1st April to 18th April 2015
1 Lee Stocking Island:
From Georgetown we head out to the drop off to be in deeper water for fishing.
Our Captain’s fishing skills pay off. A big Dorado took the lure and after a nice fight he was on Vagabund. The rum in his mouth put him down for 15 min before he start flapping again.
With our deep fridge already full we invited all our friends for supper on Vagabund. The entrance fee was a side dish. It was an evening of laughter and chatting.
Enter through Adderly Cay Cut and anchor in front of the Carribean Marine Research Station.
Beautiful Beach with white sand and clear water was around the corner of the mooring balls of the Research Station.
A brunch after all the exercise to fill our empty stomachs.
The Research center has been sold and the center is now closed. It is almost as if everyone on the island was told to pack up and leave in less than an hour.
“The institute was started by John H. Perry Jr. (1917-2006) of newspaper publication prominence. Seventeen years after the war John Perry bought the 600-acre Lee Stocking Island, off Barre Terre, Exuma, for a mere $70,000 in 1957. Lee Stocking proved to be an ideal setting for Perry's other big interests - marine research and renewable energy. He developed the island as a scientific field station and tried to make it self-supporting by translating new technologies into working models on the property.
And from the early 1980s until 2006, NOAA helped fund the research center at Lee Stocking Island, which included laboratories, housing, airstrip, docks, boats, and dive support facilities.
Scientists and researchers at the Caribbean Marine Research Center focused on four key areas - building sustainable fisheries, maintaining healthy coastal ecosystems, predicting environmental change, and gaining new biological and economical value from the sea. For more than two decades, scientists had explored the mysteries of the ocean from a base in the Bahamas run by the Jupiter-based Perry Institute for Marine Science.
A major, unexpected reduction in federal money has forced undersea research organizations along the East Coast to scale back operations. This former NOAA research center, also called the Perry Institute, had been sold and abandoned December 2012.”
Runway 12 used in the time of the Research Centre running.
Lots of equipment is lying around. This tractor needed a push.
Keeping ourselves entertained. Brett enjoyed being a kid again.
Looking for bonefish
2 Rudder Cut Cay (David Copperfield)
With the dawn breaking we could saw a section of the bloodmoon of 4th April. Blood Moon is sometimes used to describe a Total Lunar Eclipse. When the Earth casts its shadow on a Full Moon and eclipses it, the Moon may get a red glow.
From Lee Stocking Island we sail on the inside of the Exuma Cays with the depth showing on the cards as 1 m MLW. On the last section Vagabund lead with Panache following.
We had anchored on the beautiful Rudder Cut Cay, next to a pristine island. It also turns out that they took privacy for their guests pretty seriously. There were multiple no trespassing signs, and what looked like a solar powered security camera on the beach. The island was privately owned. I guess for that kind of money, you don’t want smelly cruisers wandering around on your private island.
Inspecting the anchor in cristal clear water.
Anchorage with big stingrays swimming under Vagabund.
Zack was doing his daily exercise.
Around the corner was a cave.
Great snorkeling in the shallow water of Guana Cay.
South of the beach is the a full size stainless steel sculpture of a mermaid playing a piano. The statue was so intriguing that we spent a long time just snorkeling around it and diving on it, inspecting every nook and cranny.
“David Copperfield (the magician, not the Dickens character) commissioned the sculpture of the mermaid, and had it sunk off the islands a couple of years ago, so it is not that old. David Copperfield owns Musha Cay, and the islands around it, including Rudder Cut Cay, He has turned it into an ultra-exclusive high end resort. They only take a few guests at a time, and rates start at just $37,500 per night. There are no extra zeros by accident.”
Zack entertained us on the piano.
At sunset blowing of the conch. It is a modern day ritual to blow the “Pū” (conch) to say goodbye at sunset to end the day and to say Mahalo (thanks). Sunset with Kaya Moya, Vagabund and Panache.
3 Little Farmer Cay
On our way to Little Farmer Cay we stopped at Musha Cay to snorkeled at an airplane wreck.
"Little Farmers Cay was settled by a woman named Christinna Brown, a freed slave from Great Exuma. She moved to Farmers Cay with her two suns and daughter. They bought the island from the English Crown and willed it to their descendants as generation property. They farmed and fished. Most of the 55 current residents are descended from those hardy ancestors."
Three dinghies on the beach with us all exploring this small island on a Sunday afternoon.
No Loathing here.
Relaxing on deckchairs
4 Great Guana Cay
White Point: Ospreys live closed to water as fish make up 99% of their diet. Ospreys usually mate for life as long as breeding is successful.
The females choose their mate based on the location and quality of the nest. Large nests are built out of sticks usually on offshore islands.
We visited a few days the Black Point Settlement. Stock up, doing laundry and Wifi.
5 Bitter Guana Cay
On our way to anchor at Bitter Guana Cay
Close to Dotham Cut an Osprey build his nest on the edge of the cliff.
Bitter Guana Cay in the Exuma chain of the Bahamas is famous for its population of critically endangered Exuma island iguanas.
They can grow to 80 years old.
From the top of the hill overlooking Vagabund in the bay
This tiny island boasts with some magnificent beaches, spectacular crashing waves on the eastern shore.
Brett and Gideon of Panache were enjoying the water after our hike.
6 Staniel Cay
The Friendly swimming pigs
"The pigs are said to have been dropped off on Big Major Cay by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them. The sailors, though, never returned; the pigs survived on excess food dumped from passing ships. One other legend has it that the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore, while another claims that the pigs had escaped from a nearby islet."
The pigs are now fed by locals and tourists. Arriving at the beach with a dinghy they came out of the bush.
Swimming out to the dinghy towards us.
Open her mouth wide so that she can receive food
Brett and Gideon explaining to the pig that they did not have any food.
There are several entrances where people can swim through the holes to get into the cavern inside. Some of the tunnels are underwater and you have to swim through a short overhang and hold your breath for a few seconds until you come out the other end of a giant chamber.
When you looked back towards the cave opening sunbeams lighting up hundreds of colorful fish. Everywhere we turned, rays of light danced in the crystal clear waters within the cave. James Bond movie: Thunderball as well as Splash were filmed here.
Two Plane Wrecks
Diving the plane wrecks
Feeding the nurse sharks at the Yacht club
7 Compass Cay
Kayak Fishing: While paddling with our kayak Zack hooked up with a nice fish. Despite the fish dragging us all over I still managed to paddle the kayak back to the boat to get the gaff. Zack released the fish after taking the hook out.
Inside Compass Cay Marina the nurse sharks had learned to swim onto the platform to be patted. The sharks skin felt like sand paper.
We timed our snorkeling at Rocky Dundas at the turn of low tide in order to enter the two caves safely. Both the caves had beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations and it is legend that these caves were sacred sites for the Lucayans.
John eyeing out another possible good photo.
The three ships (Khya Moya, Panache and Vagabund) arrived at Compass Cay, went on land and declared this piece of land belonging to South Africa for the rest of the afternoon. We had a traditional braai to celebrate the newfound land.
Rachel’s bubble bath
A crystal clear pool that receives breaking waves from the ocean side at high tide. Soon after this photo we had to fish out Zack's sunglasses.