the desolate isles we sighted, it was comforting to see the endless vista of ocean broken up by a spot of potential salvation here and there.
Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park
Shroud Cay was part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a 176 square mile area of the Exuma Islands and the only preserve of its kind in the world. Home to the Western Hemisphere's second largest coral barrier reef, the waters of the park were managed as a no-take zone to protect the marine life, while the land gave refuge to some of the rarest and most endangered creatures native to the area. Though the park included a dozen or so beautiful little islands, the archipelago of Shroud Cay, with its large tidal flat striated by mangrove lined creeks was especially alluring to us.
Outlet to the Atlantic
~ Outlet to the Atlantic ~

We set the anchor in a little cove with only one other catamaran in sight–near perfect seclusion. Our early arrival meant there was plenty of time to go exploring. Dinky Duck was soon packed up with all the beach accoutrements, and we puttered over to the entrance of the northern creek.

Beach of Ooid Sand Pearls
It was like entering a secret aquatic garden. The higher outer, rocky crust of the atoll hid a beckoning inner mangrove-maze. We followed the curvy, crystalline canal toward the island's ocean side just opposite. The inlet had been enchanting, but the outlet to the Atlantic proved to be truly breathtaking. As soon as we floated through the veil of the cloaking hillock, the most exquisite opaline beach was revealed; a pristine ribbon of lustrous pearly sand that, when awash by the brilliant aquamarine surf reflected the bright white billows in the cerulean sky.
Youthful Water Play
Youthful Water Play
Youthful Water Play
~ Youthful Water Play ~

An uninterrupted vista of a deserted seashore lay before us; the only other sign of sentient life was a solitary nurse shark swimming along the edge of the surf. We immediately marooned the rest of the world from our minds, shed all signs of civilization (save for our chilled libations and cool beach chairs), and assimilated into the 'Blue Lagoon' backdrop as a couple of carefree castaways.

Plunged into this perfect paradise, immersed in weightless waters, bounded by unbroken beauty, our youthful nature was quickly restored and our only endeavors were total self-indulgence. The velvety smooth grains of petite pearls were a perfect medium for crafting little salt-water puddles. Quickly heated by the dazzling sun, we sat soaking our feet while listening to the soothing sound of the surf. The exotic white-tailed tropicbirds serenely circling overhead made this the most opulent spa experience on earth.

Centerfold
Then the teasing sea would beckon us by her cooling caress, rousing us to race in for an invigorating splash. The years quickly washed away, unburying treasured memories of adolescence and a time when any body of water induced joyous exuberance. We frolicked like vivacious foundlings in a fertile Shangri-La. Playfully inspired by such exquisite scenery, my precocious mate prompted me to snap a few pics while he posed like a provocative pin-up.
My Centerfold Captain
~ My Centerfold Captain ~

The shade of the swaying palms drew us up the hillside's sandy path to capture loftier landscapes in postcard perfect pictures. Surveying our Eden from atop the embankment seduced us to continue exploring the serpentine stream that ran through the island's expansive interior. Leaving only our footprints behind, we loaded up the tender and retraced our wake.

The shallow creeks and rivulets meandered in a lazy tangle of crystal clear liquid. Fringed by thick, lush mangroves, every bend lured us further into the watery web. We drifted down each vein, giddy with anticipation about what would be revealed past every turn; a perfect solitary palm on its own islet; a glimpse of the multi-hued blues of the Atlantic; a prismatic dragonfly poised alongside in perfect parallel flight; the rippling, water colored painting of the sun dapple magnified under the glassy surface. One could easily get lost in Shroud Cay's sublime beauty.

Castaway Diana
~ Castaway Diana ~
Castaway Don
~ Castaway Don ~
Thanks to Bahamas National Trust
I felt a great deal of gratitude and praise for the Bahamian 'powers that be', who recognized a need to protect such an enchanting place. They'd provided us with the opportunity to experience just a bit of that most enduring of travelers' fantasies, the deserted tropical island experience (though more of Gilligan's droll genre rather than Tom Hanks's tale of arduous survival).

The romance of languidly lying on soft sandy beaches; the allure of breathtaking, unspoiled scenery; the placid tranquility of hearing nothing but wavelets lapping on the shore; the sensation of complete liberation from modern life's stresses – it was difficult to shake off the dream.

Though reluctant to leave our 'Treasured Island' and the total sense of abandon we'd adopted, Re Metau eventually seduced us back to her more material comforts and our meatloaf and mashed potato dinner succeeded in completely dissolving the island's spell. Being marooned on an isolated, uninhabited island was after all, just a fantasy. We had an able little ship full of all the comforts, intimacy, and pleasures one desires and our reality easily eclipsed the dream.

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2011 - Bahamas
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