Posts in Destinations
BIRDS OF PARADISE

Charter Yacht Sweet Escape in the Southern Bahamas for an Audubon Adventure.

The Flamingo is the national bird of The Bahamas.  The West Indian Flamingo which once roamed the entire neo-tropical region (tropical Americas) was hunted to a near extinction. Today the West Indian Flamingo is mostly found on the island of Great Inagua in the Bahamas but has also recolonized islands in the Bahamas such as Mayaguana, Crooked and Acklin islands, Exumas, Long Island and Andros. These photographs are from a small group that flew by while Yacht Sweet Escape was on Charter in Crooked Island, the Southern Bahamas, February 2019. The mating season usually starts March and that is when you are more likely to see them. During the Southern Bahamas charter in February, our guests were lucky to have seen fabulous flamingos on several occasions, as well as having encountered other interesting wildlife including sperm whales, pilot whales, several species of turtles, sting rays, lemon sharks, and bats!

Flamingo Facts:

  • Flamingos emerged early on after the extinction of the dinosaurs, with their cousin or possible ancestor, Juncitarsus, appearing in the fossil record about fifty million years ago. 

  • What appears to be the flamingo knee — half-way down the leg — is actually an ankle. What appears to be the ankle is actually where the toe starts. The West Indian Flamingo has a large, heavy, down curved bill that is most often described as “strange”.  Adult West Indian Flamingos can reach up to five feet in height.

  • These birds prefer the salt life, whether it’s saline lagoons, muddy flats, or shallow coastal lakes. They are tough creatures, able to tolerate two times the salinity of sea water and alkalinity up to pH 10.5, which would dissolve human skin.

  • The West Indian Flamingo is also refered to as the American, Caribbean or Rosey Flamingo. There are 6 type of Flamingos in the world. The West Indian Flamingo has also recolonized other countries such as Aruba; Brazil; Colombia; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Mexico; Netherlands Antilles; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States and Venezuela.

Booby Cay, Bahamas: Important Bird Area

Brown Booby off Yacht Sweet Escape, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas February, 2019

Brown Booby off Yacht Sweet Escape, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas February, 2019

Booby Cay lies to the east of mainland Mayaguana in the remote Southern Bahamas. It gets its name from the flock of Brown Boobies that call it home. It is also a habitat for a species of small rock iguanas, only found there, and descendants of wild goats left behind by early settlers.

The Brown Booby, Sula leucogaster, nests on Booby Cay, and White-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon lepturus, nest on the cliffs at Northwest Point. Non-breeding numbers of Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Masked Booby, Sula dactylatra, and Royal Tern, Sterna maxima, are also regionally important. Magnificent Frigatebird, Fregata magnificens, nest in this Important Bird Area. The wetlands support shorebirds, ducks, herons and egrets. Reddish Egret, Egretta rufescens, is apparently common, and up to 200 Caribbean Flamingo, Phoenicopterus rubber, frequent the wetlands at Blackwood Point. The Near Threatened Whitecrowned Pigeon, Patagioenas leucocephala, breed in this IBA.

APRIL 2019

Swim or Sink: Snorkel, SCUBA or Hunt for Treasure

The clear and pristine water of The Bahamas allows for incredible views beneath the surface as well as those fantastic pink powder beach vistas. Snorkelers have a panoramic view seen through glass. This crispness creates confidence in the more intrepid of nautical explorers because one can see exactly what’s in front of you and for that matter, in every direction! The art of SCUBA gives a immersive experience of all the wonderful Atlantean and mythical treasure The Bahamas has to offer. The draw back is, of course, it requires certification. With a dive master onboard, there is no better place in the world to gain your certification!

The water of The Bahamas stays between 72 and 83 Fahrenheit, or 22-28 degrees Celsius, year round. No wetsuits needed, although shorties are available onboard; for SCUBA diving there a variety of thicker full-body suits and booties also available. The warm and sheltered waters are ideal year round for snorkeling and SCUBA diving. There is no real wind-chill factor and regardless who could resist a plunge in the hot tub to soothe the wary muscles after a fun filled afternoon. With snorkeling in The Bahamas, the experience becomes three dimensional, and by far not a sacrifice to the more rigorous SCUBA activities. Snorkeling can be preformed by the less confident of swimmers while offering the ability to wear a life-vest. The shallow waters are abundant with marine life for close encounters as loved by SCUBA divers.

Snorkeling is an easy and fun activity for any level of adventurer. The wonderful shallow waters of The Bahamas have a variety of shipwrecks, sunken planes, as well as man-made sculptures, by the talented artist Jason de Caires Taylor, that appeal to everyone; there is even an underwater train wreck! Along with the plethora of natural beauty including water in every hue of turquoise, the motley of marine life in The Bahamas is effervescent as abundant. Starfish of every variety, shells and corals, schools of fish that leap into the sunshine are all a common sight; so are the larger variety of marine life inclusive of turtles, rays, dolphins, manatees, and of course the very docile nurse shark. This variety of marine biology that is within a mere few feet of water can make what is know as a gentle activity of snorkeling, what can be traditionally be referred to by SCUBA enthusiasts as a lesser experience, to one that is riveting and unparalleled by other regional snorkel locales.

Wether you are an experienced SCUBA diver or a novice snorkeler, The Bahamas is the ideal place for an underwater excursion. Don’t hesitate to let Captain Paul, also a master diver, show you the best of The Bahamas. One of the many advantages of yacht charter is that the location of your dive can be tailored to your desires, there are 700 islands to choose from. In the Bahamas there are magnificent blue holes, sea walls and drifts and coral, and sculpture gardens. There is no shortage of ideal locations for any level of diver so that the entire family or group can be catered to without any trade-off of adventure.

Beneath Earth’s waters it is estimated that there are 3 million undiscovered shipwrecks. Of course, after the shark dive experience with Stuart Cove’s, a huge romanticized draw to diving in Bahamian waters is the prospect of finding treasure. The story of the Nuestra Senora de la Maravilla is one of the few true successful discoveries. In 1656, having been grounded in a mere 30’ of water then sunk off the Little Bahama Bank, while carrying five million pesos of treasure, the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de la Maravilla was rediscovered in the early 1970’s. Since her discovery, having been one of the largest find in the 20th century, the wreck area is still being searched today, but officially the Bahamian government has not granted any leases on the site since the early 1990s. It is possible the bulk of the treasure has yet to be claimed, with over half of the official cargo still unfound today!

Just about every island in The Bahamas will have its own beloved pirate mascot like Arthur Catt for Cat Island, Captain Morgan in Andros, Blackbeard just about everywhere and many more. Furthermore each island will have folklore of buried treasure that has never been found by land or lost at sea. Although Captain Paul cannot promise you will find much of these lost treasures while snorkeling, you will make memories that are unfathomable while on your charter with Yacht Sweet Escape.

careful-reflection-charter-yacht-dive-snorkel-nursesharks-bahamas-simming-bite-shark-shallow-water-warm-scuba-padi-blake-lively

Top 5 Bahamas Snorkeling Destinations

1. Staniel Cay

While the rest of these sites can prove to be quite beautiful, they are no match for what Staniel Cay has in store. A visit to Staniel Cay, the jewel in the crown of the Bahamas, provides you with some of the very best snorkeling in Bahamas. The incredible diversity of sites here is why this destination is worth a visit. For a start, you can take a short boat trip out to Thunderball Grotto and get lost in the exciting world of James Bond. This site was used in the filming of the 1965 Bond movie “Thunderball” which led to the naming of the Grotto. Swimming through an underwater tunnel to emerge in a shimmering cave full of turquoise light is something that every snorkeling enthusiast should experience.

If you feel inclined to visit some less natural sites, then Staniel Cay will also grant you access to the wreck of a drug smuggler’s plane. This fascinating site displays the damaged wreck of a small aircraft surrounded by nothing but clear turquoise water and a soft white bed of sand below.

2. Green Turtle Cay and the Abaco Islands

Setting out from Marsh Harbour, the largest settlement in the Abacos, you will have a plethora of different sites available to visit. Amongst these, you will find Green Turtle Cay to be one of the very best destinations. This island has an enchanting ambience both above and below the waves. Snorkeling here will allow for endless coral exploration blended with the flurry of fish that call this area home.

3. Long Island

While Long Island certainly provides its fair share of great coastal snorkeling sites, the real attraction here is Dean’s Blue Hole. The world’s second deepest blue hole and the site of many freediving competitions, this site has a little something for everyone, including snorkelers. You won’t need to swim out above the cavernous blue hole to get a taste for the its beautiful mystery. Snorkeling around the shallows, with soft sand and crystalline water can serve as an excellent use of your time.

4. Bimini

The tiny island of Bimini can be found on the western outskirts of the Bahamian archipelago. This destination boasts warm currents and a range of diverse coral reefs to explore. Bimini Road is one of the most popular of all the snorkeling sites, home to a series of stone monoliths that are rumoured to be part of the lost city of Atlantis. Your trip to Bimini will also be one of the most lively underwater experiences you have on your Bahamas snorkeling tour. Rainbow Reef is a magnificent and colorful coral ridge that plays host to one of the largest fish populations in the country. Alternatively, you could choose to visit Stingray Hole, which is aptly named due to the countless stingrays that call this reef home. In fact, if you bring along some fresh fish strips on your snorkel, you’ll even have the chance to feed these stingrays right from your hand.

Another excellent wreck-site close to Bimini is the remains of the Sapona. It was damaged during a hurricane in 1926 which led to its watery grave. However, it is one of the few wrecks shallow enough to snorkel and offers some of the best snorkeling in Bahamas. It’s sites like this one that make Bahamas snorkeling so unique.

5. Freeport

From the city of Freeport on Grand Bahama alone, there are a number of different Bahamas snorkeling tours to choose from. Freeport Bahamas snorkeling is very popular because of the calm waters, and diverse sites, providing excitement for both beginners and experienced snorkelers. Not to mention its proximity to Miami, being the nearest Bahamian settlement to Florida. Amongst other truly great destinations, the most visited site is undoubtedly Deadman’s Reef. The reason this site is so popular is that it displays both extensive coral heads as well as playing host to a thriving marine life population. Sites like this one are generally found much further offshore and require a boat trip to visit, but Deadman’s Reef is near enough to Paradise Cove to swim.

bahamasairtours.com/bahamas-snorkeling-locations/

MARCH 2019

Legacies, Love and The Lone Tree

LEGACY

David Hicks is considered to be among the foremost interior designers of the 20th century. From the decoration of his own house in London in 1956—in powerful colors that heralded an end to the drab, postwar English look—he set the pace for interior design both in Europe and America. His style suited the Bahamas at the time perfectly with his signature prints on crisp linen in pastel hues, and with his salvaged architectural gems found on his travels through the mainland flanking sand-clad walls inside and out.

After their honeymoon visit to Eleuthera in 1960, David Hicks and his wife, Lady Pamela Hicks, bought a plot of land on Windemere Island and spent the years after building a spectacular island retreat. Savannah House, as it was named, was roughly completed around 1967, and recently having gone under a loving renovation after storm damage in 2013. www.coastalliving.com/homes/india-hicks-rebuilding-the-past

Slim Aarons captures The Hickes, Savannah, Windemere Island, Eleuthera. India Hicks has the tennis racket.

Slim Aarons captures The Hickes, Savannah, Windemere Island, Eleuthera. India Hicks has the tennis racket.

India Hicks was born in London, England, and comes from both British and design royalty. Her father was famed interior decorator David Hicks; her mother is Lady Pamela Hicks, whose father was Admiral of the Fleet, the first Earl of Mountbatten of Burma and the last Viceroy of India, hence India’s name. Lady Pamela was a bridesmaid in Queen Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who is Lady Pamela’s first cousin.

India was thrust into the spotlight early in her life. She was asked to be a bridesmaid in Princess Diana and Prince Charles' 1980 royal wedding in London, when she was only 13. More recently, India served as a TV commentator for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. For years, India was a busy fashion model and the "face" of the Ralph Lauren label. Today, she is the designer of India Hicks Living and a creator of lifestyle products.

India Hicks Legacy Letters inspired from the Legacy print that David Hicks left his family.

India Hicks Legacy Letters inspired from the Legacy print that David Hicks left his family.


LOVE

The ever British, socialite-in-residence of Harbour Island for over 20 years, tells how she went from David Hick’s Savannah mausoleum to her Harbour Island residence of Hibiscus Hill:

”I already knew my future husband. The year was 1995. I was working as a model in New York. I rediscovered David, who would become my other half.”


David was managing a small, funky hotel on neighboring Harbour Island, known for its pink sand beaches. I turned up there unannounced to go diving. David now describes this as “our Casablanca movie moment.”

”It was that romantic. I left New York and moved to Harbour Island...this tiny Bahamian “out island” off of Eleuthera…I have a deep love for Harbour Island. It changed me. I had been modeling all over the world up until that moment, mainly living out of a suitcase. Moving from city to city, running to airports, showing up in the morning looking my best even if I felt my worst. On Harbour Island, everything was different. I was able to breathe in the fresh air, stand on the bare earth, and take hold of time.


”Harbour Island has also had a powerful effect on my work. I became inspired by the Bahamas, a nation of people at ease with themselves. In the Bahamas, beauty cannot be defined or stereotyped. It is not seen as a blessing bestowed upon only a select few, but as something within every one of us.”

India Hicks: A Love Story About the Bahamas and Me. by KAREN TINA HARRISON

Inspired by the music, dancing and sheer fun of Junkanoo,  IndiaHicks.com ’s newest Insta Pouch captures it all in a lightning fast snap.

Inspired by the music, dancing and sheer fun of Junkanoo, IndiaHicks.com’s newest Insta Pouch captures it all in a lightning fast snap.

By work India refers to her co-owned boutique the Sugar Mill on Harbour Island.  The Sugar Mill was actually a functioning sugar mill circa 1925. The boutique opened in November 2005 with Linda Griffin’s (co-owner) and India’s original vision of offering a boutique shop filled with global treasures for all ages and even 4-legged friends, is still very much alive today. 

India Hicks founded her new self-titled company in early 2015. After years of creating collections for traditional retail, she decided to take a different, and far more personal, route in launching her own brand. The exclusive collections of well-crafted gifts, beauty and accessories are all designed by India.


THE LONE TREE

Lone_tree_harbour_island

Located on what’s known as Girl’s Bank on the western side of Harbour Island is a much-photographed tree skeleton. Lone Tree washed up in Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and landed upright with its intricate root ball supporting it at its base. The original tree washed away in another hurricane, but it had gained so much popularity and become such a landmark that it was eventually replaced by another, much larger tree that was strategically “planted” in the sand flats. It resembles a piece of art in the vast sand flats. It has been featured in magazines and is a popular spot for photography.

Visit Eleuthera on Yacht Sweet Escape on charter. Explore Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, Egg Island, Royal Island, Lighthouse Point, Surfer’s Beach and more!

MARCH 2019

A Wonderful Time
Ocean Club, Slim Aarons 1968, mounted on canvas in the On Deck Master, onboard Yacht Sweet Escape

Ocean Club, Slim Aarons 1968, mounted on canvas in the On Deck Master, onboard Yacht Sweet Escape

Slim Aarons made his career out of what he called "photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” Slim Aarons always had a knack for chronicling just the right people in just the right sort of places.

A hub for glamour, simplicity and relaxation, The Bahamas was a frequent stop for Slim as it was a perfect canvas for his kind of theatre. With the Bahamas’ “pristine beaches and sunshine, you will find glamorous people.”-India Hicks. The above Slim Aarons’ photograph of The Ocean Club, Paradise Island, The Bahamas hangs in the On Deck Master aboard Yacht Sweet Escape.

On Deck Mater stateroom with Slim Aarons’ photograph and Jonathan Adler fabric blinds. Jonathan Adler often incorporates the iconic Slim Aarons in his projects.

On Deck Mater stateroom with Slim Aarons’ photograph and Jonathan Adler fabric blinds. Jonathan Adler often incorporates the iconic Slim Aarons in his projects.

Slim Aarons captured a lifestyle, a moment that can never be reproduced. Slim, who has been called the “photo laureate of the upper classes”, created a visual vocabulary of glamour that spans 60 years – more, if you consider his enduring influence on fashion and modern photography. Slim Aarons was phenomenal at penetrating wasp culture and high society during his time as a photographer of “The High Life”. He made wealth and privilege unapologetic and was capable of producing shots that looked natural; he was able to avoid it looking vulgar or ridiculous. His archives are a treasure-trove of inspiration to designers everywhere.

The Ocean Club itself has a history of being the right sort of place and had been a subject of Slim Aarons on different occasions, displaying chronologically its stability as a playground for the rich and famous. It is still popular as a wedding venue for the rich and famous, a retreat for the ultra-wealthy, and is often featured in movies, videos and major sporting events like the LPGA PureSilk golf tournament.

The initial start, in the 1930’s, of Hog Island being transformed to Paradise Island was by Axel Wenner-Gren, founder of Electrolux. He oversaw the development of his Shangri La, including his gardens that were inspired by those at the Chateau de Versailles. In 1959, Wenner-Gren sold Shangri La to George Huntington Hartford II, heir to the Great Atlantic and Pacific (A&P) Tea Company. Hartford hired the Palm Beach architect John Volk and built the Ocean Club, Cafe Martinique, Hurricane Hole, the Golf Course, among other island landmarks.

There was a fortune spent by Hartford on the build; additionally he invested a substantial amount on the landscaping including the 12th-century Augustinian Cloister. These Cloisters were reported as having been disassembled and shipped piece by piece from France (a romanticized version of events perhaps), as the second version of events is that he acquired and installed them, being from a 14th-century French Augustinian monastery originally purchased in Montréjeau and dismantled by William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s, and having no masterplan they took over a year to reassemble onsite.

Despite its constant stream of absolutely fabulous guests, the venture failed to make Hartford money as he was always lending the hotel rooms out or hosting his friends rather than charging them. Hartford eventually received a casino license, shortly thereafter in 1966, Hartford sold the majority of his share of the island. Now a Four Season’s Resort, The Ocean Club has had previously been owned by Merv Griffen, Donald Trump, and Kerzner International, with the Casino and Augustinian Cloister’s still a major attraction on the island.

MARCH 2019