There are some people who return to the Exumas year after year. It’s not surprising given how beautiful it is, but last year part of me wondered if they didn’t get a little tired of revisiting the same cays. Now that we are repeating some of the same spots ourselves, I can see why they do it. We’ve discovered that simply by anchoring in a different area in the same cay it can be like going to an entirely new island.
This really became clear when we finally arrived at Lee Stocking. After two aborted attempts to get south of Staniel Cay (a steady 18 knots+ dead on the nose with accompanying chop had us turning back – no need to beat up ourselves or the boat if it’s not necessary), the third time was a charm on a windless day. Yes, we would have preferred to sail, but at this point we were beggars who weren’t going to be choosers.
We didn’t have enough daylight to make it all the way to Georgetown so we stopped at Lee Stocking which was as far as we could get. The plan was to finish the last 25 nautical miles to Georgetown the next day, but as has been typical this season one good day was followed by five days of high wind.
We debated going to Georgetown anyway. We could have gone. But we are finally reaching a level of experience where we know what conditions we like and what we don’t, and we are recognizing that – for us – staying put for almost a week in a quality anchorage is preferable to bashing into strong wind for 5 hours. In this case we were well-protected behind the highest hills in the Exumas so the water was pretty flat; unlike Pipe Cay or Staniel there was no strong current to influence when we could play in the water; and we had read there were some hiking trails. So we decided to stay put. What followed was our most pleasant stretch since arriving in the Bahamas.
Lee Stocking is home to an abandoned research center, so last year we anchored near there to explore. This year we anchored farther south down the cay where the higher hills would give us better wind protection. It ended up being a completely different experience. Now we could REALLY understand why people don’t get tired of revisiting the same cays.
We explored hiking trails, including the short climb up to Pikes Peak which is the highest point in the Exumas.
Surveyor’s mark at the top of Pikes Peak.
Every afternoon found us floating on our pool noodles in a secluded cove that we had all to ourselves (we decided to name it “Boneham Beach”).
Finally, we had the best snorkeling of either trip with schools of at least 50 fish, and we saw rays and nurse sharks from the boat. It was a great stop.
Frankly, we could have stayed for another week but when a day opened up for us to make it to Georgetown, we reluctantly raised the anchor vowing that we would definitely return this season.