Monday, April 11, 2016

Rum Cay: The Unspoilt Jewel of the Bahamas

Rum cay is a small island measuring 30 square miles and only has about thirty people living on it. Last year when we stopped at Port Nelson, the island’s main settlement, we were able to get a few groceries, have a few drinks at Kay’s Bar and Restaurant, and eat out at one of the few restaurants. This time around we weren’t sure what to expect since the island was hit hard by Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015.

When we were here before, we saw a few guys replacing boards on the pier, and the first thing we noticed this year when going to land via dinghy was that most of the pier was gone. After pulling the dinghy ashore, we walked a few feet over to Kay’s Bar since Snorre, a Norwegian guy who came over to Dulcinea to introduce himself, said the grocery store had been badly damaged and had moved to Kay’s. Kay’s is owned and run by Delores, who is a sweet, cheerful lady in her eighties. The grocery store didn’t have much, but we were able to get some lettuce, apples, and cheese.
The wrecked pier

The old grocery store

As David went to fill the jerry cans with well water, I went to sit at the bar next to Delores, where she was watching a televised church service. She immediately got up to get me a beer, even though I didn’t ask and it wasn’t quite twelve o’clock. Not that I’m complaining! It did feel a little weird sipping a beer while she was singing the praises of Jesus though.

Delores is sitting at the bar. It is also known as the Sand Bar because there is no floor, just sand.
David came back in, and she offered to share her lunch with us, which we tried to politely decline since we had just eaten on the boat. She wouldn’t let us refuse though and brought us a plate of chicken, cole slaw, peas and rice, and kale to share. After we cleaned the plate, we decided to head back to the boat and handed her a $5 to pay for the beer. She gave us our change and a free beer for the road. She is such a kind, generous lady!

Before leaving, she told us a little bit of what happened during the hurricane. She said the roof of the bar had been completely ripped off, and there was a few feet of standing water in the bar. She said that everybody had been moved to the church until it started filling with water, and then they had to move more inland to the clinic. I can’t imagine having to hunker down and wait out a dangerous Category 4 hurricane. It must have been very frightening not knowing how long it would last and how bad it would get. After the storm passed, she said the government really stepped in and helped. The prime minister came to visit, and he brought supplies and volunteers to repair roofs and other damage. She was very thankful for all the help they received.

That evening we went back to town just to get off the boat and went to Oceanview Restaurant and Bar since Kay’s was locked. We had a few drinks and watched a couple of movies and then decided to call it a night. However, we saw another dinghy on the beach and wanted to see who it belonged to so we wandered back over to Kay’s. We met Eric, who is a young guy living alone on his boat. He has been here a while since it is one of his favorite islands, and he goes out with the fishermen when they go spear fishing. He helps out by bringing the fish they catch back to the boat while they continue fishing. He said they always see reef sharks and blacktips. I told him that I am fascinated by sharks, but I am terrified of meeting one while I’m in the water. He said that it’s not a big deal to see one – he had three come too close for comfort the other day, and all he did was swim towards them and they quickly swam away. Then he offered to let us join them, and while I answered with an enthusiastic “yes” last night, I quickly changed my mind this morning.

We decided to go snorkeling in the bay this afternoon, and on the way to some coral heads, we saw a small tiger shark . At least I think it is was a tiger shark based on the markings I saw in the photo. We zoomed around in the dinghy chasing it and took underwater shots and videos of it. Then we saw a large ray as soon as we got in the water. Snorkeling wasn’t that great because the majority of the coral was bleached out and dead, and there weren’t that many fish. However, the shark and ray provided some excitement for the day!

Update: after doing some research, it seems it was a thresher shark, not a tiger.

Video of shark

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