Bahama Tales - The Mail Boat

There were only two ways to get to Cat Island, either by air (with your own private plane or on the DC3 that flew in once in awhile to a little one room shack of an airport...that's another story) or on a mailboat that traveled between the islands once a week.

The Lady Dundas was our mailboat. It was our link to the outside world. We received all of our non-perishable foods (mostly canned goods and toiletries), packages from family living in the States, clothes or gifts ordered by catalog, and anything else we might need.

To travel on the mailboat was an experience you'd never forget. The smells of diesel mixed with animals and greasy foods remain in your memory forever. If you happened to get a cabin, the stuffy heat and rocking of the boat is enough to make you sick, forcing you on the deck. Out there, you'd meet goats, crates of crabs, bundles of sugar cane, and all sorts of people...some you'd rather not be too friendly with. Those boats carried lumber, bikes, even small cars...anything you could fit and was willing to pay for.

When we left Nassau, my mother was not quite done with her midwifry course. My father, my two brothers (ages 4 and 2), and I (age 8)returned to Cat Island early. I remember that day vividly, for I was frightened. We loaded our things on the boat, and my father left to park our blue VW bug. My mother was not going with us, so she stayed on the dock. I remember hearing the boat's warning horn and seeing the crew readying to cast off. My father wasn't back yet! I experienced this horrible feeling of having to take care of my brothers all the way to Cat Island. (Of course, my mother would not have let that happened. She would have gotten on with us if the boat started to leave before my father returned, but as a child, I didn't think of that, and I was frightened.)

My father made it back in time, and we traveled through the night to Cat Island. He found a place on the top deck, so it would be cooler and cleaner. I remember we had two kittens with us. They kept trying to get out of their box, so my father wedged it under something and let them meow the whole way. My father had arranged for Uncle Roy to meet us at Arthur's Town at midnight.

I remember a couple other trips on the Lady Dundas. It was hard to tell one from the other. I do remember being very sea sick once when a storm hit us and the waves were huge.

I love boats, and I've ridden in many different kinds, but I don't think I've ever ridden in one as interesting as the Cat Island mailboat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post brought my own memories of being on a ship wondering what to do with a younger sibling when the warning bell sounded. I'm enjoying these memories of yours. Thanks.


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