Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spanish Cay

Before heading back to New Horizon after our Powell Cay trip, we decided to go to the next island north called Spanish Cay. This is where our Bahamas cruising history began in 1987. It is now a resort and marina, but back then it was owned by Clint Murchison who owned a football team. He rarely came to the island but he had father and son caretakers look after it for him. In the middle of Spanish Cay there is a small protected harbor, but it has a very shallow entrance. As we were headed back to the U.S. in our 28ft. sailboat, a nasty cold front was bearing down on us. We decided to take refuge and anchor there despite the fact that our guide book said that the owner discouraged people from doing just that. We were having problems getting our anchor to hold in the silt covered rock bottom, and at one point I looked up to see a man on a dock waving us over. We went over to talk to him, and I was sure he was going to tell us to leave, but to our surprise he invited us to the dock! He said with the cold front that was coming and the anchor holding so bad, that we might as well dock now, because that’s where we would drag down to anyway. We ended up staying 4 days and what an experience we had. This was the son of the caretaker and he was by himself and lonely. He had a jeep and a Doberman dog that was a wimp (he was really quite funny), and he took us for tours of the island, and even to his house for dinner and hot showers. For ‘payment’ we helped him with his baby sea turtle project. He had collected eggs and hatched them, keeping them in a pen until they were large enough to survive on their own. The tiny turtles’ shells kept getting moldy, so we all sat there with toothbrushes and cleaned their shells. All the while he was regaling us with stories of visitors, beach finds (bales of pot and messages in bottles, among others), and the drug running days. The 70’s and 80’s were known for drug running in the Bahamas, but the problem had almost been eliminated by the late 80’s. Spanish Cay has a paved airplane runway on it, and the drug smugglers would radio small boats to meet them there to exchange contraband. This almost always happened at night and they would sometimes crash or miss the runway and end up in the sea. There are still remains of planes underwater and Dave even snorkeled on one this past trip.
Now the trend seems to be stealing go-fast and large center console boats with at least twin engines on them to smuggle not only drugs, but illegal aliens in. No matter how hard they try, it’s a never ending battle for the authorities.

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