Ghosts of the 60's and an unwelcome bush fire

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Thu 12 Mar 2015 15:35
What would we do without the internet? We can research places we are going to, providing we have a connection of some sort and keep in touch with friends and family. In the Bahamas that means finding a BTC office in the locality to buy new Sim cards for the phone and data stick we use for our communications home and for posting our blogs onto the internet. It usually works, but not always as we have to change settings that enabled us to do the same in the USA otherwise nothing works. That achieved we can explore the vicinity and write about what we see.
Well, one of the first things we saw here in Great Harbour Cay was a bush fire. And it was too damn close for comfort. It started around 0130 in the morning of the first night in the marina. We had only just remarked that it was good to escape the perpetual noise of sirens in the USA. Barely an hour goes by without hearing the things. One of the wonderful attributes the Bahamas has is peace and solitude. Until we were awoken at 0130 by.....a siren, which started in the distance and advanced closer and closer to the marina. Police maybe, or ambulance? Then our noses were assailed by the acrid fumes of burning wood. Well it wasn’t the marina as that’s made of concrete, but there’s no shortage of wood nearby and some of it was on fire. So it was the fire brigade.
m_025  m_026
Fire! fire! fetch the engine, fetch the engine, pour on water, pour on water –  a song from our school days comes to mind.
Later that morning the smoke was still rising out of the foliage near the road into town. We were downwind of the fire meaning that we then had to close all our hatches as the air became full of charred flakes of wood that were being blown towards us. That turned below into a sauna. The wind was on the increase which didn’t help matters and we could now see flames in the foliage with the fire definitely spreading downwind. The situation didn’t look great although we at least could cast off our lines and escape out into the anchorage where we’d spent the first night. One of the apartment residents with a boat at his dock did exactly that whilst we kept an eye on the situation. By the afternoon the firefighters seemed to have contained the fire. To put things into perspective, there is one engine and a distinct lack of hydrants so water barrels have to be filled and taken to the scene. It was still smoldering yesterday but the worst is hopefully over.
As mentioned before one of the issues we’ve had in leaving later this season is that we had consumed all the propane cooking gas we keep in our English gas bottles. Unfortunately, with regulations much tighter in the USA we were unable to have them refilled before leaving and they were both empty. We were kindly lent a small USA bottle by one of the marina workers which we filled and refilled before leaving Titusville. We were halfway through this bottle on arrival in Great Harbour Cay only to find that there is no way of refilling this bottle or either of our English bottles here on the island. All empties have to be sent to Nassau on the weekly mail boat. Well, it’s weekly for three weeks a month and it then misses a week and you can guess which week it’s missing this month. So, no chance of propane gas here. But the gods were smiling on us in the shape of our cruising friends Tom & Chris in their ‘new this season to them’ Morgan 41. They were heading back to the States early and had a spare full bottle which we negotiated a deal on involving the on-site restaurant and bar and we were in the gas again. However, we are now awash with gas bottles onboard. One full, one half full and two empty which we must get filled somewhere or the whole scenario will start again next season!
Also paying a fleeting visit to the marina were other friends we hadn’t seen for some time. We naturally all congregated for drinks on the Morgan with it’s huge cockpit and then attended the cruisers pot luck evening organised by the marina. It was great to catch up with them all, if only briefly before they set sail back to Florida.
m_030  m_034
‘Skip’ daring to sit next to a hairdresser of all people – yes the joke was about the hair of course............cruisers and food –  we love it!
Finally having a chance to escape the Marina we took the road to the beach about a mile away on a hot sunny afternoon. First stop was the ruins of the famous club that was built in the sixties and was frequented (as local history reports, and on the internet of course) by the likes of Cary Grant, The Rat Pack, Brigitte Bardot to name a few. Right next to the club an 18 hole golf course was constructed and attended by the likes of Jack Nicklaus who also used the exclusive club. The marina was part of the same prestigious construction programme from that time and it seems to have faired better than the club or the golf course if the quality of the grass is anything to go by. The former club with collapsed roof structures and overgrown with trees and shrubs is right by the roadside. As we all know nature always reclaims what you take from it in the end. With typical construction materials of the period namely concrete it can still be viewed in relative safety without fear of the floor collapsing from under you. It was certainly a large building and if you let your imagination run a little, well, you could be back there with those famous celebrities enjoying what was at the time a very exclusive club on an equally exclusive island destination. Somebody mentioned that if you explore deeper into one of the dark spaces there are a zillion bats hanging around in there – Err No Thanks.
m_044  m_047
Approaching the club ruins from the marina                                                                                    ‘Admiral’ at the entrance
m_048  m_051  m_054
The staircase that lead to the bar                                           we never did get served                                                                        This looked like one of the bedrooms with panoramic balcony
                                                          ... the bridge leads to the golf course with a backwards glance to the club ruins
  m_068 m_067
  Goodness knows what the par for the course is now – probably into three figures        Still smoldering from the fire the ruins of one of the lodges c/w bath that were built along the ridge overlooking the marina. The metal posts supported the wooden floors that are long since gone
We finally made the beach but the road there wasn’t without it’s humorous points of interest...........
m_072  m_073
We didn’t see a single one they are all in golf carts these days                                 Lots of big wooden poles a specialty - not sure where this project was going – upwards we guess
It’s seven miles long and we didn’t walk the whole length of the beach in that heat. We stopped for beers at the beach club with views into the distance. The colours of course astounding as they most often are in the Bahamas.
m_078  m_079
We never tire of the wonderful Bahamas beaches – but they take a lot of walking!
Beers consumed it was off walking about two miles to the end where there was a deeper pool of water surrounded by shallow sand banks with the tide still out. ‘Skip’ took to the water to cool off for a few minutes in his underwear (which could be mistaken for Speedos from a distance - seven miles of beach – only three other people on it for goodness sake!) but then had a painful re-union with his shorts where a couple of burrs that had caught in his shoe laces had found their way into the posterior section of his net bag when passing by the shoe laces! Ouch! (The‘Admiral’ to the rescue – thankfully).
m_083 m_085
He just couldn’t resist the temptation to get in there for a first swim
On the way back we were offered a lift by a kind lady in a golf cart who was heading in the direction of the marina. We sat in the back seat as her Rat Terrier occupied the remaining front seat and didn’t look the sort of dog to allow some tangle-haired hobbledehoy clutching wet underwear anywhere near it’s owner. So the two of us enjoyed the two mile buggy ride staring into the dog’s backside. We were grateful of the lift back even if the cart lurched dangerously near the edge of the road whenever the lady leaned round to talk with us! Maybe the dog was trained to bark a warning at the last second before impending doom.
Next time we’ll be going into town to search for eggs. Always an adventure!