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Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Day Treasure Cay Went Missing

Shore of Green Turtle Cay looking on the Sea of Abaco

A week or so ago, we were invited to lunch at Treasure Cay (pro. “key”) by a dear friend from Duluth, MN and her daughter who lives in Treasure Cay.  The plan was to meet at a restaurant located on what is considered one of the “10 most beautiful beaches in the world.”  (I’m only repeating what I’ve been told—I don’t read magazines that make claims about such things as “the best or most anything.”  In my view, “the best” usually means the most expensive and I’m probably not going there.)
Ferry backing up to our stern so we could jump onboard

Anyhow, since our sailboat was on the little island of Green Turtle Cay, and Treasure Cay was on the other side of the Sea of Abaco, on Great Abaco Island, we planned for an entire days’ outing. That morning I placed a call on VHF radio, Channel 16 to the Green Turtle Ferry.  The call goes something like this… Me: “Green Turtle Ferry, Green Turtle Ferry, Green Turtle Ferry, this is sailing vessel Northern Star.”  Ferry (female voice): “This is Green Turtle Ferry, go to Channel One Seven.”  Me - “Northern Star to One Seven.” Ferry:  “Green Turtle Ferry on One Seven.”  Me:  “Yes, we are a sailboat in White Sound and hoping to catch the 8:00 ferry.”  Ferry:  “Are you at the dock or on a mooring ball?”  (Odd question, I thought)  Me:  “We are on a mooring ball.”  Ferry:  “We will pick you up there.”  Me (a little puzzled, cuz I know where the ferry docks:  “So…. we will meet you at the ferry dock?”  Ferry:  “We can pick you up at your boat.”  Me:  “You can DO that?  Right off our boat?”  Ferry:  “Yes.  No problem.”  Me:  “That is awesome.”  Ferry:  (giggling) “Back to 16.”  
Four of these bags are our groceries from Marsh Harbor heading back to our boat.

When we arrived at the ferry dock on Great Abaco, a well dressed man met us with our rental car.  We were going to do some errands in the small city of Marsh Harbor in the morning, before our lunch date.  My friend’s daughter had arranged the rental car for us which was greatly appreciated.  The man drove us to the car rental office; he gave us a map of the town of Marsh Harbor, assuring us we could not get lost because there’s only one main highway on the island; reminded us to drive on the left side of the road, and then we were off.  Marsh Harbor is a 40 minute drive south of the Treasure Cay ferry dock.  Or it could be a lot faster if you like.  There are no speed limits apparently.  

The only highway on Great Abaco Island.

We planned our errands to optimize our time so that we would be driving back to Treasure Cay by around noon.  Carl needed a casting rod, a fishing spear and a wet suit.  National Marine had what he needed—including a large mesh bag for whatever sea critter might be so unfortunate as to be captured/speared by him.  Next, the cash machine—inside the bank lobby, guarded by a uniformed Security guard.  Then, the grocery store and this I was amazed to see—a grocery store as large as a Cub Foods or Publix in the U.S.  We were back in the car by 11:37 AM and on the road toward Treasure Cay.  We would make our lunch date by 12:25. 
Choosing the right casting rod

So, we drove.  At forty minutes we passed the turn-off to the ferry dock; we drove another ten minutes, twenty — “We should have been there by now” I muttered.  I should mention that we had no map of Great Abaco Island, other than the microscopic map that they put in those little tourists brochures.  We weren’t going to use our GPS because that would have eaten our entire Bahama data plan.  The island is long and narrow with one two-lane highway traversing the length of it.  Marsh Harbor is toward one end.  Treasure Cay appears to be in the middle, sort of, and then the island continues north through some little communities until the far end which is Cooperstown.  In between the communities are trees and shrubs and not much else.
Chickens wander freely on the islands

Going on 1:00 PM we drove through a cluster of houses, with a clinic, school, etc. and we saw the sign…..”Welcome to Cooperstown“  Cooperstown!  What was this….the ‘Twilight Zone?’  An entire resort community like Treasure Cay cannot just disappear.  Turning around, the sign said, “12 miles to Treasure Cay” pointing back the way we’d come.  Driving south now we got as far as the turn off to the ferry dock, again.  Humph!  Tried to call my friend.  No answer.  Drove in to the ferry dock and asked the two lone persons there—a woman in charge of the bar/restaurant alongside the ferry and her one customer.  “Go back out to da road.  Turn left.  Take de first left and go down dat road.  You can’t miss it.”  (I hate it when people say ‘you can’t miss it’  because obviously we could.)
Unpaved roads are worn rock and loose rock

Nevertheless, back to the road, left and again the first left, which took us down a rutted sand and rock road culminating in a few houses near the water.  We’d never seen Treasure Cay but were pretty sure it didn’t look like that.  Back to to the road….retracing our steps again.  Looking for signs.   No signs.  I began to hear the theme music from ‘The Twilight Zone’ in my head.   Asked another lone person for directions to Treasure Cay.  She looked at us rather oddly.  “Back out to da road. Turn right.  First road on your right.”  
This is NOT the sign to Treasure Cay, but it resembles the one we saw

Time warp?  Black holes in the time/space continuum? I was panicking a little now.  It was 1:15 PM.  We had to be back on the ferry at 4:30.  I was counting on a long lunch and visit with my friend and here we were driving aimlessly back and forth like a demonic pendulum on the one (ONLY one) highway on Great Abaco.  My phone rang.  It was my friend and her daughter.  Waiting patiently for us at one of the allegedly “most beautiful beaches in the world”.   “Where are you?” she said.  “Where am I?  Where are you?” I asked.  “Treasure Cay has disappeared.  Where did it go?”  Hearing panic in my voice, she came to the rescue.  She talked us through it….”back to the main road….. turn left…..go 4 miles……go past the…/…you’ll see a sandwich board that says “Schools Are Open.”  Weird, I thought.  Since when do we advertise that schools are open?

Restaurant on the beach, Treasure Cay

Suddenly, there WAS a sign for Treasure Cay on the narrow little highway.  A tiny little sign on weather-grayed board pointing down a narrower little road, previously not there—I swear! Apparently when you know where you are going, you don’t really need good signs.  Apparently Treasure Cay was not built right on the highway like all the other towns on Great Abaco.  Apparently, we had assumed otherwise.  Apparently we were idiots.  And then, there she was, my dear friend, standing on the edge of the road by the sandwich board that read “Pool Bar Open.”  Ahhhhh….
Relieved to have found Treasure Cay

And you know what?  The Treasure Cay Beach has GOT to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world!  Breathtaking!   We had three lovely hours together, the four of us.  Would have been four hours if Treasure Cay hadn’t gone missing.  
Treasure Cay, one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world.  Really it IS!

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