Photos Wanted for Museum Exhibit

Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum has put out a call for historic photographs and artifacts to be featured in their upcoming exhibit, Men of the Sea.

Abaco Bahamas Mailboat Stede Bonnet

M/V Stede Bonnet
Photo credit: http://www.oldbahamas.com

The museum is looking for images of Abaconians (at that time, they were usually men) who made their livings at sea by wrecking, fishing, sponging, crawfishing, sharking, shipping and mail delivery, serving as sea captains or crew members on a vessel, etc. Also of interest are related items such as compasses, sextants, documents, etc.

Lionel Augustus Albury

My grandfather, Lionel Albury

My own family’s men of the sea included my grandfather, Lionel Albury, who worked for a time as a crew member on the vessel Anne Bonny, shipping bananas from Haiti to Cuba.

His brother, Ancil (“Spotty”) Albury, captained the Stede Bonnet, which transported mail and supplies between Nassau and Abaco.

And my great-grandfather, Herman Curry (who built Fish Hooks), supported his family by fishing and selling his catch to mailboat crews and the logging camp at Norman’s Castle on the Abaco mainland.

My grandmother spoke often of Pa Herman’s experiences on the sea.

Daddy had a smaller boat at first, then he got a bigger one with a well in it. One day he came in with his boat loaded down with amberjacks. Another day he came with the biggest loggerhead you ever saw tied up beside his boat.

Back then, fish was a ha’penny a pound, about three cents. Amberjacks were four cents. When the mailboat Priscilla was coming, Daddy would get up and clean a dollar’s worth of fish, and that was as much as he could carry in both hands.

He would go fishing seven miles from home. He would drop Mama at Munjack Cay to work at the farm and he would go out to the reef. It was dangerous. If anything happened to him in that little dinghy, Mama would never know.

He sunk a boat once. After that, Virgie (her sister, Virginia) would get to the upstairs window and cry when he left. She could see his boat when he went up around the Bluff. He’d have just a little piece of sail up. He took chances. He had to.”

I know a lot of folks who read this blog have Abaconian ancestors who were sea captains, fishermen, spongers, crawfishermen or mariners of one sort or another. And I suspect that your family attics or albums contain historic photographs or other items that would be ideal for this exhibit.

If you have images or artifacts you’d like to donate or loan to the Men of the Sea exhibit, drop me a note or call the Albert Lowe Museum at (242) 365-4094.

Captain Billy Keeps Watch

Wally Davies, who has owned the New Plymouth Inn since the 1970s, has seen thousands of visitors come and go over the years. One guest, however, has apparently taken up permanent residence.

The building that houses the New Plymouth Inn was constructed nearly 200 years ago as a home for sea captain (and rumoured pirate) William Gustavus (Captain Billy) Roberts. Captain Billy operated a store at street level, and his family resided on the house’s upper floors.

new plymouth inn reduced

Capt. Billy Roberts’ home/general store (left foreground). Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

Local lore says that Captain Billy stashed a large quantity of gold and other valuables somewhere on the property. As he grew older, his mind began to wander and he became convinced that those around him were trying to poison him. Unwilling to abandon his treasure, he ultimately starved to death.

In the 1950s, Captain Billy’s home was sold and converted into the New Plymouth Inn. Since then, many guests have stayed at the Inn, and more than a few have found it hard to tear themselves away at the end of their visits.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, new plymouth inn, captain billy roberts

The New Plymouth Inn, shortly after opening.

Evidently, Captain Billy had similar qualms. According to Wally and other island residents, a number of New Plymouth Inn guests over the decades have reported being awakened in the night to find a man matching Captain Billy’s description, sitting beside the bed in a rocking chair. Wally says all the reported sightings occurred in the same guest room, and all were reported by women.

After operating the New Plymouth Inn for 40 years, Wally’s ready to retire. He’s listed the gorgeous Colonial inn – a registered historic landmark on an entire quarter-acre block in the heart of New Plymouth — for sale.

If you’ve ever dreamed of operating an inn in paradise, here’s your chance. Just know that Captain Billy likely won’t be checking out any time soon. And if you locate his treasure, I expect a finder’s fee.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, new plymouth inn, captain billy roberts

The New Plymouth Inn today (background).

A Final Farewell to the Festive Season

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fireworks, new yearsAfter a month of holiday celebrations, including the Festival of Lights, Junkanoo and the appearance of Bunce, Green Turtle Cay said goodbye to 2014 and welcomed 2105 with a fireworks show, presented by the GTC Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.

It was a beautiful display — and the perfect opportunity to try out the fireworks setting on my new camera.

 

The Wild Man of Green Turtle Cay

bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, bunce, junkanooIt’s a unique Green Turtle Cay custom that dates back more than a hundred years.

At the head of the island’s vibrant New Year’s Junkanoo parade would be a canvas-draped wheelbarrow. Hidden beneath the tarp was “Bunce”, ostensibly a wild man caught in the pine forests of the Abaco mainland.

Those pushing the wheelbarrow would stop in front of a house and pass around a hat, taking up a collection for Bunce to get out and dance. They told tall tales about the capture of this violent beast and threatened that, should enough money not be contributed, they would set him loose within the settlement.

When enough money had been collected, the wildly costumed Bunce would jump from the wheelbarrow, lunging fiercely toward local children and amusing the crowd with his antics. Eventually, he was loaded back into the wheelbarrow, covered up and carted to another house, where the performance would be repeated.

At this year’s Junkanoo, Bunce’s appearance was somewhat streamlined. There was no wheelbarrow and no hat passed. But the effect was the same. As Bunce sprung from his hiding place, the little ones ran shrieking as the adults laughed and cheered.

Thanks to the Albert Lowe Museum for their assistance with this piece.

GTC New Year’s Junkanoo in Pictures

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanooWhile Tom was busy shooting video of the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Rush, I was trying out my Christmas gift — a new camera. Here are some of the results:

Related stories:  VIDEO: GTC Slammers Usher in 2015, Rushing into 2015 in Green Turtle Cay, We Need More Cowbell, Island Roots Heritage Festival 2014, Island Roots Festival: Celebrating All Things Abaco, Our Junkanoo Wedding

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