Within a couple of days of Dave's arrival back to George Town after his February business trip, Dave's parents joined us for a week on board. They flew in to George Town, and were picked up and delivered to the dock by Junior, the taxi driver who had been taking care of Dave for his two trips back to the USA. Strong winds had been blowing in George Town, and we had had to have some work done on our drivetrain, so we decided to stay at the dock for the night and we welcomed them aboard. The next morning we backed off the dock and crossed Elizabeth Harbour to the anchorage at Stocking Island's Volleyball Beach and then we spent the day showing Mom & Dad around and introducing them to all the friends we had met in the previous two months. During the day, the wind died down as forecast, enabling us to firm up plans to sail the next day to a new anchorage.
On Thursday the weather finally cleared and we sailed, in light air with both spinnakers flying, 20 miles north to Lee Stocking Island. A couple of mahi-mahi found their way onto our hooks, so fresh fish was on the menu for our first night at anchor at Lee Stocking. Mom & Dad were amazed at the excitement and action when the first fish hit our lure - Nancy slowing the boat and turning it slightly into the wind, Dave manning the rod and reel while Chris and Josh gather up the gaff, fish towel and alcohol. We always welcome new fish arrivals with "a warm blanket and a welcome cocktail". Wrapping the fish in a wet towel calms them down, and a squirt of alcohol on the gills settles them down long enough for a proper dispatching before cleaning. Within 30 minutes, the mahi-mahi filets were in the fridge and the carcasses were returned to the food chain, and we resumed our sail to Lee Stocking.
Lee Stocking Island is home to the Perry Institute for Marine Research, started by a marine biologist many years ago and now run as a collaborative effort of a few American universities. We were fortunate to be able to enjoy a tour of the Institute, where we learned about their research. Their studies include coral reef diseases, breeding programs for tilapia and conch, and research on the impact of lion fish. There are several stories about how the lion fish, native to the Pacific ocean, came to exist in non-native Atlantic waters, but the most likely is that, apparently, many years ago, five lion fish escaped from a Miami aquarium, probably due to hurricane damage in the 1992 Hurricane Andrew, and began breeding and migrating to the Bahamas. Lion fish have no natural predators here in the Atlantic. They are voracious feeders and breeders and are consuming the reef fish in enormous quantities, endangering native fish populations, especially groupers. Lion fish can even pry a conch out of its shell - not an easy task, as Dave can attest. While these fish are beautiful, fishers are encouraged to kill them (and Dave does his part, spearing them whenever he can safely while hunting).
Later during our four day stay we took a long dinghy ride to Norman's Pond Cay where we explored beaches, found conch, and took the dinghy up into an old abandoned salt pond on the interior of the island. You can still see the ruins of the old walls and channels where salt water was moved into ponds and, after the water evaporated, the salt was harvested. The ride into the salt pond included carrying our dinghy over the remains of the gate and motoring through a shallow mangrove channel. As it was still low tide, there were many exposed beaches and tide pools. These pools were full of mangrove upsidedown jelly fish, a non-stinging variety that lie upside down in tide pools and shallow water. If you
We spent an afternoon exploring the trails and beautiful beaches of Lee Stocking Island. The waters around this area are shallow and crystal clear. Large cushion sea stars are everywhere, doting the white sand with their red and orange colors. Patches of coral and sea fans could be enjoyed right from the dinghy. After landing the dinghy on Coconut Beach, we hiked the 123 ft to the top of Perry Peak, the highest point in the Exumas which afforded us a beautiful view of the area, including a set of rocks sitting out by themselves called "Tug and Barge" because of their resemblance. Even the charts mark them this way.
Later that day we moved Liberty from the Lee Stocking anchorage out to the nearby anchorage between Leaf Cay and Norman's Pond Cay, and spent two more nights at anchor there. We explored the most gorgeous, tiny crescent beach and tide pools on Leaf Cay, where we were surprised by large iguanas that came to the beach to sun themselves and investigate our beach toys. At the edge of Leaf Cay's pristine beach, there is a limestone outcropping of tide pools where we discovered such treats as plume worms, mantis shrimp, sea urchins, starfish and baby fish. Later we snorkeled on beautiful coral reefs just off Norman's Pond Cay, and Dave, Chris and Josh brought back four nice lobsters from the coral heads and ledges between Leaf and Adderly Cays.
At the end of their week on board, we sailed Liberty back to George Town, under spinnaker again, to wrap up a wonderful week. Grandparents and grandchildren, and Nancy and Dave, all had a wonderful visit, with wonderful weather, much exploring, fine dining, and excitement.
Following an island tradition, Chris and Josh blow their conch horns to salute the setting sun and signal the end of another wonderful day in the Bahamas.
turn one over, it pulsates through the water until it turns back upside down and settles to the bottom. They are very pretty. We also found many beautiful, large clam shells that the herons leave behind after feeding on the clams inside.
Grandma and Grandpa with a cushion sea star
Visiting the Perry Institute on Lee Stocking Island
Underway to Lee Stocking Island
Our 40" Mahi, one of two we caught
We took a tour of the Perry Institute
Perry Institute Science Lab
Mangrove Creek at
Norman's Pond Cay
Exploring the tide pools
around the mangroves
Mangrove Upsidedown Jellyfish
View of the Exuma chain
from Perry's Peak
Perry's Peak at 123ft. is the
highest point in the Exumas
Leaf Cay beach and surrounds
Large Iguanas roam the beach
The guys brought back
lobster for dinner
Coral formation at Norman's Pond Cay
Queen Angelfish and Squirrelfish
on the coral reef
Liberty under sail with spinnaker flying
Sunset over Norman's Pond Cay