Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Very Private Island

Whipping winds, lashing rain and chilling cold are keeping us tied to the dock on Highbourne Cay.  Our guests are becoming inventive at entertaining themselves.  Stuck in one place instead of the pre-planned itinerary they had envisioned has been a bit of a challenge.  One thing they have quickly learned though is to stick to the lee side of the island.  They will never forget Highbourne Cay!

For myself, I've assumed the role of investigative reporter, snooping for an interesting story to share with my readers.  Louis Lane I'm not, but then, anyone could write stories about the antics of Superman.  Every island has its characters.  Today I met Jeff, Steve and Eric; humble folks all of them and not a red cape in sight.

Jeff lives on H.C. 6 weeks thru the winter months.  He hails from Cape May, N.J.  An extremely polite gentleman in his early 30's, he is good looking in his baseball cap and jeans.  Jeff is oh so reserved and quiet and disappeared quickly when one became distracted and turned away. 

Mr. and Mrs. Geriatric Sailors were desperate to get off their boat.  The wind was pushing them off the dock, their boat was being tossed back and forth by the waves and their arthritic hands couldn't pull strongly enough on the ropes to close the gap and make a jump for it.  By the time I had both them and their gear ashore, Jeff had vanished.

Steve is a most congenial fellow.  It's difficult for me to judge, but he looks to be maybe 40-something.  He has one daughter in college prep and one who is only a year old.  "You pay for your mistakes" he told me.  There a few grey hairs curling around his ears.  His warm smile and laughing eyes are most engaging as he recounts stories from his past.

Born and raised on Eleuthra Island, he graduated in Hotel Management, specializing in food and beverage.  Right out of school, he took a job at a resort on Rock Sound, where he met and was snapped up by Mr. Paul __, a Canadian bigwig who wintered there. 

Thus began Steve's life as a butler.  "It's in my nature to help people" he said.  His mother was in service all her life.  It's in his blood.
He warmed to his tale as he told of limousines, private jets, shopping expeditions in Nassau and life in the fast lane.  He hob nobbed with the rich and famous for more than 3 years.

Today, Steve is one of the several dock hands in the H.C. Marina.  Since the first week of January, his main job has been rebuilding the docks, one plank of lumber at a time.  So far he has finished less than 1/4 of the whole--a big job.  No wonder he walks around with knee pads on.

Eric has been Dock Master here for the past 12 years.  His home is on Spanish Wells, where he will be retiring at the end of May this year.  He sports an elastic support stocking on his misshappen left leg.  A collision with a pick-up truck while piloting a motor cycle left him battling osteomylitis for the last 20 years.  It's a chronic condition that flares up unpredictably.  He is resigned to it, just happy to have the leg at all.

"How is it living here, on a small island like this" I asked? 

"Quiet.  There's no town.  You close your door, go to sleep and that's the end of it.  It's an okay place if you don't have problems."

"Problems" I prompted?

"I don't like to say" was his response. 

He looks away, out to sea, avoiding my eyes.  Like I said, I am only playing at the investigative reporter role and to press this issue seemed nosey and rude.  "You keep your nose out of other people's buisness."

"Ah huh."

I changed the subject to land for sale on H.C.  "No way" he said.  "This is a private island"  Purchased outright 50 or 60 years ago by a Philadelphian, from the original generational owners, it is now owned by more than one individual. 

"How many? Are there plans to develope the island?"

"I don't like to say"

"Who governs the running of the island?"

"The managers."

"Would that be the individual owners?"

"The managers."  Man! It was like pulling teeth.  Reminds me of trying to chat up a farmer in Vermont.  Taciturn men at the best of times.

He did say this is a private island.  That would be CAPITAL P, CAPITAL R, CAPITAL I. V. A. T. E.  Louis Lane would have to be stranded here for way longer than 3 days to get past the privacy issues here and learn the juicy stories.

The guests are back from a 4 hour excursion.  They decorated a "shoe tree" from singletons washed up on shore.  Their camera is full of pictures and they have big, hungry smiles on their faces.  Did I mention that guests eat alot?

What do you think?  Would you be able to live on a small island like this?  Would you "have problems" and if so, what do you think they might be that would be so secretive?  For me, a boat is a good way to move on when things get a little out of hand, one way or another.
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