Lee Stocking Island
January 21st-January 27th, 2021
Lee Stocking Island, Wow Wow Wow! Favorite place so far. We had stopped at William's Cay last year for a night on way home but this time we stayed several days in a couple of different anchorages. First took boat to Tug and Barge Rocks to snorkel. Anchored there for a couple of hours and snorkeled with Val and Menno, and Lana and Robert. Then, anchored at William’s Bay. Beautiful gorgeous hikes and paddleboarding. After a couple of days, moved up to the northern anchorage near the abandoned marine center to hike those areas.
The research station of the Perry Institute for Marine Science was founded by and named for John Perry, who purchased Lee Stocking Island in 1957. By 1970, he had established a thriving scientific center that included a tropical marine laboratory equipped to study the coral reefs, fisheries, ecosystems and underwater biodiversity of the region, as well as facilities to develop manned and unmanned submersibles. In 1984, the center became part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Undersea Research Program, conducting more than 600 submersible dives and tens of thousands of investigative scuba dives, making it one of the most active marine labs in the world. The submersible unit was sold to Lockheed Martin in 1989, but the institute continued its oceanographic studies and added programs for training and educating new generations of marine scientists and stewards.
Then, a few years ago (2012), its grant ran out, the funding dried up, and everyone just left. Because of the difficulty and expense of packing and transporting all the machinery, equipment, appliances, furniture, tools and even many personal belongings, they were simply left behind, and the entire fully outfitted contemporary village was abandoned. Since then, many portable items of any practical use or value have been carted off by scavengers, yet more than enough remains to give the place an almost-still-lived-in feeling.” (extract from cruisingworld.com)
Very eerie place. The researchers left in a hurry. You could enter some of the buildings and see their old computers and equipment along with grants and salary info. It was like capturing a moment in time. One of the buildings even had an old hyperbaric chamber. Freaked Kevin and I out when we flipped the switch on a centrifuge and it still worked!
We also snorkeled some fantastic yellow elkhorn coral on north side. Took dinghy and snorkeled at the top of Norman’s Cay and stopped and saw the iguanas again on Leaf Cay. Collected some coconuts. Kevin and I learned how to pick coconuts and various stages and peel off the outer shell to reach the nut and fresh coconut. Quite a bit of work. Waited out a cold front there.