January 13, 2013

The America Christopher Columbus discovered on October 12, 1492 was an island in what is today the Bahamas.

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is today's "History of" country. It was an island that was inhabited by the Lucayans, who called it Guanahani. The Lucayans had canoed over to the Bahama islands between 500 and 800 A.D.
The Bahamas held little of interest to the Spanish other than as a source of slave labor. Nearly the entire population of Lucayans (almost 40,000 people total) were deported over the next 30 years. When the Spanish decided to evacuate the remaining Lucayans to Hispaniola in 1520, they could find only eleven in all of the Bahamas. The islands remained abandoned and depopulated for 130 years afterwards....
English settlers began arriving in 1648. The first, who called themselves Eleutherians, were farmers who didn't do too well. The New Providence settlement, begun in 1666 "made their living from the sea, salvaging (mainly Spanish) wrecks, making salt, and taking fish, turtles, conchs and ambergris."

Conflicts with the Spanish ensued over this salvaging of Spanish wrecks, and in 1685, the Spanish burned down New Providence and Eleuthera and these places were "largely abandoned." Five years later, the place was full of English privateers, who — after England made peace with France — became pirates. Then — if I'm reading this right — the pirates got back to being privateers or back again to being pirates depending on whether there was there was a war going on.

If you want to investigate the privateer/pirate distinction, you can look here.

Nowadays, the Bahamas seems like a nice place to go for vacation, and it looks like the tourists like the pirate-related attractions, like the Pirates of Nassau Museum, which invites you to "plunder" its gift shop.

24 comments:

virgil xenophon said...

The last time this fossil was in the Bahamas (Nassau, 1966) Paradise Island was deserted save for a few private estates and an empty beach with a few straw cabanas and could be reached only by boat which discontinued service after 6pm..

What is this thing called "Atlantis?" lol

Michael said...

There in Abacos the locals put out false lights which actually led ships to the shoals whereupon the locals went to work salvaging the cargo. Lots of Royalists left the US for the Abacos where they are still found intermarried to the teeth.

Other Royalists tried to grown cotton the the thin soil of Eluthera and Andros. Disaster.

Wonderful country with wonderful people. Only now coming out of the 1950s.

Wally Kalbacken said...

I was in Nassau last April. When you arrive by ship you shuttle through the city of Nassau and most people go directly to the resorts nearby. If you spend any time in Nassau proper, you get some very fast clues that you are entering a place governed by a different legal system. Pitched sidewalks, fractured curbs, tons of physical hazards that premises liability has wrung out of the physical infrastructure, for the most part, in the United States. Lots of battered cars, even recent models driving the streets with body panels duct-taped back in place, rusty exposed sheet metal, etc. Things you don't see that often in the US. Serious fencing, concertina wire and my favorite, broken glass set in concrete at the top of walls to discourage intruders. This is the third world, albeit with nice beaches.

Surfed said...

Awesome place to surf and dive. Gin clear water and just a puddle jump from St Augustine. One of the few places in the world where there has been a decrease in the number of surfers in the water. Great sailing and diving too. To all you land locked legions of the un-jazzed stay on the cruise ships and only go to Nassau. All other islands mine. Thanks for your cooperation.

ironrailsironweights said...

In the 200+ years that weather records have been kept, there has been only one instance of snow in the Bahamas. Some wet snow mixed with rain fell on Freeport on January 19, 1977. It was part of a freak cold snap in which Miami received some light snow.

Peter

dave_WI said...

And the subject of Pirates came up why. . . ?

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edutcher said...

People forget the Bahamas is in the Atlantic Ocean and doesn't get the effect of the Gulf Stream in January.

Result: very cold water. In June, it's like bath water (although the air temp is like a sauna).

Suggestion: You want to go someplace in January, try Jamaica or the Virgin Islands. The Bahamas should be livable around March.

Michael said...

Edutcher. The locals wot go in the water until June. Period.

Disney bought an island upon which they constructed a faux Bahamian village so the Disney cruise ship could pull in and the passengers could disembark to shop for crap without fear of having to deal with actual locals.

edutcher said...

They show good sense.

Michael said...

Edutcher. My comments were about natives of the northern Bahamas. Much warmer in Inagua which lies near the Turks. Adjacent Cuba. Pretty warm year around.

San Salvador which they claim is the island Columbus discovered is nearly as far south but is surrounded by deep water. I have been there in summer and winter and do not recommend.

rhhardin said...

In the year fourteen hundred and ninety three
Columbus sailed the dark green sea.

edutcher said...

My experience was on New Providence - Paradise Island, but I can see where the more southerly islands would be warmer.

traditionalguy said...

Admiral Columbus was a heck of a sailor.

He came over on the easterly trade winds along the equator from the Azores and had to go home by sailing far enough north to discover the westerly tradewinds to get his little fleet back across the Atlantic and then to tack southerly to Spain. That was a discovery as important to developing New spain as discovering the Caribbean Islands/Cuba was.

ironrailsironweights said...

In the year fourteen hundred and ninety three
Columbus sailed the dark green sea.


A popular ditty from my grade school years:

In fourteen hundred and ninety two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He hit a rock, fingered his c*ck,
And p*ssed all over the crew.

Peter

Mike said...

The Abacos. Go to the Abacos. Surfed doesn't want you to find his beach there. A little google fu will lead you to the right island.

Basta! said...

From the link, Addison and Steele are mentioned in connection with Bahama's first Royal Governor. I never thought to encounter that pair again.

My high school tried to emulate what an upper-class English boys' school was like, although I think they were probably way off the mark. Thus we were assigned pieces from Addison and Steele's The Spectator, along with Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son aka On the Fine Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman. All of which occasioned much eye-rolling, in approved teenage fashion.

Starfish said...

There's a super-fancy hotel in St. Barths called Guanahani. Nice name, now we know where it comes from.

Starfish said...

There's a super-fancy hotel in St. Barths called Guanahani. Nice name, now we know where it comes from.

JAL said...

The pirate museum is fun. But don't expect slick like Disney. They do have a sense of humor. There is also another one in Saint Augustine. Carnival runs short cruises to Nassau / Bahamas from St Augustine.

Last time we were in Nassau we took a local bus to the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Park. Nice exposure to local plants flowers, birds and critters, including a fair number of non-native beasties whose owners abandoned them in the Bahamas. You can get great pictures feeding the Lory parrots from your hand. Tons of flamingos you can walk through, plus a crazy show where they are herded around.

Walked back into town via Fort Charlotte.

The British soldiers death rate from fever was absolutely horrendous. Being assigned there was almost a death sentence. Also the former British governor of Virginia (of the infamous Williamsburg Gunpowder Incident) ended up being governor of the Bahamas. (The Williamsburg incident interesting in light of our discussions these days about gun control and tyranny.)

Michael Crichton wrote a fun adventure novel about pirate / privateers Pirate Latitudes: A Novel.

Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19.

Mitch H. said...

I went to see if there was any connection between New Providence and the Puritan settlement Providence Island, and was amused to read that "The ‘New’ was added later to distinguish it from a small island off British Honduras (now Belize) used by pirates."

As if Bahamians would be offended to be associated with *another* nest of Caribbean piracy.

Hmm, actually, that page contains nary a mention of privateering or piracy in the Bahamas.

EMD said...

Disney bought an island upon which they constructed a faux Bahamian village so the Disney cruise ship could pull in and the passengers could disembark to shop for crap without fear of having to deal with actual locals.

Our Disney cruise stopped at both Nassau and the Disney island (which really doesn't have much of a village) Nassau was interesting, but not what I would call enchanting. We did a dolphin meet-and-greet on another small island, and it was in April and the water was very cold.

The Disney island had some nice beaches and some waterslides and a few places to buy Disnified crap. Unfortunately, our glass-bottom boat trip was cancelled due to high winds.

EMD said...

I was in Fort Lauderdale ready to board a cruise ship in January of 2010 and it was 38-degrees and raining the night before.

The entire cruise it didn't get over 70 degrees — Cozumel was nice buy Grand Cayman was a disappointment as again, stingray swim was cancelled due to weather.