pipecay13

Laura (pictured here with Allison), showing us around the island she and her husband Stan have made their home for the past two cruising seasons. They’ve created  a network of trails spanning the length of the island that are open to all for recreational use.

There’s an ongoing fantasy game that Brian and I play as we hop from one uninhabited island to the next. It’s called If This Was My Island (and if money was no object), What Would I Do? Sitting on remote beaches, I describe details of imaginary guest cottages, the perfect little restaurant, and the type of food I’d cook for my guests.

One morning in Pipe Cay, we met a couple from Oswego, NY who once sat on the beach and saw an opportunity to build their own version of paradise. And they went for it.

Laura and Stan are not typical cruisers. Three years ago, newly retired, they spent a winter cruising the Bahamas and became enchanted with Pipe Cay.  Laura, a former trainer, is a pistol.  The first year of cruising felt too idle and she longed for meaningful daily exercise. The following season, she and Stan returned to the Bahamas with a plan – to dock their boat at an abandoned weather station in Pipe Cay, live there for the season, and build trails for recreation, available to all.

Using nothing but found objects, they’ve carved out a network of trails that utilize the terrain and highlight the beautiful views on all sides of the island. Laura burns energy running the trails and working out in a small gym she set up on the island. She and Stan are enthusiastic ambassadors, leading regular walking tours of the trails and fishing expeditions in the area, and assigning tasks for cruiser volunteers who help with upkeep.

Laura was thrilled when we expressed interest in going on a trail run with her (she called us her “victims”), I don’t think she sees a ton of runners coming through on boats. For Brian and I, it was our first run since Florida and turned out to be somewhat torturous. Laura, ever the coach, pushed us through it and distracted us all along the way, pointing out pretty spots. It was worth the pain to glimpse into the lives of two people brave and ingenious enough to live their island dream.

pipecay10

pipecay9

Allison, crossing a precarious tide pool

pipecay7

IMG_8165

pipecay5

pipecay6

pipecay3

Brian, approaching the spot where Laura’s boat is docked.

Laura2

m/v Laura D, the fishing boat that Laura and her Husband refitted for cruising. She’s tied up to “the wall”, an abandoned dock that was once used to service the Decca weather research center.

pipecay2

The creepy remains of the Decca weather research station

pipecay

pipecay8

pipecay16

laura1

I used Run Keeper to track our trail run. The app couldn’t find us on a map, but it was able to record our movements. We went just shy of 4 miles.

Cruisers in the Exhumas, don’t miss the opportunity to go spend a day hiking around Pipe Cay and enjoying the beautiful beaches there. Laura and Stan welcome you to stop by, enjoy the trails, and volunteer to help them with the upkeep. They will not be returning for the 2017 season, and hope that other cruisers may tend the trails in their absence (the free dock on the island is listed on Active Captain). If you are interested in touring the island with Laura and Stan and/or volunteering with upkeep, please leave a note in the comments and I will put you in touch.