Starter Island: Warderick Wells

This open solitude gives me but a brief moment to think of who I am, where I am and what I'm doing. A cliched thing I know to sit on a boat, look into the distance and ponder on life's intricacies yet it is one that I willingly fall prey to.
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The charm of the Exumas lies in the mirage of its waters. An absolute perfect reflection, no one can tell where it ends or the sky begins. My favorite pirate ship however, cuts through the waters with a skill that only a vessel that calls this place home can have. With the exception of a few scattered cays we are on these waters alone.

This open solitude gives me but a brief moment to think of who I am, where I am and what I'm doing. A cliched thing I know to sit on a boat, look into the distance and ponder on life's intricacies yet it is one that I willingly fall prey to. Over and over I repeat to myself just how lucky I am to sit in this very spot and take in the overall magnificence which is my country. How did I get here? A question I still cannot answer.


My silent reverie is broken by the music blasting through the galley and wafting up to my personal perch near the bow of the boat. I can hear the all too loud card games being played. Their joy fueled by John Watlings Amber Rum and Sands beer. I'm not annoyed, It amazes me that a group of complete strangers have found it so easy to place their trust in one another. It's a naivety that I would have lost touch of long ago. Yet one that I appreciate all the same.


Our trawl into Warderick Wells is soundtracked by some of this summer's latest hits and a few older tracks for nostalgia's sake. The steady thrumming of their beats a constant reminder that the scenes in which they provide a symphony for are my life; I pray to God this movie doesn't end too soon. Much like a cinematic reveal, Warderick Wells presents itself in the ever-changing hues of blue. Transforming into shades on the spectrum I never imagined I would see in real life.


The skeleton of a 53 foot Sperm Whale lies prominently on the beach. A sobering reminder that nature did much better before mankind tried to improve on what was already perfect. This beautiful beast met its demise when it choked on a plastic bag. Its remains are now a guardian of sorts for the Exuma Land & Sea Park.



Nurse Sharks surround the waters of the Exumas, but there was only one baby shark that deemed our boat worthy enough to approach. Even though nurse sharks are described as some of the most docile creatures I decided to not tempt fate. Nature had turned on me once before and I would not fall victim to its cruel selection process again.

Contestants petting a Nurse Shark on Warderick Wells

As the sun sets on this perfectly protected jewel in the ocean, I bask in all of its glory because I know there will never be another sunset as gratifying as this one. How could there be?


Morning comes with a new Explorers Challenge. Capture the flag. The goal is self explanatory the route however, is not. Two members of each team would have to capture seven Bahamian flags on Warderick Wells while simultaneously retaining information posted on green plaques along the trails to assist us in our Nomad Challenge of the day.

The Nomad Challenge consisted of random trivia about each cay we would have visited during the week. In order to keep our lead in the competition, we needed this win. The first team to capture all seven flags and take a picture at the end of the trail would be the winner.

With 15 minutes to devise a strategy, we sent Yeqian and Mark to represent Team Skipper. While Mark would be responsible for capturing our flags Yeqian would be the collector of all knowledge, taking pictures of each plaque in order to ensure our team's preparedness for the Nomad Challenge. Divide and conquer.

Info plaques such as these can be found on most Bahamas National Trust sites

With strict instructions from our back end developer Aaron, to not come back unless they actually won, failure clearly was not an option. Our team would have already been making strides in our daily goals. With a logo created and a general business model already established we were well on our way to overall victory. Having Yeqian and Mark climb triumphantly onto the boat though, made the possibility of us winning even more realistic.

Mark Hoffer and Yeqian Zhao (Team Skipper)

The completion of the Explorers Challenge would mark the end of our stay in Warderick Wells and the beginning of our journey to Staniel Cay. With a silent promise to return to this peaceful haven, I turn my back on the sentinel remains of the perpetually beached whale and I face forward to continue my most exhilarating adventure to date.


This post is the third in a series of articles documenting my experience sailing through the Exumas in the Starter Island competition.

Photo Credit: Tatiana Clare of OX Studios & Yeqian Zhao - All Rights Reserved

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