PILOT­HOUSE

Passage Maker - - Contents - Jonathan Cooper

One tourist sideshow in the Ex­u­mas is in the ap­pro­pri­ately named Bay of Pigs, a post­card-per­fect an­chor­age on the lee side of Big Ma­jors Spot. Le­gend has it, a cou­ple from nearby Staniel Cay de­liv­ered a pair of pigs to this loosely veg­e­tated shore­line, and the Adam and Eve of Ba­hamian swine did not dis­ap­point. The fam­ily has grown.

“Oh my god, you can swim with pigs!” my en­vi­ous fam­ily said to me as I boarded my flight to Nas­sau. Not nor­mally a fan of farm an­i­mals, I, too, was ex­cited, for th­ese weren’t pigs rol­lick­ing in mud—or, you know, shit. They were sun­bathers, swim­ming in turquoise wa­ter and feed­ing on scraps from the hands of count­less vis­i­tors. Harm­less fun, I thought.

So, when we dropped an­chor from our Moor­ings 51 pow­er­cat and my col­leagues grabbed their gear and a bowl of left­overs saved for this ex­act pur­pose, I joined them ea­gerly as we set out for shal­low wa­ter. Mov­ing at a slow put­ter to­wards the shore, I be­came in­creas­ingly alarmed by the enor­mity of some of the res­i­dents, how­ever. Upon reach­ing the beach we were met by the largest of its in­hab­i­tants, who looked like she could eat our en­tire bowl of scraps, plus our land­ing party, and quite pos­si­bly the in­flat­able.

Un­daunted by her size, ship­mate and dinghy cap­tain Peter Swan­son opened the Tup­per­ware con­tainer, and that’s when the party started. The sow took every­thing tossed her way, and when the feed­ing didn’t come fast enough, she stood on her hind legs and set her front hooves on top of our dinghy’s port­side tube—snout raised, mouth agape—with a (per­haps not so shock­ing) lack of man­ners. And if her size and de­meanor weren’t con­cern­ing enough, the down­right panic-in­duc­ing part was that she looked keen on board­ing our dinghy from the wa­ter (which is hard enough to do with hu­man limbs, but some­thing told me she’d have no prob­lem mak­ing the climb).

Tak­ing the self­ish route, I rea­soned that since I had no food, she wouldn’t be in­ter­ested in me. I jumped ship. But our new friend sniffed out the cow­ard, and set af­ter me. Im­me­di­ately re­al­iz­ing my mis­take, I started to run in the waist-deep wa­ter. But the pig had a head start and a goal in mind. Just when I thought I was in the clear, I felt a pig­sized chomp on the star­board side of my der­rière, elic­it­ing from me a squeal not un­like the sound a pig would make, just not the joy­ful kind.

In the bar at Staniel Cay that night—mas­sag­ing my wound and opt­ing off of the barstool—we learned from lo­cals that this pig has a name: Big Momma. And worse yet, there was once a sign up on the beach warn­ing vis­i­tors to be wary of the se­rial biter. Moral of the story? You reap what you sow.

n > More to come: There’s much more to the Ex­u­mas than bit­ing pigs, so stay tuned for my up­com­ing fea­ture story on Ba­hamian is­land hop­ping.

Jonathan Cooper Editor-In-Chief editor@pas­sage­maker.com

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