Snake Cay

December 18

Rust basking in the beauty surrounding it.

Snake Cay was my idea. Once we replaced our main sail with our spare main, we needed to be able to fold and store the old sail. A main sail is a rather large thing and folding it in Blue Wing’s cockpit proved challenging. We were able to turn it into a more manageable bundle, but not a bundle easily stowed. Back in Florida, we inspected the sails by spreading them out on Greg’s parents’ driveway, then very carefully and deliberately folded them back up. We needed a driveway or something similar with a large and flat surface close to the water where we wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. This was Snake Cay.

Our old mainsail stretched out ready to be folded. Blue Wing waits in the background.

Snake Cay was once the headquarters of Owens-Illinois’s timbering operation in the Abacos. Eventually, when the Abacos were timbered out, the area was abandoned and the area fell into ruins. All that remains is a jagged, beat-down rusty wall that surrounds a large flat area directly adjacent to the water. Just what we needed.

Our visit to the Abacos has mostly been a utilitarian one as we wait for fair winds to take us farther south. Since we were just here earlier this year, there is little surprise or mystery. Our time in Marsh Harbor was spent doing the usual, buying groceries, loading up on rum, stopping by the coffee shop for good internet, and visiting every hardware store in town many times. But, we had never been off of Blue Wing at Snake Cay, so in addition to the folding, we did a little exploring.

Despite being abandoned, there still seems to be a lot happening on this small island. We found at least two good spots to launch small fishing boats, evidenced by the mounds of conch shells piled near them. The Cay also seems to serve as a park and ride. In the morning, a small boat picks people up and then drops them off in the evening. The ruins, of course, are what really interested me about the Cay. The juxtaposition of the rusty serrated metal against the sea and sky was right up my photographic alley.

The ruins of Snake Cay. If you look closely you will see a vehicle at the “park and ride.”
This large bird kept an eye on us as we wandered around the Cay.
The remains of the sea wall surrounding the Cay.
More rust, water, and sky.
Rusty shapes in the water.
We took Fever (our dinghy) for a ride around the anchorage. We did not see a lot of wild life, but the water was pretty.
The sun blazes as it sets behind trees at Snake Cay.


7 thoughts on “Snake Cay

  1. nice write up and pics. I must, however, correct you in that the dock belonged to Owens-Illinois Inc, which is a publicly listed company based in Toledo, Ohio. At the time, they owned a Forest products division, which switched from timber to sugar cane. They closed up shop in 1971. They had built several houses on Snake Cay, of which only one is left standing as of 2009, my last visit. I spent a year on Snake Cay as a kid. There was even a school there.

  2. I lived there as well about 1967. I attended1st grade on The Robert Fulton steam ship that had been dry docked there where you photographed the rusty pilings. It was razed when O-I (BAIL) was done with their operation. BAIL was the abbreviation for Bahamas Agricultural Industries Limited which was a legal entity created to work within the Bahamas jurisdiction.

    1. Thanks for your comment and adding to the story. How interesting to go to school on a dry-docked steamship.

  3. What a delight to stumble on this! I was a callow 29 year old when I chartered a 33′ sailboat from Abaco Bahamas Charters in Hopetown, in May of 1967, with 3 friends, Wayne, Dale and Fred. Early in our two week cruise, we sailed to Snake Cay, having no idea what to expect. I was relying entirely on “The Yachtsman’s Guide To The Bahamas”, published by Harry Kline, for information. At Snake Cay, we found the ‘Robert Fulton’, dry docked, and housing a wonderfully friendly community of folks who lived, taught and shopped at the ‘Fulton’, which served as a tiny community center. They immediately embraced the four of us, and brought us into their world. I remember a delightful night (alcohol involved) of singing Broadway show tunes with 3 or 4 locals, in someone’s apartment, late at night, aboard the ‘Fulton’. At the end of the L-shaped Owens-Illinois dock, timber was constantly being loaded onto ships, with heavy equipment moving around, which made for a less than glamorous setting, with lots of dust and noise. Nevertheless, the people were wonderful. We met several people who became close to us in a short time, teachers, clerks, etc.. After a day or so at the Snake Cay dock, we loaded beer aboard, embarked 3 lovely local ladies from the ‘Fulton’, and sailed up to Treasure Cay, which at the time (1967) was just being built. We docked in their new marina, enjoyed some time on their ‘mile long beach’, and went to a giant luau. It was one of the defining experiences of my life. I’m sadly depressed that it’s all gone, now.

  4. I lived on Snake Cay as a little girl. My dad worked with Owens Illinois sugar cane. He stayed on the Robert Fulton until our home was ready on Snake Cay. We lived in house 5 and the school was in house 1. I went to first and second grade there in the late 60s. We moved back to the States for my dad to attend seminary in 1970 before the company closed. I went to the light house on Hope Town for my field trips in first and second grade. My memories are mostly about the beautiful water and snorkeling. We would go out the back door and down the hill to the ocean. Robyn Jimmerson

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