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Thursday, September 1, 2011

"You didn't actually go on Normans Cay ? did you ?'

 (continued from; "God looks out for Fools, Drunks and Children"   The morning of the crossing  was the first time I understood the advantages of the Trimaran design. The "draft" (boat below the waterline)  on multi hulls like Catamarans and Trimarans is much less than Mono hull boats, giving it advantages is shallow water. Our Boat had a draft of about 2 1/2 ft  and on that morning we made it safely over the reef ! . We anchored in calm water right off a beautiful beach and then the sun came out . It was so much to process, for the last 11 hours , we were filled with fear and uncertainty. Now we had just Anchored in Paradise  ..  In the next week or so  we sailed up and down the Bimini chain before heading to the Berry Islands , and then into Nassau form Nassau down to the Exuma chain,  we would spend a week or 2 in each  area  and move on ...
Norman's Cay is a small island in the Bahamas--210 miles off the Florida coast. For four years it was a drug smuggling hub and tropical hideaway for Medellin cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder and associates. Lehder arrived there in 1978 and started buying up large pieces of property, including a home for himself, a hotel and an airstrip. With his arrival, the locals noticed a marked increase in airplane traffic on the island's tiny airstrip, as well as armed guards patrolling the beaches.
In July 1980, a yacht belonging to a retired Fort Meyers couple was found drifting with a corpse and blood stains on board near Norman's Cay. Eventually Lehder harassed the island's residents and visitors until they fled, while Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, who investigators believe had accepted Lehder's bribes, did nothing to stop him. He in effect took over the entire island.                                                         Its early spring 1983  The free anchorage at Highborne Cay Exuma is small and crowded, its advised that boaters use Bow and Stern anchors to maintain their position in the harbor, there isn't room for the boats to swing  with the tides .  It was this type of Crowd we liked to avoid .                                           The Bahamas is made up of 29 Islands and 661 Cays, once you get in a chain like the Berry Islands  or Exumas  you can see the nearby Islands and reach them in a few hours.  Time to go exploring again we set sail for Normans Cay !                 The sail to Normans was easy and relaxing , nice weather fair winds,  we were paralleling the coast looking for a safe anchor, we saw many houses but strangely no people , we passed 5 or 6 houses no sign of life.  We decided that they were likely  vacation homes looked after by a care taker ( very common the the Islands) .  We came around the point and saw what looked like a restaurant but no sign of life.   Up ahead was a harbor and right in the middle was a  large 1/2  submerged    aircraft , what I thought was a DC 3.. how cool !   And the best part no other boats , we  anchored and quickly swam out to the Plane , It looked as if it had been there no more than 3 months we climbed all over it in side and out. We had a bottle rum and toasted our good fortune ! We made our way to a pier and tied up , the Pier and Marina empty, by the time we looked around the restaurant we decided that Normans Cay it must have been a resort that had gone bankrupt.                                                                                       This was a real adventure we walked down the street, a laundromat empty, cottages empty, we made our way to a nice house overlooking the bay.  " Any one home" we announced as we knocked on the door . no answer . We went inside  the house , it looked as if someone  had searched it , items scattered on the floor I remember seeing rock and roll albums LPs, all over the floor.  The power had been cut off  I opened up the  frig and the food had not yet  spoiled, the eggs were still good ,  the evidence suggested that all Island  residents  had left quickly 3-4 weeks ago..                                                                       That night on the boat there was many questions and no answers, our feeling was uneasy .      The next morning at daylight Mary and I walked right up the street , we had decided to find someone and  get answers .   About 1/4 mile up the road we saw a house on stilts with lights on, as we got closer we could hear voices , We walked right up and knocked on the door.   The voices went silent , I could hear several people  shuffling about the door swung open , inside was 1 man standing at the door and 3 men eating breakfast ,  all were armed with Assault Rifles  !  to be continued ........

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