• close family • small boat • big world •

Shroud Cay

August 8, 2014

by Cash
At anchor, Shroud Cay, Bahamas

Written June 21, 2014

We spent three days at Shroud Cay, an island in the Exuma Land and Sea Park, a Bahamian National Park. Most of the island is a thick forest of mangroves. Three shallow streams cut into the east side of the island, two of which come out on the western beach. Shroud Cay is also known for its freshwater well, which cruisers use to refresh their water supply. It’s also the place where I almost lost our favorite bucket. 

Shroud’s long, winding streams can be explored by dinghy or kayak, and there is a 3-knot speed limit marked on a very large sign to protect the wildlife. Just after we slowly motored into the stream we saw a baby hawksbill turtle. Soon after, a couple of jet-skis came roaring past us, obviously ignoring the speed limit, and oblivious to baby turtles. A big skiff named Stepho also came by us going way too fast. It turns out these all belonged to a large motor yacht called Big Cotton. The jet skis continued to blast all over the interior of the island at top speed. (The park rangers on Warderick Wells later told us that they don’t have enough staff to do anything to stop people from destroying the wilderness). We snorkeled in one of the streams. There weren’t many fish, but it was cool to swim through the endless forests of mangrove roots. You could almost get lost if you didn’t stick your head out of the water to look around.

The other neat feature of Shroud Cay is its natural freshwater well, at the to up of a hill near the eastern shore. It’s a large circular well about ten feet in  diameter that has been built it up with plaster and rocks around
the top edge. There were slots in the top of the concrete that might have been for a wooden lid to prevent evaporation.


We used this well to get water to refill Daystar’s tanks. The water was very fresh and tasted really good. Twice, we filled our portable containers: five 5-gallon jugs, one 2-gallon jug, and a six-gallon jug. We used a bucket, left on a rope at the well, to haul the water and pour it into our jugs. The bucket didn’t work that well, so we attached a limestone rock to the side to weight properly. I hauled most of the 254 pounds of water back to the dinghy myself.

My mom and I got the second load of water. This time, we brought our own bucket, which was bigger and heavier and worked better. I pulled up the bucket and she poured. All was working smoothly until I tossed down the bucket and the rope slipped through my hands. It sunk into the dark depths of the well. My Dad’s good bucket, gone! When the water cleared and the sun shone in, we saw that it was just 15 feet down. We devised a plan to retrieve it.

Unfortunately, the bucket landed upside down so its handle was inaccessible. We fashioned a weighted hook using a carabiner and a rock on a long rope. It took many tries of dragging it across the bucket’s rope before we snagged it. I crouched on a small ledge, trying not to fall in as my mom pulled the line up very slowly. It could have easily slipped through our hook if not for the knot at the end of the bucket line. I reached down to grab it; the bucket was safe!

The fish that arrived with our water

Shroud Cay is a beautiful island. I loved being in the peaceful streams. It was fun to get water from a well, rather than by just turning on a faucet. It only took a little hard work. And next time I’ll be sure to hang on to the bucket rope.

Aunt Lisa said...

I LOVE the bucket story! Didn't you rescue a floaty thing or a dinghy once, too? I'd like to see mangroves in person some day. Do a lot of animals and fish live in them? I think in India, the tigers hide in the mangrove swamps. Do they (the mangroves, not the tigers) make flowers? Do they have a noticeable smell? It must have been so lovely, quietly and tranquilly going down the streams. How wonderful!

Aunt Lisa said...

I tried to comment earlier but got a message that it will be posted after "approval". In case of a problem, I will try to remember what I said before. First off, I LOVED the bucket story! Didn't you rescue a floaty thing or a dinghy another time? The mangroves seem really cool. Are there a lot of fish and animals in them? In India, there are tigers roaming in the mangrove swamps. They are protected because they are so dense and labyrinthine. Do the mangroves make flowers? Do they have a noticeable smell? How wonderful - it must have been lovely boating quietly and tranquilly down the streams. Maybe you can have a chance to do it again there, or somewhere else.