Shroud Cay

Passage Maker - - News & Notes -

On our re­turn to Nas­sau we de­part in the di­rec­tion of Nor­man’s Cay, with a planned ex­cur­sion to see Camp Drift­wood at Shroud Cay. Shroud Cay is home to leg­endary Camp Drift­wood, an en­camp­ment hand­built in the 1960s by a sail­ing her­mit named Ernest Scholtes.

Af­ter a dinghy ride up a wind­ing creek to a small beach, we hike up a worn path to what re­mains of the en­camp­ment. Though it’s the high­est point we’ve sum­mited dur­ing our brief ad­ven­ture, Camp Drift­wood is re­ally not very high, mea­sur­ing about 70 feet above sea level. In The Ba­hamas, though, 70 feet earns you panoramic views of th­ese wa­ters that con­tain ev­ery imag­in­able shade of blue and green. Un­til re­cently there was a tra­di­tion of leav­ing a small trea­sure be­hind in honor of the camp’s found­ing fa­ther. But park rangers scut­tled the camp a while back, so it no longer holds the quaint fas­ci­na­tion that it once did. The dinghy ride up the creek and the views from the top still make the trip well worth the ef­fort. com­ply. His de­sire was to make Nor­man’s Cay his own is­land em­pire for the car­tel’s bil­lion-dol­lar en­trée into North Amer­ica. He built a run­way for his fleet of drug-smug­gling planes, used at­tack dogs and ma­chine guns to se­cure the beaches, and hosted epic, drug-fu­eled par­ties. Le­hder was even­tu­ally ex­tra­dited and con­victed in the United States and has been serv­ing mul­ti­ple life sen­tences ever since. The skele­tal re­mains of a plane still sit in the silt off of Nor­man’s, the re­sult of a poorly taken ap­proach to the 3,200-foot airstrip.

Le­hder was hardly the first to at­tempt to find a home for il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties here. The his­tory of th­ese wa­ters is etched by law­less­ness, greed, power, and other un­sa­vory busi­ness. Cen­turies ago, the re­gion was a play­ground for 18th-cen­tury pirates—meaner ones, even, than Depp’s Cap­tain Spar­row. The pi­rate ships were light and fast enough to prey on Span­ish galleons re­turn­ing from their own plun­der­ing routes through­out the West Indies and South and Cen­tral Amer­ica. Cap­tains Wil­liam Kidd, Henry Mor­gan (yes, that Cap­tain Mor­gan), and Anne Bon­ney all staked claims to var­i­ous ports and hide­outs along th­ese skinny reefs. Law and or­der caught

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