Category: Nassau

An Amazing Weekend in Nassau

Finally, a few minutes to write about last weekend! As some of you know, last Saturday was my book signing at Logos Bookstore in Nassau. Huge thanks to Logos’ owner Ricardo Munroe and his staff for being so welcoming.

From one author to another… me with Bahamian meteorologist and author, Wayne Neely. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Neely.)

Logos has long been my favourite Bahamian bookstore. For years, every trip to Nassau has included at least one visit to Logos to check out what’s new in their Bahamian history section (and, I’ll admit, to imagine what it would be like to have my own books displayed there.) Thanks to Ricardo for helping me make that dream a reality.

And thank you to everyone who came out for the signing, which was a terrific success.

It was wonderful to see so many old friends – including a few I hadn’t seen in decades – and to meet some new ones. I also discovered a few new relatives!

Two of my favourite Bahamian authors – Rosemary Hanna and Wayne Neely – also stopped by to say hello.

In addition to being a meteorologist, Wayne is the author of a series of books about the most devastating hurricanes to hit the Bahamas.

His books, which draw on first-hand accounts as well as his professional expertise, include The Great Bahamas Hurricane of 1866The Greatest and Deadliest Hurricanes of the Caribbean and the Americas, and  The Great Bahamian Hurricanes of 1899 and 1932. They make for fascinating reading, and the latter was instrumental to me in conducting research for my own book.

THOSE WHO STAYED Arrives in Nassau June 10th: Pre-Order Your Copy Today

I’m excited to announce that we’re introducing Those Who Stayed in Nassau on Saturday, June 10 with a book signing at Logos Bookstore.

Having been a Logos customer for years, I’m beyond thrilled that my own book will now be part of their great Bahamian history section. Plus, I’m looking forward to meeting some of you Green Turtle Cay and Abaco descendants at the event and discussing our shared ancestry!

A tip for Little House by the Ferry readers — Logos is now accepting pre-orders for the book. Given the volume of inquiries we’ve had, and since I’m bringing a limited number of books with me, I’d recommend that you drop by the store as soon as you can and get your order in. 

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with Logos at (242) 394-7040 or And of course, you can always contact me directly.

I’d be grateful if you’d forward this blog post to anyone you think might be interested in Those Who Stayed, or in attending the June 10 event at Logos.

Hope to see you there!











In Abaco, Every Child Counts

If you’ve ever encountered a young man on a three-wheeled bicycle in Green Turtle Cay, you’ve likely met my friend, Eric Sawyer. He’s funny, kind and creative. And he has Down Syndrome.

Eric 7For families in the U.S., Canada and Europe who have children with special needs, life can be challenging. Fortunately though, the majority of these families have access to the information, resources, therapies and medical care necessary to help address their children’s challenges.

But imagine having a deaf child, or one with autism or Down Syndrome or cerebral palsy, and no access to information, resources or support. It’s a situation in which many Bahamian families find themselves.

Even if they could afford specialized care and resources — and many can’t — these resources simply aren’t available outside the main cities of Nassau and Freeport. And not every family is in a position to uproot and move.

Can You Help Identify Members of the Gallant Thirty?

After publishing the image below as part of my Remembrance Day post, readers wrote to me identifying two of the men pictured. I also heard from several others who know their loved ones were part of the Gallant Thirty, and would like to be able to identify them in the photo.

So, how many of these men can we name?

bahamas, nassau, gallant thirty, world war 1

According to the blog Forgotten Faces and Long Ago Places, #10 is Hershel Stanley Hall. The author says Mr. Hall was just seventeen when this photo was taken, right before the Gallant Thirty set sail.

Also, Bruce Maura sent a note to let me know that #31 is his grandfather, Bruce M. Maura.

That leaves the following men to be identified: Captain William F. Albury, Fletcher Albury, Dr R. W. Albury, George Aranha, Matthew Armbrister, Robert J. Atwill, Charles Bain, James Bain, Harold Bascombe, Charles Bethel, G. P. Bethel, Horatio C. O. Brown, Austin Dean, John Demeritte, Sidney C. Farrington, Frederick Flowers, A. Henry Fountain, George H. Johnson, Artie Kemp, James H. Knowles, Frederick C. C. Lightbourn, Origen H. Mason, Henry A. Roach, A. Vincent Roberts, James S. Taylor, William Thompson, John Williams and Reginald Wood.

If you can help put names to any of the unidentified faces, please let me know. Also, any guesses as to what’s in the box held by the men in the center of the front row?

Fish Hooks Restoration: The Living Room (Part 1)

Having discovered all sorts of treasures in the attic at Fish Hooks, we’ve been trying to use as many of them as possible in the house.

One of our larger finds was a set of living room furniture — a settee and two armchairs. Given their mid-century modern appearance, we were fairly certain they weren’t original to the house. (In fact, I’m 99% sure they were brought over to Green Turtle Cay in the 1970s from my aunt’s home in Nassau.) Still, they were part of the family and part of the history of Fish Hooks, and I wanted to save them.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, furliture restoration

My great-grandmother and her sisters, on our settee. L-R: Sarah Gates Lowe, May Gates Curry and Neva Gates Lowe.

Tom, on the other hand? Not a fan. As he pointed out, the Danish-modern design didn’t exactly fit into our planned beach house decor. And after years spent in an uninhabited house, plus at least a half-decade in the attic, the cushions were brittle, stained and essentially unusable. When he discovered that the wooden frames were riddled with termite damage, that was the end of the discussion.

Thus began our search for living room furniture. Having viewed a number of tiny condominiums during our most recent home search, we assumed we’d have a broad range of smaller, apartment-sized furnishings from which to choose. But despite hours of online research and shopping back at home in L.A., we couldn’t find anything that would fit into Fish Hooks’ cozy living room. Nothing, at least, that cost less than a small car.

Before long, that dusty, termite-eaten furniture in the attic didn’t seem quite so hopeless after all.

On our next trip to Green Turtle Cay, we got to work. Tom scraped out the termite damage and filled weakened parts of the wood with liquid epoxy. A few sections were simply too damaged to repair, but he was able to salvage enough pieces to assemble the sofa and one arm chair – which, in reality, is all we had room for.

While he primed and painted the woodwork, I ordered new foam from Knowles Upholstery in Nassau (they were super helpful in helping me choose which foam would be best, and putting my purchase on the mail boat for me.) Our friend Mandy Roberts kindly lent me a sewing machine and I made fresh new cushion covers out of some blue-grey canvas I’d brought from home.

And here are the results of our efforts… bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, furniture restoration Truthfully, between the primer, paint, foam and fabric (not to mention our time), I’m not sure we saved much money, compared with buying new. Much more importantly, though, we’re happy to have saved another piece of family history, and that we have furniture that actually fits in the house.

Calling All Bahamians (and Honourary Bahamians) in L.A.

cdn.la2015.psdops.comLess than two weeks from now, 40 or so Bahamian athletes, coaches and chaperones will arrive in Los Angeles to participate in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, taking place from July 25 – August 2.

We’re trying to get together as many Bahamians (and “honourary” Bahamians) as possible to come out and support our athletes.

Austin Green, bahamas, special olympics, world games

Bahamian athlete Austin Green, who will compete in bocce at the L.A. World Games.

The Bahamian team arrives in L.A. on July 21 and will be hosted by the City of Costa Mesa until July 24, when they’ll head to the athletes’ village. (Unfortunately, because of the number of World Games delegations arriving July 21, LAX is not permitting “welcoming committees” at the airport.)

Amal Johnson, bahamas, special olympics

Amal Johnson will compete in the 100m, 200m and the 4x400m relay.

The City of Costa Mesa has a number of fun events planned for our Bahamian delegation, including a barbeque lunch, an Angels of Anaheim baseball game and an afternoon at the Orange County Fair, where they’ll be honoured at a special ceremony.

Deron Forbes, bahamas, special olympics, world games

Deron Forbes will swim in the 25m breast stroke, 50m breast stroke and the 4x25m freestyle relay.

Comprised of athletes from Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence, Team Bahamas will compete in aquatics and athletics (at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatic Center and Loker Stadium/Cromwell Field respectively), bocce (at L.A. Convention Center), bowling (at Lucky Strike at L.A. Live), open-water swimming (at Alamitos Beach at Long Beach) and tennis (at UCLA’s Los Angeles Tennis Center).

I don’t yet have the specific dates on which our Bahamian athletes will compete, but I’ll post the schedule here as soon as possible. All World Games sporting events are free to attend.

Krystal Clarke, bahamas, special olympics, world games

Krystal Clarke will represent Team Bahamas in the 100m walk and the softball throw.

In addition to attending the Games themselves, here are some other ways you can support our Bahamian delegation:

  • The City of Costa Mesa is looking for a few volunteers to accompany the Bahamian delegation to the O.C. Fair on Thursday, July 23 — lunch and your fair ticket will be provided. To volunteer, contact Jennifer Christ at the City of Costa Mesa at
Serena Newton, bahamas, special olympics, world games

The youngest member of the Bahamas’ World Games Team, Abaco’s 11-year-old Serena Newton will compete in the 25m and 50m breaststroke and the 4x25m freestyle relay.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please plan to join us in supporting and cheering on Team Bahamas. I’ll post an update as soon as I’ve got dates and times for the various events. Hope to see you at the Games!

All photographs courtesy of Special Olympics Bahamas.

Too Soon to Say Goodbye

To date, much of this blog has centered around the history of my maternal grandmother, Lurey Curry Albury. Certainly not because of a lack of interest in the ancestry of my grandfather, Lionel Augustus Albury, but simply due to geography and circumstance.

My grandfather, Lionel Augustus Albury (1919-1980)

My grandfather, Lionel Augustus Albury (1919-1980)

Most of Ma’s family lived nearby us in Nassau, while Pa’s siblings and their families were in Abaco, and we saw them far less frequently. Many I never met.

Plus, we lost my grandfather the day after I turned 13, meaning I didn’t have much opportunity to ask him about his family history.

Which is why, shortly after launching this blog, I was thrilled to receive a long email from my Mom’s first cousin, Jack Albury, who lived in Marsh Harbour. The son of Pa’s brother Ancil, Jack shared with me his memories of the common branches of our family tree.

We corresponded by email and phone in the months that followed. Jack told me about his dad (known as “Spotty,” and a bit of an Abaco legend), whom I’m not sure I ever met, and about his grandparents (my great-grandparents) Frederick Leon Albury and Margaret Eunice Key, both of whom passed away before I was born. Jack answered my questions and queries with patience, humour and honesty.

John Campbell (Jack) Albury, 1943-2015

John Campbell (Jack) Albury MBE, 1943-2015

He recalled picking hog plums from a tree in his grandfather’s yard and spending summer vacations travelling on the Stede Bonnet with his dad, who captained that vessel. As a young boy, Jack sculled passengers to and from Bahamas Airways amphibian aircraft when they landed in the sea near Marsh Harbour.

From the beginning of our Fish Hooks journey, Jack was incredibly supportive of Tom and me. He advised us about shipping and customs, provided referrals to local suppliers and offered encouraging words when we most needed them.

One day, after trying in vain to telephone several Marsh Harbour businesses, I posted a note on Facebook asking if the phones were down. Jack emailed me, confirming that there were in fact phone problems, and asking who I was trying to reach.

I told him, and an hour or so later, I heard back. Jack had physically gone to each of the businesses and asked for their email addresses, so he could send them to me. I was truly touched by his kindness.

Not only did Jack own and operate two local businesses (Frederick’s Agency and Albury’s Trucking) but he helped establish several other companies over the years, including the Boat Harbour Marina. He was an avid supporter of community organizations, such as the Every Child Counts school, and was active for many years in the local political scene.

Seven years ago, in recognition of his business accomplishments and service to the community, Jack was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE.)


2008 Queen’s Birthday Honour Recipients. Jack is in the back row, fourth from the right.

A couple of months ago, Jack began experiencing severe neck pain. Thinking he’d pinched a nerve, he went to the States on January 2 to have it checked out. Within a few weeks, however, it became evident that the diagnosis was much more serious.

Jack and Gaye Albury, March 2012

Jack and Gaye Albury, March 2012

This past weekend, less than two months later, my cousin Jack lost his brief and painful battle.

To Jack’s wife, Gaye, their children and grandkids, his siblings and extended family, Tom and I send our love and deepest condolences. We can only imagine how difficult these past weeks have been, and we’ll be thinking of you in the days ahead.

Jack’s love for his family, friends and community was plain to see. It’s our hope that remembering this, and knowing how many lives he touched and made better, will be a source of comfort for you.

I know Jack had many more family tales to tell, and it saddens me that he’ll never have the chance. But I’m so grateful that he reached out to me, and that we got to know each other and enjoy the moments we did share.

Jack’s Home Going Service will be held this Saturday, February 14th at 3:00 pm at Grace Gym, Agape Christian School in Marsh Harbour. In lieu of flowers, his family has asked that donations be made to Every Child Counts or the Abaco Cancer Society.

Rushing into 2015 on Green Turtle Cay

Though New Year’s Eve is pretty exciting around our Pasadena neighbourhood (we live within the float marshaling area for the Tournament of Roses Parade), I’m beyond excited that we’ll be ringing in 2015 on Green Turtle Cay!

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, new years

You see, Bahamians welcome the New Year with a parade of their own. Similar to Rio’s Carnival or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Junkanoo is a traditional Bahamian festival that began in the 17th century.

Back then, slaves were given a three-day Christmas break, when they were free to leave their plantations to be with their families. They celebrated this holiday by donning masks and costumes and playing African-inspired music on crudely fashioned instruments.

Four centuries later, Junkanoo has evolved into a large, festive Bahamian holiday celebration with organized groups of performers parading (“rushing”) in elaborate, crepe paper-covered costumes, accompanied by whistles, cowbells, goatskin drums and brass instruments.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, new years

The origin of the name “Junkanoo” is unclear. Some claim it comes from the French “l’inconnu,” meaning “the unknown,” in reference to the masks worn by Junkanoo performers. Others believe it was named in honour of “John Canoe,” an African chief who reportedly demanded that slaves be given the right to a holiday break. Junkanoo 24 22

Though smaller Junkanoo parades are staged on some Bahamian out islands, the main event takes place in downtown Nassau during the early morning hours of Boxing Day (Dec 26) and New Year’s Day. Thousands of performers and musicians, representing a number of different competing groups, rush along Bay Street until daybreak. Cash prizes are awarded for best music, costumes and overall group presentation.

Truthfully, though Nassau’s Junkanoo is spectacular, I prefer the New Year’s Junkanoo parade on Green Turtle Cay. First, it takes place in the afternoon on New Year’s Day — no need to drag yourself out of bed in the middle of a damp night to fight rowdy crowds.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, new years

Second, in the daylight, you can better (and more closely) appreciate the colour and detail in the gorgeous costumes. Plus, this year, we’ll be able to enjoy Junkanoo from the comfort of our own front porch!

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, new years

I must admit, I did feel a pang or two the other night when three Rose Parade floats passed by our home en route to the tents where they’ll be decorated. But it’s been eight years since we’ve experienced Green Turtle Cay’s New Year’s Junkanoo parade, and I can’t wait!

Further Clarification of Changes to Bahamas Import/Export Rules for Dogs

Following yesterday’s post about changes to the procedures for importing/exporting dogs to/from the Bahamas, I received several emails from readers who had further questions. Since I, too, wanted more information, I contacted Dr. Godfrey Springer, Head Veterinarian for the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture. Dr. Springer was extremely helpful in providing context for, and further details about, the new measures.bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, nassau, dog, travel, distemper

First, the good news is that these new procedures are temporary, and will be in effect only until the current distemper outbreak in Nassau has been controlled. Dr. Springer says these sorts of outbreaks happen every so often and though it’s impossible to predict how long the current one will last, I get the sense that we’re looking at months, as opposed to years.

According to Dr. Springer, the new measures are intended to prevent further spread of the deadly disease and to protect dog owners returning home from the Bahamas.

Foreign officials are aware of the current distemper outbreak in the country, he says, as well as the fact that several dogs recently transported from the Bahamas to the U.S. and Canada later developed — and died from — distemper.

Although officially, the distemper outbreak is confined to Nassau, the fact that you are arriving from anywhere in the Bahamas is a huge red flag for foreign customs and immigration officials. Without a current health certificate, your dog may be denied entry at your final destination.

Dr. Springer says he’s willing to work with travelers visiting Bahamian islands on which there is no veterinarian to ensure they can obtain the necessary documentation.  Dog owners may want to get together and split the cost of flying him in from Nassau for the day to examine their pets and provide health certificates. (For your reference, round-trip tickets from Nassau to the out islands cost roughly $100-$140.)

Or, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to send Dr. Springer a video of your dog, along with your original health certificate from your home vet. Based on this information, plus a discussion with you about the dog’s activities while in the Bahamas, he may, at his discretion, provide a health certificate without a face-to-face meeting.

Ultimately, it sounds like obtaining a Bahamian health certificate for your dog before leaving the Bahamas is voluntary. Dr. Springer says you can certainly leave the country without one, but he stresses that he has no control or influence over the actions of foreign officials, and that there’s a chance your dog will not be granted entry into your destination country.

Also, knowing the Bahamas as I do, it’s entirely possible that, upon departure, you’ll encounter local airline or airport employees who believe that having a Bahamian health certificate is mandatory and may refuse you boarding without one. (I don’t know about you, but I think travel is plenty stressful enough without all this added worry.)

According to Dr. Springer, these measures will be in effect for at least the next few months. If you’re not scheduled to travel to the Bahamas until the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015, it may be worth checking with him closer to your travel date to find out whether the new procedures are still in place.

For more information, contact Dr. Springer’s office at (242) 397-7450.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, travel, pet, kool karts

Fire Engine: Bahamian Comfort Food

Among my favourite Bahamian comfort foods is a dish called Fire Engine, also known as the Stede Bonnet breakfast.

Abaco Bahamas Mailboat Stede Bonnet

M/V Stede Bonnet
Photo credit:

The Stede Bonnet was a freight boat that transported mail, cargo and passengers between Nassau and Abaco for nearly 30 years. It’s said that this dish was prepared each morning to feed passengers on the vessel.

When it comes to the origin of the name Fire Engine, I’ve yet to receive a definitive explanation. The most commonly cited theory is that some Bahamian cooks add so much pepper to the dish that it feels like your mouth is on fire. If anyone knows for sure, please drop me a note.

However it got its name, I’ve been looking for a Fire Engine recipe for ages, so I was happy to find one in Healthier Bahamian Cuisine. Thanks to the book’s authors, Marguerite Sawyer Mendelson and Marie Sawyer Ochs for allowing me to share it with you.

Stede Bonnet Breakfast (Fire Engine)

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cans (12 ounces each) corned beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 teaspoon thyme
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a large frying pan and cook over medium-low heat 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Yield: 6 servings.

bahamas, cuisine, caribbean, fire engine, corned beef, stede bonnet

Stede Bonnet Breakfast (aka Fire Engine)

Though traditionally served over grits, Fire Engine can also be served over white or brown rice.

The above recipe yields a milder-flavoured dish, which I prefer. If, on the other hand, you like more heat, add diced hot pepper or hot sauce to taste while cooking. And if you’re trying to limit your salt intake, it’s worth checking labels, since sodium levels vary between corned beef brands.

Rest in Peace, Miss Shirley

“You see all them?” Shirley Roberts gestured toward the dozens of cats lazing outside her front gate. “Only two are mine.”

“Then why do you feed all of them?” I asked.

“Well,” she scattered a fistful of kibble on the ground. “They look so much alike, I can’t tell which ones belong to me. And I can’t let the rest go hungry.”

Green Turtle Cay lost one of its most intriguing characters yesterday. Shirley Roberts (affectionately known as “Shell Hut” Shirley, to differentiate her from the other Shirley Roberts in town) passed away unexpectedly in Nassau.

Abaco, Bahamas, Green Turtle Cay, Shirley Roberts, Stray Cats

Sadly, some local folks — particularly the younger generation – only knew Shirley in her later years, when her mind had begun to wander and it was sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction in her stories. But Shirley Roberts was feisty and independent, a woman of many talents who lived a remarkable life.

In addition to being a shrewd businesswoman, Shirley was the first female commercial pilot in the Bahamas. For years, she flew a twin-engine charter plane, transporting tourists, local residents, dignitaries and sick people in need of emergency medical care. Everyone who flew with Shirley recalls her amazing aviation abilities, especially her smooth and gentle landings.

And she didn’t just pilot planes. My cousin, Alton Lowe, tells me that during the years she lived in Nassau, Shirley was part-owner of a private yacht, which she captained singlehandedly.

Alton says Shirley was also musically inclined, a talented singer who often participated in the charming New Plymouth tradition of pre-dawn caroling in the weeks before Christmas.

From as far back as I can remember, Shirley owned The Shell Hut, one of Green Turtle Cay’s original gift shops. In recent years, however, she opened the store less often. Some weeks, she didn’t go in at all. As the souvenirs in her shop window grew dusty and faded, so did her memory. And Shirley became known as the lady with the cats.

Many afternoons, I’d see her at one of the local grocery stores, buying cat food. A local resident once told me he’d counted thirty-eight cats gathered on Shirley’s wall and around her gate, awaiting her return.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, shirley roberts, stray cats, potcatsbahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, potcats, stray catsAnd it wasn’t just felines who benefited — Shirley made sure the local pigeons and gulls got their share, too.

Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas, Shirley Roberts, Pigeons

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, ” Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character.” I think that’s absolutely true. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they treat animals. And as Alton said of Shirley, “If she had to, she would give up her own food to be able to feed those cats.”

Shell Hut Shirley was spirited, generous and kind. Until her last days on the cay, she remained sprightly and outgoing, caring for the birds and cats and regaling tourists with her colourful tales. Green Turtle Cay will be a shade less bright without her.

Canine Distemper Outbreak in Nassau

The Veterinary Medical Association of the Bahamas has issued an advisory about a severe outbreak of canine distemper in Nassau, Bahamas.

bahamas, potcake, dog

Healthy Bahamian potcake at a Marsh Harbour spay/neuter clinic.

If you plan to bring your dog to the Bahamas in the near future, you may want to bypass Nassau altogether.

If you must bring your pet to Nassau, or if you’re currently there, be sure your dog is properly vaccinated, and adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Do not transport dogs of any age from Nassau to other Bahamian islands, as it appears that the latter remain distemper-free.
  • Keep dogs on your property or vessel. Limit walks and avoid contact with other dogs for at least the next three weeks.
  • Use a mix of 30 parts water to 1 part bleach to disinfect surfaces, shoes, feet, etc.

The good news is that, in warm climates and sunlight, the distemper virus is killed off within a few hours. During that time, however, it’s highly contagious.

More than half of all distemper cases are fatal and there is no known cure.  According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), distemper is passed from dog to dog through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. Dogs can also contract distemper by sharing food and water bowls, or by being nearby coughing and sneezing dogs. Early signs of distemper include sneezing, coughing, running eyes or nose, fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite.

The Veterinary Medical Association of the Bahamas says the disease is NOT a risk to humans or cats.

For more information, or if you suspect your dog may be infected, contact a local vet or the Bahamas Humane Society. Authorities ask that, to avoid infecting other animals, you do not bring the animal into veterinary waiting rooms without advance arrangements.


ASPCA Pet Care – About Distemper

About Canine Distemper – Pet MD

A Successful First Day at the Abaco Spay/Neuter Clinic

voluneersPerhaps I shouldn’t wonder, given the potcake’s gentle nature, but most of the two dozen or so dogs crated in the front yard of Marsh Harbour’s Island Veterinary Clinic seemed surprisingly calm. Many adult dogs watched the volunteers around them with apparent interest. Six recently rescued five-week old pups napped in tangled piles, limbs splayed. A seventh slept, curled up in an empty food bowl.

dogs 5Some of these dogs (and cats) had been brought by their owners to the free spay/neuter clinic. Volunteers had rounded up others from areas with large populations of strays.

For many animals, it was likely their first time being crated — possibly even their first time at a vet’s office. But, peacefully and patiently, they waited.

Inside the clinic, the mood was much more energetic. Twenty or so volunteers from a variety of rescue organizations including Royal Potcake Rescue USA, BAARK, the Abaco Shelter and the Hope Town Humane Society, and three veterinarians — Dr. Bailey from Marsh Harbour, Dr. Dorsett from Nassau and Dr. Wildgoose from Freeport — ran an impressive and efficient operation.

The dogs and cats on the front lawn were recent arrivals, each of whom had been assigned a number. Corresponding paperwork was completed and attached to each crate.

brownie 2

While awaiting sedation, Brownie gets love from a young volunteer

One at a time, the animals were brought to a makeshift sedation area in the clinic’s front office. Once the anesthetic had taken effect, each was carried into one of three operating rooms.

Derrick Bailey

Dr. Bailey performs surgery as two volunteer assistants look on

Post-surgery, potcakes and potcats were brought to the recovery area, where each was assigned a volunteer. Volunteers stayed with the animals, gave them TLC and ensured there were no complications as the sedation wore off.

Volunteers tend to animals post-operation

Once awake, the still-groggy animals snoozed in crates until their owners picked them up, or until they could be released back into their neighbourhoods.dogs from sandy point

Homeless dogs – including that adorable litter of five-week-old pups — will be cared for until new homes can be found. If you’d like to adopt a potcake, contact Royal Potcake Rescue or Abaco Shelter.

Rescued by clinic volunteers, these puppies will be given medical attention and put up for adoption.

Eighty-two dogs and cats were spayed and neutered on Friday. At that rate, the clinic will likely exceed its goal of 200 animals treated over the three-day event. The clinic continues until mid-day on Sunday, April 27.

Green Turtle Cay 101: Getting Here

This is the second installment in the Green Turtle Cay 101 series. The first post can be found here: Green Turtle Cay 101: An Introduction.

Bahamas Map

The first thing you need to know about getting to Green Turtle Cay is that it takes a bit more planning than traveling to a major tourist center. The second thing you should know is that the extra effort is so worthwhile.

To get to Green Turtle Cay, you’ll need to travel to the Bahamian island of Abaco. From there, you’ll take a small ferry from Treasure Cay (which, despite its name, is actually located on the Abaco mainland) to Green Turtle Cay.

…Arriving By Airplane

Most visitors to Green Turtle Cay arrive by commercial airline. Direct flights to Abaco are available from a number of Florida cities, including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Orlando. Depending on your departure city, the flight from Florida takes roughly an hour. You can also fly to Abaco from the Bahamian capital of Nassau. This trip takes a little over 30 minutes.


There are two airports on the Abaco mainland. The first, at Treasure Cay (airport code TCB), is super convenient – it’s just a five-minute taxi ride from the Green Turtle Cay ferry dock. However, it’s relatively small, and the selection of flights in and out is limited. Airlines that currently fly into TCB include Silver Airways (from Ft. Lauderdale) and Bahamasair (from Nassau.)

Abaco Map copy

The second Abaco airport, in Marsh Harbour (airport code MHH), is about a 45-minute taxi ride away from the Green Turtle Cay ferry dock. However, many more flights arrive into Marsh Harbour each week, so you’ll have a greater range of travel options from which to choose.

Airlines that fly into Marsh Harbour include American Eagle (from Miami), Silver Airways (from Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville) and Bahamasair (from Nassau).  A number of smaller charter airlines, including Island Wings, Abaco Air, Airgate, Air Share Unlimited, Craig Air, Baer AirCherokee Aviation and Bahamas Express, also service MHH.

Whether you fly into TCB or MHH, there will be taxis waiting to meet the flight. From the Treasure Cay airport to the Green Turtle Cay ferry dock, it’s a 5-minute ride and about $15. From Marsh Harbour, budget 30-45 minutes and $80 or so, one way. Most taxis are mini-van type vehicles that comfortably seat at least four adults plus luggage.


A fleet of half-a-dozen or so ferries shuttle passengers between
the Abaco mainland and Green Turtle Cay.

A few practical tips for planning air travel to Abaco:

  • As is common in the tropics, Bahamian weather can be unpredictable, which can lead to flight delays. If you’ve got connections to make, it’s a good idea to schedule a bit of extra time between flights.
  • If your trip home from Abaco to the U.S. takes you through Nassau, you can clear American Customs and Immigration there. If you fly straight to the U.S. from Abaco, however, you’ll need to clear Customs and Immigration at your first point of entry. Again, if you’ve got a connection to make, consider scheduling extra time between flights.
  • Not all routes to/from Abaco are serviced every day, so it helps if you can be flexible when it comes to travel days.
  • If you have questions or need advice about getting to Abaco or the Abaco Cays, check out the Abaco Forum. Forum members routinely travel all sorts of routes (air and sea) to Abaco, and they’re happy to share experiences and offer suggestions.

…Arriving by Private Vessel 

Given that Abaco and its surrounding cays offer some of the most spectacular boating waters in the world, it’s not surprising that so many visitors arrive by sea. If you’re entering the Bahamas aboard a private vessel, you’ll need to clear customs and immigration. To do this, you’ll need to go to one of the official ports of entry, and present the following:

  1. A completed Bahamas Customs Clearance Form
  2. One Bahamas Immigration Card per person on board
  3. Proof of Citizenship (i.e., passport) for each person aboard

Though Green Turtle Cay isn’t shown on the official “ports of entry” list, I understand you can clear customs and immigration here. The Customs office is in the pink government building on Parliament Street in town. Call in advance (242-365-4077) to check on their hours. If you arrive late in the day, you can clear the next morning.

For detailed guidelines, see the Entering and Exiting by Boat page on the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism’s website.

If you’re arriving by sea or plan to rent a boat during your stay in Green Turtle Cay, Steve Dodge’s book, The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Bahamas is considered a vital resource by visitors who spend time on the local waters. The guide provides regularly updated maps and charts, information about the various marinas and ports, a directory of local services, information about tides and more. (For the record, I’m not affiliated with this publication in any way – I’m just one of its many fans.)

…Arriving by Ferry 

Sea LinkIn most cases, these are less practical options, but they’re worth mentioning.

During the summer months, a fast ferry (which accommodates vehicles as well as walk-on passengers) travels weekly from Nassau to Sandy Point, at the southwestern tip of Abaco. Unfortunately, there are no car rentals in Sandy Point, and the taxi fare from there to Treasure Cay will run you well over $150. Having said that, if you have access to a vehicle or plan to rent a car in Nassau, this option may make sense. The trip takes about six hours. For more information, visit Bahamas Fast Ferry.

A preferred alternative for Abaco lovers who don’t like to fly, Pinder’s Ferry provides twice-daily service between Grand Bahama (the Bahamian island immediately west of Abaco) and Crown Haven, at the north end of Abaco. You can cruise aboard the Bahamas Express from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Bahama, then take a bus to the Pinder’s Ferry dock. Rental cars are available once you arrive in Crown Haven. For more information about this route, contact Pinder’s Ferry at 242-365-2356.

…Arriving by Mailboat


The M/V Legend sails weekly between Nassau, the Abaco mainland and Green Turtle Cay.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also travel between Nassau and Green Turtle Cay by mailboat. For more information, click here or contact Dean’s Shipping at (242) 367-2653, (242) 394-0245 or

Next up: Green Turtle Cay 101: Staying Here



A Hard but Happy Childhood

Lurey Merlee (Curry) Albury

My grandmother, Lurey Merlee Curry, was the oldest of Pa Herman and Ma May’s four daughters. She was born in Green Turtle Cay in 1919 and lived there until moving to Nassau at age 17.

Tomorrow (December 16) would have been her 94th birthday.

Even in her later years, my grandmother’s memories of Green Turtle Cay remained vivid. “I can remember more about what happened to me as a child than I can remember day-to-day,” she would say.

And so, whenever I visited, we’d sit together in her front porch and, over the creak-creak of her gliding rocker, she would tell me about life “over home.”

Lurey Curry c 1933

Lurey Curry circa 1933

More often than not, her stories were about the adversities her family faced – the sudden death of her six-year-old younger sister, Mirabelle, the loss of their family home in the 1932 hurricane, the poverty they endured during the Great Depression. “They were hard times,” she would say. “But people were happier. We were happy.”

And indeed, despite their many hardships, the love between my grandmother and her family and the simple pleasures they derived from everyday life were always evident in her stories. In honour of her birthday, I wanted to share two of her many Green Turtle Cay memories.

The Cane Mill

“When we were children, there was a cane mill at The Bluff. On the days that Daddy went to The Bluff to cut canes, we wouldn’t go to school. We would go with him to make the syrup. The boat would be loaded down with sugar canes. They were so soft and had long joints. Children used to come to buy them.

 You’d have to push the mill around and around. Someone had a horse that would pull the mill. Mama used to bake something for us to carry down there to eat. If she had coconut, she’d bake coconut bread.

 We used to chew on the sugar cane and drink the cane juice, which made us crave something salty. So when we got home, we would fish on the rocks for those yellow grunts. Mama would cook sweet potatoes and stew the grunts for us under the wild dilly tree where she used to cook.” 

 The Watermelon Farm

“You know in Black Sound, where you go up in and meet mangroves? Daddy used to grow watermelons on the north side of that harbour.

He had two boats. One with a well, that he went fishing in, and another small one.

Just about every Saturday afternoon when watermelons were in season, when he got through cleaning out the boat with the well and he chopped up fat pine – that’s what we used to start a fire in the wood stove outside – he would say, “Lurey, you want to go over to Black Sound? Let us go see if any watermelons are ripe.”

We would go in the small boat and coming back, we would sail. Daddy would cut up a watermelon and I would sit up on the bow and dip it in the salt water and eat it.

 Daddy sold the watermelons when he could, when anybody wanted one. Sometimes, the young boys would buy one and go out on the dock and cut it up.

 When I came to Nassau, the Priscilla (the mail boat) used to run every two weeks from over home. Daddy would always save the best watermelon to send down here to me. Sometimes, though, the rats would eat them on the trip. So I told him, ‘Daddy, keep them and sell them.’”

Though we lost my grandmother almost four years ago, not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and her stories of Green Turtle Cay. I hope she’d be happy to know that Tom and I are restoring the little house where she and her family shared so many sweet memories.

My grandmother and me

My grandmother, Lurey (Curry) Albury and me

Recognize Anyone?

Here are a few more photos from the albums of my grandmother, Lurey (Curry) Albury and my uncle, Cuthbert Albury. I suspect most of these were taken in Abaco, but aside from that, I know very little about them. I’ve included whatever information I have in the captions below each photograph. If you can help identify any of these people or scenes, please post a comment below, or email me.

If I had to guess, I’d say this was Cherokee Sound during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the early 1940s.
Anyone know for sure?

This group looks like the staff of a hotel, perhaps. I’m fairly certain that the man seated in the front row third from left
is my uncle, Cuthbert Albury, of Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

I know this is the wedding of Dorothy Albury, daughter of Bissell and Jean Albury, but I don’t know who any of the guests are.
Anyone know?

My cousin, Evan Lowe, and I wonder if this could be my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Wesley (“Pa Wes”) Curry, of Green Turtle Cay….?

Related posts: Putting Names to Faces, Faces in Need of Names , (More) Faces in Need of Names, We’re Getting There

From My Grandmother's Kitchen: Banana Pudding

My grandmother and me, 2005

My grandmother, Lurey (Curry) Albury was a wonderful and generous cook. Her fried chicken, stewed whelks, guava duff and banana pudding were among my favourites, and there was always enough for her children and grandchildren.

Like many Bahamians, though, my grandmother cooked strictly by taste and feel, which made obtaining her recipes a challenge.

At first, I’d ask her to prepare a dish while I watched, jotting notes and estimating ingredient quantities. This was how I learned to dress and bake a ham, and make potato salad, Bahamian pumpkin pie, tuna salad and guava duff.

By the time we got around to banana pudding, however, my grandmother was in her late 80s and rarely cooked. So, at the breakfast table one morning, she dictated the recipe, guessing at the quantities for each ingredient.

As I scribbled notes, she told me she’d been making this banana pudding for more than 50 years (no wonder she didn’t need a recipe!)

When she and my grandfather were first married, she said, they didn’t have much money, and sugar was being rationed due to WWII. At the time, however, my grandfather worked on the Anne Bonny, a freight boat that transported bananas from Haiti to Miami. When he returned from a trip, he’d bring bananas and a sack of sugar, and my grandmother would bake banana pudding.

ingr 5Sadly, by the time I got around to using her banana pudding recipe, my grandmother had passed away. I followed the notes she had dictated, but the flavour wasn’t quite right and the texture was way off.

I searched my Bahamian cookbooks and scoured the Internet for a similar recipe, but all the banana pudding recipes I came across were in fact custards or just glorified baked bananas. None sounded similar to my grandmother’s sweet, sticky, bread-pudding-like treat.

Determined to get it right, I revisited her recipe. I added more flour and less liquid, and vice versa. I baked the pudding at 325F, and then 350F. I tried baking it for an hour, and then an hour and a half.

Since Bahamian cooks swear that Canadian flour is better for baking than American flour, I ignored the exasperated eye-rolling of a certain other member of our household and schlepped six pounds of Robin Hood flour home from Green Turtle Cay.

More than a year and close to a dozen tries later, I think I’ve got it nearly perfect. The texture isn’t quite the same as my grandmother’s banana pudding, (maybe because I’m using a different type of banana?) but the taste is spot on.

If you’d like to try it for yourself, here’s the (slightly amended) recipe.

Lurey Albury’s Banana Pudding

  •     11 or so medium-sized, very ripe bananas
  •     ½ c. evaporated milk
  •     1 ¼ c. brown sugar (you can use a little less if the bananas are very ripe)
  •     1 – 1 ¼ c flour
  •     2 beaten eggs
  •     1 tbsp melted butter
  •     1 tsp vanilla (this wasn’t in the original recipe, but I added it.)

Mash bananas thoroughly. Stir in all other ingredients. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish and bake at 325 for 1 ½ hours, or until well-browned. Let cool completely (even overnight) before cutting.

If you can adhere to that last instruction, you’re a better person than me.

Pudding 4


(More) Faces in Need of Names

This is the second post in a series. You’ll find part one here: Faces in Need of Names

Photo #1 - Possibly in Cherokee Sound during 1942 visit of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

Photo #1 – Unknown Girls (Possibly in Cherokee Sound during 1942 visit of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor)

A giant thank you to everyone who sent comments and emails about the collection of photos I posted earlier this week. I’ve received some promising leads and hope to be able to identify many of the faces pictured. Once identities are confirmed, I’ll post an update.

In the meantime, here’s a second batch of photos of unknown people. All I know about these images is that they were likely taken in the Bahamas (Abaco or Nassau) between the 1930s and the 1950s. For ease of reference, all images are numbered (see captions.)

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