Monday, February 2, 2015

The Parents Arrive & A Visit To An Abandoned Marine Research Center

Views from the Exuma yacht club - Georgetown
My Mum and Dad arrived a week ago to sunny Georgetown in time for another little blow.  We caught up, got them settled and spent the next few days provisioning the boat ready for the next couple of weeks.  Nobody really appreciates how much food can be eaten when providing three meals a day for four people and how much space it can take up on the boat as we pack in cases of beer, litres and litres of Coca-Cola and rum, and all the food we need to feed us morning noon and night, as where we hope to go there are no shops or restaurants to pop out too.  We successfully sourced a starter spring for the outboard engine in Nassau and were extremely impressed when the lady put it on the ferry and shipped it to Georgetown for the next day for a grand total of $3.50US.  A prompt service you don’t always see in the islands. We lunched in the Yacht Club, courtesy of Mum and Dad, enjoying fantastic views out across the bay and strolled about town - which doesn't take long as there is not a huge amount to see in the immediate vicinity.
The straw market, down town Georgetown, Bahamas
With all the jobs ticked off for this side of Elizabeth Harbour we lifted anchor and moved over to the Monument end of Stocking Island. While Sim made the boat shipshape stowing the kayaks and putting jerry jugs of diesel into the tanks, I took Mum and Dad for a walk on one of the trails to the Monument at the top of Monument Hill where an Osprey has made its nest.  It was yet another brisk and windy day making the walk along the narrow precipices all the more hairy.  But we were rewarded with spectacular views out across the east side of Stocking Island where white waves crashed onto the beaches so different  from the clam and balmy walk Sim and I had had a few days earlier.
The Monument with an ospreys nest on top
We chose to take a day of lesser wind to move north so that we could keep the trip gentle up to our next destination, but as always there wasn't enough wind and in the end had to motor half of our 25 mile journey – Just as well our engine is fixed!
Wandering Star on one of the free moorings at Lee Stocking Island
Destination: Lee Stocking Island (not to be confused with Stocking Island).  Wot a place.  We picked up one of the five or six well maintained moorings in place just off the abandoned Marine research centre – part of the Perry Institute. We had heard about this place from our friends on Spirit of Argo who only a week or so ago had visited themselves.  This must have been one neat place in its heyday where I read that scientists and researchers from the likes of NOAA were performing cutting edge research. Sadly because of lack of funding the place was abruptly shut down and though I believe this happened a few years ago it’s pretty evident that they just upped and left. The setting is ideal; colourful bougainvillea climb around the cottages or stand alone as giant bushes on the pathways, coconut trees are everywhere – the fruit is there for the picking. The community must have been pretty self -sufficient with its own R/o facility, runway and huge stores of hardware, fridges and store rooms – it is so peaceful, pretty and serene; it’s the kind of place Sim and I imagine we could live.  Only it’s not because there is something very eerie about this place and sadly it has been well and truly pillaged.  Sim is only sorry we weren’t here a couple of years ago to go through the best stuff himself!  We walked in and out of abandoned homes, offices, labs and research centres, kitchens, dining rooms, huge hardware stores and aircraft hangar. Buildings have had wiring torn from the walls, ceilings hang down and rats and bats have obviously taken up residence.  The views and beaches on the windward side are fabulous and great for beach combing. The place is awesome and sad at the same time.  I wonder what will happen to it in the future.
Looking out across Elizabeth Harbour in George Town

Mum and Dad taking it easy

Mighty fine burger at the Exuma Yacht Club

Walking along the ridge at the top of the sand dune in Stocking Island

Looking out across the hurricane holes in Lee Stocking Island, Great Exuma

The Osprey at the Monument

Dad and myself taking a break on the walk to Monument Hill

The slipway for the research centre at Lee Stocking Island

One of the abandoned sheds at Lee Stocking Island

Whole rooms have been left deserted - this apparently was lobster house

The abandoned hanger by the small runway

Sim is in his element with all the bits and pieces left behind - has this tractor 
got a perkins engine in it?

A little freaky to find a hanging bugs bunny at a marine research center

So many abandoned buildings to explore at Lee Stocking Island

Another ransacked store room at the research center

One of the labs?

Dad knocking down coconuts

Then hacking open the coconuts in one of the old work rooms

Nobody has stolen the Decompression chamber yet!

Beautiful sunny day on Lee Stocking Island

Dad found a conch for dinner but Oh No its a hermit crab!

System for measuring sea levels

Amazing water colours at Lee Stocking Island

And wonderful beaches to beach-comb

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