Great Inagua is worth its salt
THE SOUTHERNMOST ISLAND OF THE BAHAMAS, Great Inagua, and its smaller neighbor Little Inagua lie just 50 miles from the eastern tip of Cuba and even closer to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Great Inagua is the third-largest island in The Bahamas, with a hot climate that’s drier than the more northerly islands. This is a forbidding place for small boats since it is mostly surrounded by reef and drops off shockingly fast to the deep-blue ocean depths. There are no marinas here, just an open roadstead at Matthew Town, the only settlement on the Inaguas, and a few spots enclosed by reef but with difficult entrances. Not surprisingly, it is rarely visited by cruising boats. But because it falls close along the pathway to and from the Caribbean, it often serves as a stopover for fuel, rest and limited provisions.
Little Inagua is uninhabited, while Great Inagua has a population of about 1,000 and is largely focused on salt production, as it has been for hundreds of years. Bermudians settled here in 1803, coming via the Turks and Caicos, and began the first commercial salt production, selling to passing ships. Nearly all of the residents live in Matthew Town, and the Morton Salt Company has a huge operation here exporting more than a million tons per year. High mounds of pure, white salt greet the visitor. Morton Salt is the successor to Henagua Salt Pond Company, formed in 1848 and said to be the first formal corporation in The Bahamas. Although this is not a tourist destination in any way, the commercial operation means there are more amenities than at many of the other Out Islands, making it useful as a stop-off in settled weather. Customs and immigration are located at the airport but will provide check-in at the Matthew Town basin.
Upcoming Bahamian Events:
MARS BAY CONCH FEST
At another off-the-beaten-path location, South Andros hosts the annual Mars Bay Conch Fest October 13-15. The weekend will include conch cracking, skinning and eating contests and competitions for the best conch salad and fastest conch salad maker. A Junkanoo Rush-out and live music events are also popular. For more information, call
(242) 357-2150 or (242) 369-5019 or visit bahamas.com/event/mars-bay-conch-fest.
BACK TO CAT ISLAND FESTIVAL
The same weekend, Cat Island will hold its Back to Cat Island Festival at New Bight Park. This annual homecoming celebration for former and current residents of Cat Island features a weekend of activities, including gospel concerts, live performances by Bahamian recording artists, a Junkanoo Rush-out, family fun and games, and local food and drinks on sale. Contact Ezra Russell at (242) 342-3014 or visit bahamas.com/event/back-cat-island-festival.
ABACO OPEN WATER SWIM RACE
The Abaco Open Water Swim Race will be held in Marsh Harbour on Sunday, October 8th, starting at 8AM. This 5K race for professional and amateur swimmers is a charity event hosted each year by the Abaco Swim Club. The racecourse is located in the waterway near Albury’s Ferry Dock. Participants can also compete in paddleboard and kayak challenges. The post-race party will include music, food, drinks, and the awards ceremony. bahamas.com/event/abaco-open-water-swim-race
NAVIGATION NEWS During his Parliamentary budget speech, the Hon. Frankie Campbell, MP, minister of transport and local government, mentioned that his ministry will improve the country’s aids-to-navigation (ATONS) for safer boating in The Bahamas.
By Rex Noel, Southern Boating September 2017
PHOTOS: BAHAMAS TOURISM, ADOBE STOCK/HARLEQUIN9, YITING SHEN, WIKIPEDIA/MARK A. WILSON