Norman’s Pond and Lee Stocking Island, Exumas

February 10th and 11th

The morning of the 10th, we headed out the cut and had a sporty up wind sail to an anchorage between Norman’s Pond and Lee Stocking Island.  We anchored by a beautiful barely awash sand bar protecting us from waves, but coming in the cut, it was a bit exciting with strong current and decent size waves.  A boat going out hailed us to ask about conditions, and Jeff said, “it’s a bit bumpy, not bad.”  We felt bad when we saw their boat was much smaller than ours, and they turned around and came back in after getting bashed around a bit.  Norman’s Pond does have a big pond as advertised, but no trails or people or wildlife of note, so our adventure the next day was to explore Lee Stocking Island.  There was a fairly big time marine biology research station there until 2016.  Some online advice was out of date and said call to get permission to use their dock.  Some big pieces of the dock are still there, but there is certainly no one around to ask for the tour.  The grant that funded the island ran out unexpectedly in 2016 and everyone just decamped and left everything behind.  A small airplane hanger, a computer center with computers still on the desks, fish tanks for raising fish, a gas station with a car and a back hoe, and I enjoyed a white board in  a lab with dates the various fish tanks were last checked, and what was in them.  It looks like people just set down their pencils and ran for it.  The story on line is that they looked at the cost of moving all their stuff to another research center by a combo of boats and planes, and it would be cheaper to just by new, so they left it.  It’s amazing how much everything has been eroded and rusted in just 5 years.  The vegetation is reclaiming the paved runway and the back half of the hanger had fallen in, but there was still a desk with labels on its file drawers in there too.  It made me feel like I was in a season 5 episode of the Walking Dead, when all the canned goods had already been eaten, and only useless things like dry erase markers were left.  Only it was so sunny and beautiful, we couldn’t really keep the spooky feeling going.

There was a huge “trespassers will be prosecuted” sign, but as we were leaving, we saw a security guard in the distance and he just waved.  Phew!

Our Hylas friends joined us that afternoon and we left together the following morning.  It was fun seeing them follow us out the cut with the waves pitching them up at a 45 degree angle…  It made me feel very salty that we did that moments before and I wasn’t even scared.  I think it looks worse than it feels when you are actually doing it.  As usual on the thorny path, the wind was 20 knots on the nose, so it was slow going to George Town.  Our friends left us half way to go in to a marina, but we persevered.  It’s good practice for us for the passage to the Dominican Republic (300 miles instead of these 25 mile practice runs) and our close hauled tacks are getting pretty snappy, if I do say so myself.

Next spot, George Town on Great Exuma.