Getting Chummy With Sand Sharks in the Abaco Islands

04 20, 2012

Metro Newspapers

Radio Abaco is the lone station on this sun-drenched northwestern swath of the Bahamian archipelago with reception as gin clear as the invitingly warm waters.

The hosts are having a spirited debate on the merits of sweethearting, the colloquial expression for the practice of married men keeping another woman on the side.

“You’re not having an affair, you have a sweetheart,” explains my guide Ambrose. “It’s infamous here. Men go to work and when they get paid they divvy up what is for their wife and family and to take care of the bills and such and then what is for the sweetheart, so he has two homes.”

The philandering food for thought creates a people-watching guessing game ‘wife or sweetheart’ while ferrying to Elbow Cay to visit Abaco’s candy-striped lighthouse and touring Hope Town, a charming outpost settled by British loyalists following the American Revolution. Among the colourful abodes is the Wyannie Malone Museum, well worth popping in to soak up some island history. After missing an afternoon ferry back to Marsh Harbour we joke that we might as well go trolling for sweethearts while waiting an hour for the next boat to arrive.

The next morning, a chase is definitely on, albeit one with much fewer moral repercussions. After a 20-minute ride from Green Turtle Cay skipped by Lincoln Jones, the proprietor of Lincoln’s Island Adventures, we baited our hooks with a chopped up minnow and went fishing for yellow-tailed snapper. I got lucky with my virgin cast. After a spirited fight that nearly jerked me overboard, I reel her in, free her of the hook and toss her into the well. Before we drop anchor at Munjack Cay for lunch I’ll catch three more.

I saunter down the bleach-white sands and wade into knee-depth waters to examine the dozen-odd orangey starfish speckling the ocean’s floor. Braver members of our party feed fish scraps to the nearby sand sharks. Meanwhile Lincoln and his son Marcus cook up our catch, which we wash down with Kalik beer and a jug of pre-mixed Goombay Smash cocktails.

Quick tip

Eat. The Bahamian Isle is famous for its abundance of conch. Try conch salad, a cerviche preparation, garnished with tomatoes and cucumbers as well as cracked conch, conch soup, conch fritters and conch sashimi.

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