Paradise Next Door - Bahamas Cruise
| ~ Tidal Flats within
Shroud Cay ~ | A
April 28th, 2011
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.
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 and Sea Park
Cay was part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a 176 square mile area of the Exumas 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.
~ Re Metau at Anchor ~ |
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.
of Ooid Sand Pearls
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.
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
Shagri-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 ~ |
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.
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 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.
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.
© 2015 Diana E Reynolds - SV Re Metau. All rights reserved.