Times of the Islands Winter 2020/21

Presents the "soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands" with in-depth features about local people, culture, history, environment, real estate, businesses, resorts, restaurants and activities.

Presents the "soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands" with in-depth features about local people, culture, history, environment, real estate, businesses, resorts, restaurants and activities.


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TIMES<br />

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS WINTER <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> NO. 133<br />

OF THE<br />


SALT CAY<br />

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contents<br />

Departments<br />

6 From <strong>the</strong> Editor<br />

11 Around <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Soul Food<br />

By Diane Taylor<br />

14 Eye on <strong>the</strong> Sky<br />

A Record Breaker<br />

By Paul Wilkerson<br />

18 Talking Taíno<br />

America’s First Christmas<br />

By Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson<br />

& Michael Pateman<br />

50 Real Estate<br />

Living Outside <strong>the</strong> Box<br />

By Kathy Borsuk<br />

73 About <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>/TCI Map<br />

77 Subscription Form<br />

78 Where to Stay<br />

80 Dining<br />

82 Classified Ads<br />

Feature<br />

40 Back in Time<br />

By Debbie Manos<br />

Green Pages<br />

24 Teenage Turtle Tales<br />

Story & Photos By Dr. Peter Richardson and<br />

Amdeep Sanghera, Marine Conservation Society<br />

29 Coming Home to <strong>Winter</strong><br />

By Elise Elliot-Smith, Caleb Spiegel, Jen Rock,<br />

Craig Watson, Bryan N. Manco, Lormeka<br />

Williams and Eric F. Salamanca<br />

33 One Small Splash for Man<br />

Story & Photos By Carmen Hoyt<br />

36 Plotting for Progress<br />

Story & Images By B Naqqi Manco<br />

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />


SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS WINTER <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> NO. 133<br />

On <strong>the</strong> Cover<br />

Award-winning Master Photographer Christine Morden,<br />

owner <strong>of</strong> Paradise Photography (myparadisephoto.com),<br />

took this photo through <strong>the</strong> window <strong>of</strong> a historic building<br />

on Salt Cay. She used this unique perspective to provide<br />

an interesting foreground compositional element for a<br />

creative twist on a beach landscape.<br />

Astrolabe<br />

62 Modern Crusoes<br />

By Jeffrey Dodge<br />

67 TCI in World War II<br />

By Captain Eric Wiberg<br />

29<br />


4 www.timespub.tc

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sq. ft. <strong>of</strong> living space, with travertine floors, vaulted ceilings and contemporary Caribbean architecture.<br />

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In addition, <strong>the</strong> villa features extensive entertaining and recreational space and a waterfront pool.<br />

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Bernadette has lived in <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos<br />

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numbers are unrivalled. Bernadette<br />

has listings on Providenciales, Pine Cay,<br />

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Turks and Caicos Property is <strong>the</strong> leading<br />

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Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> with <strong>of</strong>fices located at Ocean<br />

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Plaza on <strong>the</strong> Grace Bay Road.<br />

Bernadette’s reputation and success has been<br />

earned over time through her dedication,<br />

enthusiasm and passion for real estate. Her<br />

personal experience as having practiced law<br />

in <strong>the</strong> islands for more than 10 years toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

with owning and renovating a number <strong>of</strong><br />

properties means she is well-placed to advise<br />

her customers and developers on what to<br />

anticipate in <strong>the</strong> purchasing and construction<br />

process.<br />

Bernadette delights in working in <strong>the</strong> real<br />

estate industry and her humor and energy<br />

make her a pleasure to work with.<br />

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from <strong>the</strong> editor<br />


One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> “miracles” for which I am so grateful is how Marta Morton always has <strong>the</strong> perfect picture to express my words. This e<strong>the</strong>real sunset<br />

is a daily reminder <strong>of</strong> TCI’s glorious natural beauty; never-fading, always uplifting, a reminder <strong>of</strong> God’s goodness and grace.<br />

A Year <strong>of</strong> Miracles<br />

Last Sunday, our pastor at Community Fellowship Centre in Providenciales, Bradley Handfield, asked <strong>the</strong> congregation<br />

how many had experienced a miracle this year. Nearly all hands raised, mine included. For although most <strong>of</strong><br />

us look forward to crumpling up <strong>the</strong> <strong>2020</strong> calendar and throwing it away, we also must remember that in times <strong>of</strong><br />

great difficulty, miracles—God’s grace in action—can and do abound.<br />

The fact that <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are currently open for business, nearly COVID-19-free and positioned for<br />

a thriving rebound is amazing to me when I remember <strong>the</strong> long, frightening days <strong>of</strong> lockdown this spring. My elderly<br />

parents and uncle stayed safe at home in <strong>the</strong> US when I could not be with <strong>the</strong>m. My sister’s house was spared from<br />

<strong>the</strong> raging wildfire that destroyed most <strong>of</strong> her town. There is food on our table, a ro<strong>of</strong> over our head, our rusty old<br />

cars are still running . . . and COVID-19 vaccines have been produced and are being distributed in record time!<br />

And here is ano<strong>the</strong>r issue <strong>of</strong> <strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. We continue to <strong>of</strong>fer <strong>the</strong> magazine on-line only, with a limited<br />

number <strong>of</strong> printed copies for subscribers. Although <strong>the</strong> Summer and Fall virtual editions have enjoyed tremendous<br />

readership, we pray <strong>the</strong> economy—and our advertisers’ pocketbooks—improve so <strong>the</strong> next issue can be fully in print.<br />

I am so grateful for <strong>the</strong> subscribers and readers who encourage us to carry on, <strong>the</strong> advertisers who support us and<br />

<strong>the</strong> contributors who research, write and send <strong>the</strong> articles and photos that make <strong>the</strong> magazine happen.<br />

For me—a woman from Chicago—every day spent in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> is a miracle. The pastel sunrises,<br />

verdant vegetation, sweet sea breezes, shimmering turquoise seas, glittering beaches, golden afternoons, blazing<br />

sunsets and crisply drawn constellations are <strong>the</strong> epitome <strong>of</strong> God’s creation and always bring me joy. And so I give<br />

thanks, even for <strong>2020</strong>. Kathy Borsuk, Editor • timespub@tciway.tc • (649) 431-4788<br />

6 www.timespub.tc

Introducing <strong>the</strong> Boathouses<br />

The Boathouses at South Bank will be conveniently<br />

located on <strong>the</strong> marina waterfront with elevated<br />

water views, most with a private dock keeping<br />

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Cleverly designed to maximize space and light,<br />

each is imbued with a warm, contemporary<br />

aes<strong>the</strong>tic as a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom layout. Managed<br />

by Grace Bay Resorts, <strong>the</strong> Boathouses will <strong>of</strong>fer<br />

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and space.<br />

Prices starting from $795,000<br />

Register interest today at livesouthbank.com<br />

Developed by <strong>the</strong><br />

Windward Development Company<br />

www.windward.tc<br />

Brand partners:<br />

Managed by:<br />

For more information contact<br />

Nina Siegenthaler at 649.231.0707<br />

Joe Zahm at 649.231.6188<br />

or email: nina@tcso<strong>the</strong>bysrealty.com

TIMES<br />


Kathy Borsuk<br />


Claire Parrish<br />


Kathy Borsuk, Dr. Betsy Carlson, Jeffrey Dodge,<br />

Elise Elliot-Smith, Carmen Hoyt, Dr. Bill Keegan,<br />

Bryan N. Manco, Debbie Manos, Claire Parrish,<br />

Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Dr. Peter Richardson, Jen Rock,<br />

Eric F. Salamanca, Amdeep Sanghera, Caleb Spiegel,<br />

Diane Taylor, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot, Craig Watson,<br />

Captain Eric Wiberg, Paul Wilkerson, Lormeka Williams.<br />


Florida Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History, Chuck Hesse,<br />

Carmen Hoyt, Gary James–Provo Pictures, Keller Williams<br />

Realty, Macquarrie Family, Christine Morden–Paradise<br />

Photography, Marta Morton, NOAA, Ingrid Pohl Family,<br />

Read Family, Dr. Peter Richardson, Eric F. Salamanca,<br />

Ramona Settle, Melissa Steinman, iStock.com,<br />

Clarence Stringer, Turks & Caicos National Museum, Diane<br />

Taylor, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot, Sherlin Williams.<br />


National Hurricane Center, Theodore Morris,<br />

José Obregon, Wavey Line Publishing<br />


PF Solutions, Miami, FL<br />

OF THE<br />


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published quarterly by <strong>Times</strong> Publications Ltd.<br />

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Submissions We welcome submission <strong>of</strong> articles or photography, but<br />

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10 www.timespub.tc

around <strong>the</strong> islands<br />

What is <strong>the</strong> connection between a shark and a plump pumpkin? Read this “tale <strong>of</strong> transformation” to find out.<br />


Soul Food<br />

A tale <strong>of</strong> transformation.<br />

By Diane Taylor<br />

Diane “Dee” Taylor lived and worked for three years on Pine Cay with her husband Gary Hodgkins in <strong>the</strong><br />

early 1980s. They worked with PRIDE (Protection <strong>of</strong> Reefs and <strong>Islands</strong> from Degradation and Exploitation)<br />

under <strong>the</strong> direction <strong>of</strong> Chuck Hesse. Diane’s job was culturing algae for <strong>the</strong> feeding <strong>of</strong> conch larvae. This<br />

story is a fond remembrance <strong>of</strong> her time <strong>the</strong>re. Raymond Campbell was born and raised in Sandy Point,<br />

North Caicos, and lived and worked on Pine Cay for many years.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 11


A young shark took <strong>the</strong> bait that<br />

was left overnight on a fishing line<br />

at <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> dock on Pine Cay—<br />

bait that was intended for snapper<br />

or grouper or any o<strong>the</strong>r delectable<br />

dinner fish. When Raymond found<br />

it on his slow-gaited inspection walk<br />

around <strong>the</strong> dive shop just after sunrise,<br />

it was dead. Sharks need to<br />

keep moving in order to brea<strong>the</strong>,<br />

and this one, unfortunately, had<br />

been kept virtually immobile by <strong>the</strong><br />

hook on a short line.<br />

Raymond hauled <strong>the</strong> creature in,<br />

all six feet and hundred pounds <strong>of</strong><br />

it. His parents, with survival skills<br />

that dated back to <strong>the</strong> late 1800s<br />

when <strong>the</strong>ir grandparents were<br />

brought to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> from Africa, would have filleted<br />

it, made shark steak or hash, and dried <strong>the</strong> rest. But<br />

at 19, tall, lanky Raymond had consumed enough shark<br />

meat to last him a lifetime. Moving quietly in his Speedo<br />

bathing suit and flip-flops, he loaded <strong>the</strong> recently dead<br />

animal onto a wheelbarrow and brought it to me.<br />

I had a working compost pile. It was in a big box that<br />

Raymond had nailed toge<strong>the</strong>r from two old doors on<br />

ei<strong>the</strong>r side, plywood cut to fit at both ends, a piece <strong>of</strong><br />

wood on <strong>the</strong> top, bare ground underneath. The box was<br />

about six feet long, three feet high, and three feet wide.<br />

I had filled it to <strong>the</strong> top with seaweed, leaves, donkey<br />

doo, lobster shells and refuse from many dinners from<br />

This image from PRIDE’s 1982 newsletter (Volume VII, No. 1) shows<br />

<strong>the</strong> shark being placed into <strong>the</strong> compost pile.<br />

“Dee” Taylor created a treasured necklace from <strong>the</strong> shark vertebrae left in <strong>the</strong> compost pile.<br />

<strong>the</strong> small hotel on <strong>the</strong> island. Hot stuff! Literally. When<br />

you dug in with your fingers, it was almost too hot to<br />

leave <strong>the</strong>m <strong>the</strong>re.<br />

“I knew you’d want dis,” he said in <strong>the</strong> s<strong>of</strong>t island way.<br />

We scooped <strong>the</strong> top layer <strong>of</strong> rotting debris <strong>of</strong>f onto <strong>the</strong><br />

ground, <strong>the</strong>n reached for <strong>the</strong> shark. “Look,” I said as we<br />

lifted <strong>the</strong> body into <strong>the</strong> box, “it fits!”<br />

Indeed it did. Then we put back <strong>the</strong> layer we had<br />

removed, and put <strong>the</strong> lid back on. C<strong>of</strong>fin-like.<br />

Two days later, I went back to check on our animal. As<br />

I lifted <strong>the</strong> lid and peered in, <strong>the</strong> strong scent <strong>of</strong> ammonia<br />

stung my sinuses. Hm-m. Nothing looked any different. I<br />

pulled aside <strong>the</strong> top layer <strong>of</strong> compost materials. There lay<br />

our friend. When I touched <strong>the</strong> grey skin, it was warm and<br />

pulled back easily to reveal white cooked flesh. I took a<br />

pinch to taste. Although <strong>the</strong> nitrogen odour was unpleasant,<br />

<strong>the</strong> flesh was flaky, mild and slightly sweet. I ran<br />

home, grabbed a knife and plate, and cut away enough<br />

for our dinner, hoping <strong>the</strong> smell would dissipate by <strong>the</strong>n.<br />

It did, and with sweet potatoes and white wine, we didn’t<br />

just eat dinner, we dined.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r two days later, I dug into <strong>the</strong> top layer and<br />

found . . . nothing. It was gone! Totally decomposed,<br />

transformed into o<strong>the</strong>r elements. The scent <strong>of</strong> ammonia<br />

was still <strong>the</strong>re—sign <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nitrogen that would make rich<br />

compost. This was amazing. So fast! The temperature <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> air, <strong>of</strong> course, was a helpful factor, 85ºF during <strong>the</strong><br />

day, 75ºF at night. I dug around a bit more. Along <strong>the</strong><br />

entire far side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> box was arrayed a row <strong>of</strong> vertebrae<br />

in perfect formation, from larger in <strong>the</strong> thoracic area to<br />


12 www.timespub.tc

petite in <strong>the</strong> tail. I’d never seen shark vertebrae, and was<br />

in awe. They were small and white, delicate. This fierce<br />

predator had exquisite gems running <strong>the</strong> length <strong>of</strong> its<br />

backbone. And such artistry in each one! Cylindrical,<br />

about as long as my thumbnail, with small oval holes<br />

along one side.<br />

Immediately I could see a necklace. I picked <strong>the</strong> vertebrae<br />

out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> hot pile, brought <strong>the</strong>m home and let<br />

<strong>the</strong>m completely dry on a plate in <strong>the</strong> sun. Days later, I<br />


Diane Taylor shows a pumpkin grown in PRIDE’s experimental garden<br />

in <strong>the</strong> early 1980s. She added compost and wood ashes to <strong>the</strong> sandy,<br />

salty alkaline soil to get better yield.<br />

Walkin May2017_Layout 1 5/28/17 5:45 PM Page 1<br />

drilled small holes in <strong>the</strong>ir centres and threaded a piece<br />

<strong>of</strong> lea<strong>the</strong>r thong through <strong>the</strong>m, knotting it between each<br />

one. The finished piece was gorgeous, exotic, primitive,<br />

and my artistic delight. I loved wearing it.<br />

A few months later, as part <strong>of</strong> a conference on gardening<br />

in <strong>the</strong> tropics, a group <strong>of</strong> us visited a museum in <strong>the</strong><br />

Dominican Republic. Under one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> glass cases <strong>of</strong> early<br />

man, I could hardly believe what my eyes were seeing. A<br />

necklace composed <strong>of</strong> shark vertebrae—from <strong>the</strong> 13th<br />

century! I felt an immediate kinship with <strong>the</strong> woman who<br />

imagined, designed and wore that necklace. In that startling<br />

moment, I met up with my original native self who<br />

wanted to adorn my body just as she did. I met a sister<br />

. . . who had lived, imagined, died and left beauty behind.<br />

You never know where <strong>the</strong> transformational processes<br />

<strong>of</strong> a compost pile will take you. Just as <strong>the</strong> shark’s flesh<br />

provided nourishment for my body, and its vertebrae provided<br />

artistic wonderment for my soul, so too your stories<br />

can provide soul food for generations to come. Imagine a<br />

descendant a few hundred years from now saying, “And<br />

to think she wrote this in <strong>the</strong> <strong>21</strong>st century!” a<br />

Diane Taylor teaches memoir writing and has published<br />

The Gift <strong>of</strong> Memoir: Show Up, Open Up, Write. She is part<br />

<strong>of</strong> Spirit <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Hills Writers. For more information, visit<br />

https://dianemtaylor.com.<br />




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FAX: 649-946-4945<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 13


eye on <strong>the</strong> sky<br />

Opposite page: Aside from increased wave action, a few squalls from Hurricane Isaias as it passed by and breezy conditions, <strong>the</strong> TCI survived<br />

<strong>the</strong> worst <strong>the</strong> Atlantic could throw at <strong>the</strong> Caribbean this year.<br />

Above: This satellite image shows Hurricane Isaias as it passed over <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> on July 30, <strong>2020</strong>. This was TCI’s closest brush<br />

with a storm during this record-breaking season.<br />

NOAA<br />

Back in <strong>the</strong> Spring <strong>2020</strong> issue <strong>of</strong> <strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> (what feels like a lifetime ago), warning was given<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> potential for an active season. Everything pointed to prime conditions for fairly frequent tropical<br />

activity. What I did not anticipate was <strong>the</strong> busiest tropical season on record! In fact, <strong>the</strong> <strong>2020</strong> tropical<br />

Atlantic season provided us with many record breaking systems. Let’s take a look back and reflect on<br />

what occurred this year.<br />

A Record Breaker<br />

<strong>2020</strong> hurricane season was <strong>the</strong> busiest in history.<br />

By Paul Wilkerson<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 15

The <strong>2020</strong> season got <strong>of</strong>f to a blistering start on May<br />

14 with <strong>the</strong> birth <strong>of</strong> Arthur. During <strong>the</strong> period <strong>of</strong> May to<br />

July, a record nine storms formed in <strong>the</strong> Atlantic. Tropical<br />

Storm Cristobal would be <strong>the</strong> first <strong>of</strong> five tropical systems<br />

to strike <strong>the</strong> state <strong>of</strong> Louisiana during <strong>the</strong> season, making<br />

landfall <strong>the</strong>re on June 7. The first hurricane <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> season<br />

would be Hanna, which developed on July 19 in <strong>the</strong> Gulf<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mexico, making landfall in Texas on July 25.<br />

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> would have <strong>the</strong>ir closest<br />

encounter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> season on July 30, as Hurricane Isaias<br />

moved south and southwest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands. Isaias wreaked<br />

havoc across <strong>the</strong> Caribbean and <strong>the</strong> United States, causing<br />

an estimated $165 million in damage to <strong>the</strong> Lesser<br />

Antilles, Dominican Republic and The Bahamas. The<br />

United States saw nearly $4.5 billion in damages thanks to<br />

Isaias. Unfortunately two lives were lost in <strong>the</strong> Dominican<br />

Republic as a result <strong>of</strong> this hurricane as well.<br />

Late August through early October would prove to<br />

be <strong>the</strong> most active time period for tropical activity during<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>2020</strong> season. Activity historically peaks during <strong>the</strong><br />

month <strong>of</strong> September. Unfortunately, this period also coincided<br />

with <strong>the</strong> worst land-falling hurricanes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> season<br />

in <strong>the</strong> United States. Major Hurricane Laura (Catagory 4)<br />

came ashore in southwest Louisiana on August 27, causing<br />

extensive damage to <strong>the</strong> lowlands <strong>of</strong> south Louisiana<br />

and <strong>the</strong> Lake Charles area.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> season cruised into September, a record ten<br />

named storms formed. This also served as <strong>the</strong> most<br />

named storms in any month on record. Thankfully, <strong>the</strong><br />

majority <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong> systems that formed in September<br />

stayed out to sea. The exceptions were Hurricane Nana<br />

which struck Honduras and Belize, Hurricane Sally which<br />

moved through The Bahamas and sou<strong>the</strong>ast United<br />

States, and Tropical Storm Beta which made landfall<br />

along <strong>the</strong> Texas coast. Louisiana had ano<strong>the</strong>r date with<br />

disaster as Hurricane Delta made landfall on October 9<br />

as a Category 2, at an estimated 15 miles east <strong>of</strong> where<br />

Category 4 Laura earlier struck. Having already been<br />

severely damaged during Laura, many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se same<br />

areas were fur<strong>the</strong>r destroyed by Delta.<br />

Five systems formed during <strong>the</strong> month <strong>of</strong> October,<br />

with Cancun, Mexico being impacted from three tropical<br />

systems. Tropical Storm Gamma, Hurricane Delta<br />

and Hurricane Zeta all brought heavy rains, damaging<br />

winds and flooding to <strong>the</strong> Mexican peninsula. Hurricane<br />

Eta formed on <strong>the</strong> last day <strong>of</strong> October and proved to be<br />

<strong>the</strong> most interesting system in terms <strong>of</strong> track. Eta began<br />

near <strong>the</strong> Windward <strong>Islands</strong>, <strong>the</strong>n made its way to a landfall<br />

in Nicaragua, where it caused severe flooding and<br />

killed more than 178 people across Central America.<br />

Eta emerged back into <strong>the</strong> Caribbean Sea and tracked<br />

nor<strong>the</strong>ast across portions <strong>of</strong> Cuba before temporarily<br />


16 www.timespub.tc

moving west into <strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico where it impacted<br />

<strong>the</strong> Cayman <strong>Islands</strong>. Eta would finally make a last turn<br />

to <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>ast and impact Florida north <strong>of</strong> Tampa Bay<br />

before heading out to sea once again <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> east coast<br />

<strong>of</strong> Florida.<br />

November started <strong>of</strong>f with Hurricane Eta still causing<br />

issues, followed by <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> Tropical Storm<br />

Theta on November 10 and <strong>the</strong> season’s most powerful<br />

hurricane. Category 5 Hurricane Iota formed on<br />

November 13 in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean Sea and became one <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> fastest-streng<strong>the</strong>ning hurricanes on record. It made<br />

landfall on November 14 as a Category 4 hurricane, a<br />

mere 15 miles from where Hurricane Eta made landfall.<br />

This proved to be catastrophic for Nicaragua, as many<br />

locations were still suffering terribly from Eta that had<br />

hit two weeks prior on <strong>the</strong> November 3. Severe flooding,<br />

mudslides and heavy rainfall again impacted <strong>the</strong> region,<br />

killing at least 54 people. Hurricane Iota would prove to<br />

be <strong>the</strong> last tropical system <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>2020</strong> hurricane season.<br />

The hurricane season that was <strong>2020</strong> will possibly<br />

stand in <strong>the</strong> record books for many, many years. So<br />

many records were broken this season that it is hard<br />

to assess <strong>the</strong>m all! Twelve storms hit U.S. shores. Five<br />

systems struck Louisiana alone. There were thirteen hurricanes<br />

this season, while <strong>the</strong> average is six. Six major<br />

hurricanes formed in <strong>2020</strong>, with three being <strong>the</strong> average<br />

per season. A total <strong>of</strong> thirty named storms was a record.<br />

The National Hurricane Center had to utilize <strong>the</strong> Greek<br />

alphabet to name <strong>the</strong>m all for only <strong>the</strong> second time in history.<br />

There were ten named storms formed in September<br />

alone, which was a record. The <strong>2020</strong> season will also go<br />

down as <strong>the</strong> fifth consecutive above-normal season.<br />

For those who call <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> home, I<br />

hope you can appreciate just how blessed <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> are<br />

considering what <strong>the</strong> hurricane season brought this year.<br />

Aside from increased wave action, a few squalls from<br />

Hurricane Isaias as it passed by and breezy conditions,<br />

<strong>the</strong> TCI survived <strong>the</strong> worst <strong>the</strong> Atlantic could throw at <strong>the</strong><br />

Caribbean this year.<br />

While we don’t know what <strong>the</strong> 20<strong>21</strong> hurricane season<br />

has on tap for now, make sure to take <strong>the</strong> time to assess<br />

your hurricane preparedness now, so you will be ready<br />

when <strong>the</strong> season comes around again next year. a<br />

Paul Wilkerson is an American meteorologist and tourist<br />

who frequents <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Along with<br />

his wife and two daughters, <strong>the</strong> Wilkersons stay actively<br />

engaged with Islanders throughout <strong>the</strong> year with his<br />

Facebook page Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Wea<strong>the</strong>r Info.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 17


talking taíno<br />

Opposite page: The headdress worn by this cacique was made <strong>of</strong> brightly colored bird fea<strong>the</strong>rs. On December 30, Guacanagarí removed <strong>the</strong><br />

“crown” from his head and placed on Columbus’s head.<br />

Above: The Santa María sunk <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> Haiti on Christmas Eve, 1492.<br />

America’s First Christmas<br />

For Columbus, <strong>the</strong> holiday did not bring “glad tidings!”<br />

‘Twas <strong>the</strong> night before Christmas<br />

Christmas Eve, 1492, sailing with a light wind, <strong>the</strong> Niña and Santa María exit <strong>the</strong> Mar de Santo Thomás.<br />

At 11:00 PM, standing one league <strong>of</strong>f Punta Santa, <strong>the</strong>re was little wind, <strong>the</strong> sea was “as smooth as water<br />

in a bowl,” and <strong>the</strong> launches sent to <strong>the</strong> King’s village toward which he was heading had cleared <strong>the</strong><br />

route. Columbus went to bed. The sailor who was steering <strong>the</strong> Santa María also went <strong>of</strong>f to sleep and<br />

<strong>the</strong> tiller was left to a ship’s boy. The currents <strong>of</strong> water carried <strong>the</strong> ship—“so gently it was barely felt”—<br />

onto a sandbank. Awakened by “a sound that from a full league (about three miles) <strong>of</strong>f could be heard,”<br />

Columbus ordered <strong>the</strong> mast cut and <strong>the</strong> ship lightened, but it was too late. The Santa María was stuck<br />

fast and <strong>the</strong> planking opened up. Later, upon reflection, Columbus claimed that <strong>the</strong> shipwreck was <strong>the</strong><br />

will <strong>of</strong> God. The only mention <strong>of</strong> Christmas is <strong>the</strong> name for what was to be <strong>the</strong> first Spanish settlement,<br />

La Navidad (<strong>the</strong> nativity).<br />

By Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson, and Michael Pateman<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 19

and all through <strong>the</strong> house (caneye in Taíno) . . .<br />

At <strong>the</strong> archaeological site identified as La Navidad<br />

(En Bas Saline [EBS]) named for <strong>the</strong> modern Haitian town,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is evidence for house walls constructed <strong>of</strong> wattleand-daub<br />

(a network <strong>of</strong> interwoven sticks covered with<br />

mud or clay). The Taínos built tall, circular to oval houses<br />

with large wooden support posts and walls made <strong>of</strong><br />

smaller sticks. The Caneyes had high-pitched ro<strong>of</strong>s made<br />

<strong>of</strong> palm thatch, with an opening at <strong>the</strong> top to allow smoke<br />

to escape. The Spanish chronicler Bartolomé de las Casas<br />

described <strong>the</strong>se houses as large enough to accommodate<br />

40 to 60 people. Guacanagarí, <strong>the</strong> village chief (cacique)<br />

at la Navidad, gave Columbus two houses for his men,<br />

and promised more if needed.<br />

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.<br />

The common house mouse (Mus musculus) was introduced<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Caribbean <strong>Islands</strong> from Europe, so no mice<br />

were stirring in Taíno caneyes. In fact, mice have never<br />

been identified in any archaeological deposits. It is possible<br />

that <strong>the</strong>y did stowaway on Columbus’ vessels, based<br />

on solid evidence that a larger rodent arrived this day.<br />

The study <strong>of</strong> animal bones from La Navidad (EBS) identified<br />

<strong>the</strong> first appearance <strong>of</strong> Old World black rat (Rattus<br />

rattus). This introduced species was so common that its<br />

bones were present in two-thirds <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> archaeological<br />

excavation samples. Our colleague Kathy Deagan (Florida<br />

Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History) described <strong>the</strong>se as “<strong>the</strong> first<br />

rats to abandon a sinking ship in <strong>the</strong> Americas.”<br />

A common element <strong>of</strong> Christmas celebrations in<br />

Medieval Europe was sacrificing a wild boar. Pig bones<br />

have been recovered at EBS, although <strong>the</strong>y did not find<br />

a pig skull with an apple in its mouth. The presence <strong>of</strong><br />

rat and pig bones at archaeological sites throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

Americas mark <strong>the</strong> beginning <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> post-Columbian<br />

era. Rat bones also were found at site MC-32 on Middle<br />

Caicos which shows that Lucayans were living here after<br />

Europeans arrived. Lucayan sites were repeatedly abandoned<br />

and reoccupied so <strong>the</strong> bones provide important<br />

evidence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> timing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir last occupation.<br />

The stockings were hung by <strong>the</strong> chimney with care ...<br />

Columbus was a man <strong>of</strong> his times so we need to turn<br />

back to <strong>the</strong> 16th century. Gift giving was a Christmas tradition<br />

in Medieval Europe. Although instead <strong>of</strong> presents<br />

for children, royalty expected gifts from <strong>the</strong>ir subjects<br />

(read “tribute”). And gifts were not always exchanged on<br />

Christmas Day. Giving gifts was far more common on<br />

New Year’s Day. On December 30, after seating him on<br />

a dais <strong>of</strong> palmwood, Guacanagarí removed <strong>the</strong> “crown”<br />

from his head and placed on Columbus’s. The crown was<br />

probably made <strong>of</strong> brightly colored bird fea<strong>the</strong>rs, as is still<br />

<strong>the</strong> practice among Indigenous societies in Amazonia. In<br />

return, Columbus presented Guacanagarí with a necklace<br />

<strong>of</strong> fine agates and beautiful stones, a large silver ring, a<br />

cape made <strong>of</strong> fine red cloth, and colored high-laced shoes<br />

(and stockings?).<br />

in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be <strong>the</strong>re.<br />

We have reached <strong>the</strong> limit <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> torture we can<br />

impose on Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “A Visit from St.<br />

Nicholas.” Maybe we could find a way to tie in reindeer if<br />

we worked in circumpolar regions, but this is <strong>the</strong> tropics.<br />

Yet in <strong>the</strong> same way we look to <strong>the</strong> night sky to catch a<br />

glimpse <strong>of</strong> Santa and his sleigh, on that Christmas Eve <strong>the</strong><br />

view from Guacanagarí’s village <strong>of</strong>fered a similar vista.<br />

Dominating <strong>the</strong> night sky at its zenith on <strong>the</strong> celestial<br />

equator was <strong>the</strong> Orion constellation. Among <strong>the</strong> brightest<br />

stars in <strong>the</strong> night sky—Rigel, Bellatrix, Betelgeuse and<br />

Saiph—frame Orion’s belt (known today in Puerto Rico as<br />

“Los Tres Reyes Magos,” <strong>the</strong> three wise men or Magi).<br />

Orion is identified as <strong>the</strong> one-legged man in<br />

Indigenous South American mythology and as <strong>the</strong> hunter<br />

in modern astrology. His transit <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> night sky marks<br />

<strong>the</strong> passing <strong>of</strong> seasons between vernal to autumnal equinoxes.<br />

During archaeological research at <strong>the</strong> MC-6 site<br />

on <strong>the</strong> south coast <strong>of</strong> Middle Caicos, Dr. Shaun Sullivan<br />

demonstrated that stone alignments on <strong>the</strong> site were<br />

aligned to chart <strong>the</strong> summer solstice and <strong>the</strong> rising and<br />

setting <strong>of</strong> Orion’s brightest stars. Bill Keegan has asserted<br />

that <strong>the</strong> entire site is an on-<strong>the</strong>-ground representation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> constellation. All manner <strong>of</strong> seasonal events (rainy<br />

and dry wea<strong>the</strong>r, hurricanes, even fishing) could be predicted<br />

by reading <strong>the</strong> night sky.<br />

Christmas in Medieval Europe was celebrated for 12<br />

days, as reflected even today in song. Christmas lasted<br />

from <strong>the</strong> feast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Nativity (first noted as December<br />

25 on a Roman calendar from <strong>the</strong> fourth century) to <strong>the</strong><br />

Feast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Epiphany (<strong>the</strong> coming <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Magi on January<br />

6). So how did Columbus spend <strong>the</strong> holiday season?<br />

In <strong>the</strong> days leading up to Christmas, Columbus<br />

entered <strong>the</strong> Mar de Santo Thomás on <strong>the</strong> eponymous<br />

feast day. He was effusive in his praise, claiming first<br />

that <strong>the</strong> bay could hold “all <strong>the</strong> ships in Christendom” and<br />

20 www.timespub.tc

During archaeological research at <strong>the</strong> MC-6 site on Middle Caicos,<br />

Dr. Shaun Sullivan demonstrated that stone alignments on <strong>the</strong> site<br />

were aligned to chart <strong>the</strong> summer solstice and <strong>the</strong> rising and setting<br />

<strong>of</strong> Orion’s brightest stars. Bill Keegan has asserted that <strong>the</strong><br />

entire site is an on-<strong>the</strong>-ground representation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> constellation.<br />

All manner <strong>of</strong> seasonal events could be predicted by reading <strong>the</strong><br />

night sky.<br />


later all <strong>the</strong> ships in <strong>the</strong> world. Known today as <strong>the</strong> Baie<br />

de l’Acul, it is indeed a huge anchorage, albeit spoiled<br />

by a maze <strong>of</strong> shallow reefs and shoals. The inner harbor<br />

is six square miles in area and <strong>the</strong> outer roadstead twice<br />

that size. Today, <strong>the</strong> largest cruise ships in <strong>the</strong> world<br />

stop at <strong>the</strong> Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s watersports<br />

facility at Labadee. Columbus could see no villages along<br />

<strong>the</strong> shore, so he sent men to reconnoiter from higher<br />

ground. Beyond <strong>the</strong> harbor was a huge valley, all cultivated,<br />

and smoke from <strong>the</strong> villages, surrounded by very<br />

high mountains that “reach to <strong>the</strong> heavens, most beautiful<br />

and full <strong>of</strong> green trees.” At <strong>the</strong> mouth <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Baie<br />

de l’Acul, Columbus named <strong>the</strong> sandy islet, seemingly<br />

in <strong>the</strong> middle <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea, “Amiga” (today called Île à Rat).<br />

The Niña’s captain, Vicente Anes, claimed to have seen<br />

rhubarb growing on <strong>the</strong> island so Columbus sent a launch<br />

to collect this valuable Chinese medicinal herb (Rheum<br />

palmatum) prior to his departure.<br />

We conducted archaeological excavations on Amiga<br />

in <strong>the</strong> mid-1990s and found that it had been a fishing outpost<br />

with artifacts spanning hundreds <strong>of</strong> years, including<br />

a Spanish ladrillo (brick) on <strong>the</strong> surface. Our trips to and<br />

from this tiny cay showed us on a daily basis how difficult<br />

it was to travel to <strong>the</strong> east against prevailing winds and<br />

currents. Columbus departed at night for good reason.<br />

It has been suggested that <strong>the</strong> sinking <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Santa<br />

María was due to excessive partying by <strong>the</strong> crew on <strong>the</strong><br />

eve <strong>of</strong> Christmas. However, his son Ferdinand claimed<br />

that Columbus did not drink alcohol and it is in any<br />

event unlikely that <strong>the</strong> ships carried large quantities <strong>of</strong><br />

libations. After three months at sea and dealing with<br />

incessant visitors to <strong>the</strong> ships, an exhausted Columbus<br />

had let his guard down.<br />

When <strong>the</strong> Santa María ran aground near <strong>the</strong> village <strong>of</strong><br />

a powerful cacique (chief), Guacanagarí and his kin, weeping,<br />

consoled Columbus. Canoes were provided to salvage<br />

This 1856 painting, “The Inspiration <strong>of</strong> Christopher Columbus,” by<br />

Jose Obregon depicts <strong>the</strong> famous explorer as a young man who felt<br />

<strong>the</strong> call <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea at an early age.<br />

<strong>the</strong> vessel, houses to store <strong>the</strong> cargo, and <strong>the</strong>y were so<br />

efficient that not even one agujeta was lost. Known in<br />

English as a “lace-end,” <strong>the</strong>se small brass tips keep <strong>the</strong><br />

ends <strong>of</strong> a cord from fraying (like <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> a modern<br />

shoelace). They were enormously popular with <strong>the</strong> Taíno;<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are a common artifact in <strong>the</strong> contact period cemetery<br />

at El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba. Hawk’s bells, which were<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> trinkets (along with strings <strong>of</strong> glass beads)<br />

Columbus bestowed as gifts, were also highly prized by<br />

<strong>the</strong> Taínos, who called <strong>the</strong>m chuq chuque.<br />

Columbus named <strong>the</strong> sandy islet at <strong>the</strong> mouth <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Baie de l’Acul, Haiti, Amiga Island—today it is called Île à Rat.<br />

22 www.timespub.tc

TWATIMES_Layout 1 2/16/17 7:49 AM Page 1<br />


Small brass “Hawk’s bells” were one <strong>of</strong> Columbus’s highly prized gifts<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Taínos, who called <strong>the</strong>m chuq chuque.<br />

Columbus ordered <strong>the</strong> construction <strong>of</strong> a fortress,<br />

tower and moat. He noted that <strong>the</strong>se were not necessary<br />

among such a loving and gentle people, but <strong>the</strong> creation<br />

<strong>of</strong> a garrison would serve as a symbol <strong>of</strong> Spanish power.<br />

Such power was reinforced by displays <strong>of</strong> weaponry—firing<br />

guns and cannons—as well as a mock battle among<br />

his men. He chose 39 men to remain at la Navidad, and<br />

admonished <strong>the</strong>m to trade for gold and to find <strong>the</strong> gold<br />

mine. They would not survive <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

The men were left behind because only <strong>the</strong> Niña<br />

remained for <strong>the</strong> return voyage. Martín Alonso Pinzón,<br />

captain <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Pinta, had set <strong>of</strong>f on his own on November<br />

27 in search <strong>of</strong> an island called Baneque whose beaches<br />

reportedly were covered in gold. On December 27,<br />

Columbus was informed that <strong>the</strong> Pinta had been sighted<br />

at a harbor to <strong>the</strong> east. A week was spent on final preparations.<br />

They reunited two days later on January 6, <strong>the</strong><br />

Feast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Epiphany. Columbus makes no mention <strong>of</strong><br />

this holiest <strong>of</strong> days. He does describe his anger at <strong>the</strong><br />

mutinous Pinzón with his lame excuses, but also relief<br />

that Pinzón could not return to Spain without him to<br />

claim <strong>the</strong> glory.<br />

Whe<strong>the</strong>r or not he was <strong>the</strong> first to “discover” America,<br />

to <strong>the</strong> best <strong>of</strong> our knowledge Christopher Columbus was<br />

<strong>the</strong> first Christian to reach <strong>the</strong> Americas. His historic first<br />

Christmas in 1492 set <strong>the</strong> stage for <strong>the</strong> transformation <strong>of</strong><br />

human history. a<br />

Dr. Bill Keegan is Curator <strong>of</strong> Caribbean Archaeology at <strong>the</strong><br />

Florida Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History (University <strong>of</strong> Florida);<br />

Dr. Betsy Carlson is Senior Archaeologist at Sou<strong>the</strong>astern<br />

Archaeological Research (SEARCH, Inc.) in Jonesville, FL;<br />

and Dr. Michael Pateman is former Director <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos National Museum and currently Curator/Lab<br />

Director <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> AEX Maritime Museum on Grand Bahama.<br />

Serving international & domestic clients in real estate, property development,<br />

mortgages, corporate & commercial matters, immigration, & more.<br />


Taino Paintings<br />

by Theodore Morris<br />

tainopaintings.weebly.com<br />

mail:morris<strong>the</strong>odore@hotmail.com<br />

3910 Longhorn Dr - Sarasota, Fl34233<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 23

green pages<br />

Newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources<br />

Head <strong>of</strong>fice: Church Folly, Grand Turk, tel 649 946 2801 • fax 649 946 1895<br />

• Astwood Street, South Caicos, tel 649 946 3306 • fax 946 3710<br />

• National Environmental Centre, Lower Bight Road, Providenciales<br />

Parks Division, tel 649 941 5122 • fax 649 946 4793<br />

Fisheries Division, tel 649 946 4017 • fax 649 946 4793<br />

email environment@gov.tc or dema.tci@gmail.com • web https://www.gov.tc/decr/<br />

Young green turtles spend several years feeding and growing fat on <strong>the</strong> seagrass beds and tidal creeks within TCI’s RAMSAR site.<br />

Teenage Turtle Tales<br />

Using satellite telemetry to study <strong>the</strong> lives <strong>of</strong> sea turtles.<br />

Story & Photos By Dr. Peter Richardson and Amdeep Sanghera, Marine Conservation Society<br />

Earlier this year, we finally published <strong>the</strong> results <strong>of</strong> 18 years <strong>of</strong> sea turtle research carried out with our<br />

partners at <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Government’s Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources<br />

(DECR), <strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong> Exeter and a host <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r partners. There’s something very satisfying about<br />

publishing a scientific paper about satellite tracking sea turtles. The concise text, sharp figures and maps,<br />

extended bibliography and acknowledgements create ano<strong>the</strong>r neat little piece to be fitted into <strong>the</strong> enormous<br />

jigsaw puzzle that makes up our knowledge <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se fascinating marine reptiles. But <strong>the</strong> paper,<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r efficiently entitled “Spatial Ecology <strong>of</strong> Sub-Adult Green Turtles in Coastal Waters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks and<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>: Implications for Conservation Management,” only tells half <strong>the</strong> story.<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Dr. Peter Richardson (center) works with South Caicos fishermen Gilbert Jennings and Dave Clare to tag and release a turtle for tracking.<br />

Gilbert and Dave have fished TCI waters for decades, and taught <strong>the</strong> researchers everything <strong>the</strong>y needed to know about catching turtles.<br />

Attaching a tag to a turtle in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> and <strong>the</strong>n tracking it is no simple task—it takes<br />

a lot <strong>of</strong> effort, time, patience, people, learning, money,<br />

project partners’ support and skill, as well as a heap <strong>of</strong><br />

anxious hope when you finally release <strong>the</strong> turtle back<br />

where it came from with thousands <strong>of</strong> dollars worth <strong>of</strong><br />

tech on its shell. Occasionally, when <strong>the</strong> tag malfunctions<br />

soon after release, and you receive no data from <strong>the</strong> orbiting<br />

satellites—all <strong>of</strong> that effort, time, money and worry<br />

amounts to nothing— that is a gut wrenching feeling, we<br />

can tell you. But it is far outweighed by <strong>the</strong> majority <strong>of</strong><br />

successful tags that have provided incredible insights<br />

into <strong>the</strong> submarine behaviours <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se ancient animals<br />

that have outlasted <strong>the</strong> dinosaurs. Through live-tracking<br />

turtles you can literally experience scientific discovery as<br />

it happens—and that feels magical!<br />

At <strong>the</strong> Marine Conservation Society (MCS) we have<br />

been using satellite telemetry to study <strong>the</strong> lives <strong>of</strong> sea<br />

turtles with our partners at <strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong> Exeter since<br />

2005, when toge<strong>the</strong>r we attached a tag to Malliouhana,<br />

<strong>the</strong> huge lea<strong>the</strong>rback turtle after she nested in Anguilla,<br />

and who went on to migrate to Canada’s waters and back.<br />

Since <strong>the</strong>n we tracked adult female green turtles from<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir nesting beach in Sri Lanka, and more recently we<br />

have tracked green and hawksbill turtles in <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> as part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI Turtle Project. This last<br />

paper focused on <strong>the</strong> tracking <strong>of</strong> 16 sub-adult (or teenage)<br />

green turtles captured while foraging in <strong>the</strong> North,<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

This map shows <strong>the</strong> migrations <strong>of</strong> four tagged green turtles—Gilbert, Karman and <strong>the</strong> two that migrated to Cuba.<br />

Middle and East Caicos Nature Reserve. The area is an<br />

internationally recognised RAMSAR site, protected for its<br />

complex and productive mosaic <strong>of</strong> wetlands, tidal creeks<br />

and seagrass meadows and <strong>the</strong> fantastic wildlife that <strong>the</strong>y<br />

support, including an abundance <strong>of</strong> green turtles.<br />

This satellite tracking research, combined with our<br />

ongoing flipper-tagging programme, has highlighted how<br />

important this protected area is to regional green turtle<br />

populations. Young green turtles spend several years<br />

feeding and growing fat on <strong>the</strong> seagrass beds and tidal<br />

creeks within <strong>the</strong> RAMSAR site. One flipper-tagged turtle<br />

spent at least five years <strong>the</strong>re, from when we first caught,<br />

measured, tagged and released it, to when we eventually<br />

recaptured it, measured it and released it again. No<br />

doubt <strong>the</strong>y stay <strong>the</strong>re for much longer than that, between<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir arrival from <strong>the</strong> open ocean as dinner-plate sized<br />

youngsters, until <strong>the</strong>ir eventual departure as large, bulky<br />

teenagers.<br />

Twelve <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sixteen satellite tagged teenage turtles<br />

spent <strong>the</strong> entire time <strong>the</strong>y were tracked within <strong>the</strong> site,<br />

most not straying too far from where we captured <strong>the</strong>m,<br />

while three o<strong>the</strong>rs spent at least 9 months <strong>the</strong>re before<br />

eventually migrating away. The o<strong>the</strong>r turtle headed <strong>of</strong>f 13<br />

days after it was tagged and released, so we were lucky<br />

to catch it before it departed! The productive habitats<br />

within <strong>the</strong> RAMSAR marine protected area clearly provide<br />

crucial foraging grounds for <strong>the</strong>se growing turtles. From<br />

our previous genetic research we know that <strong>the</strong>se turtles<br />

mostly originate from nesting beaches used by <strong>the</strong> larger<br />

nesting populations in Costa Rica, Florida and Mexico,<br />

so <strong>the</strong> RAMSAR site, managed and protected by <strong>the</strong> TCI<br />

Government, is regionally important for <strong>the</strong> conservation<br />

<strong>of</strong> Caribbean green turtles.<br />

So four <strong>of</strong> our sixteen tracked teenage turtles<br />

migrated away from <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, and<br />

when this happens our inner turtle-nerdery comes to <strong>the</strong><br />

fore. We check <strong>the</strong> data maps relayed by satellite on a<br />

daily basis, get excited when <strong>the</strong>y arrive at <strong>the</strong> shores <strong>of</strong><br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r country, and <strong>the</strong>n worry about <strong>the</strong>m all <strong>the</strong> while<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are <strong>the</strong>re . . . “Will <strong>the</strong>y get caught in a fisherman’s<br />

net today?”<br />

At least one <strong>of</strong> us was present at every tracked turtle’s<br />

capture, tagging and release, working closely with<br />

our turtle fishermen friends Gilbert Jennings and Dave<br />

26 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Clare from South Caicos. Gilbert and Dave are experts at<br />

what <strong>the</strong>y do, having fished TCI waters for decades, and<br />

have taught us both an awful lot, including how to catch<br />

turtles. From capture to release, <strong>the</strong> turtles are treated<br />

with greatest care and respect, and in <strong>the</strong> short time <strong>the</strong><br />

turtles grace us with <strong>the</strong>ir company, we almost feel like<br />

we get to know <strong>the</strong>m—we even give <strong>the</strong>m names.<br />

Take Karman for example, named after Amdeep’s<br />

niece. Karman was one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> bigger turtles—captured by<br />

Amdeep, Gilbert and Dave on Boxing Day 2012. For more<br />

than nine months after release, Karman stayed well within<br />

<strong>the</strong> RAMSAR site, munching on seagrass and getting fat,<br />

<strong>the</strong>n one day she decided to go. We have absolutely<br />

no idea how she decided it was time to move on, but<br />

once <strong>the</strong> decision had been made <strong>the</strong>re was no turning<br />

back. Karman swam south, arrived at <strong>the</strong> shores <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Dominican Republic, and headed west along <strong>the</strong> shores<br />

<strong>of</strong> Haiti. Our hearts were in our mouths, for we knew<br />

that delicious green turtle meat is a favourite in those<br />

countries. But she safely passed through <strong>the</strong> Windward<br />

Passage between Haiti and neighbouring Cuba and <strong>the</strong>n<br />

headed due south again, crossing <strong>the</strong> Caribbean Sea<br />

and arriving at <strong>the</strong> shores <strong>of</strong> Colombia near Cartagena.<br />

From <strong>the</strong>re she headed west for about 600 miles along<br />

<strong>the</strong> coasts <strong>of</strong> Panama and Costa Rica before doing an<br />

abrupt about-turn and heading back to a foraging ground<br />

in Colombia’s inshore waters, where she stayed for five<br />

months before her tag ceased transmissions.<br />

We believe we recorded Karman’s “developmental<br />

migration,” a <strong>the</strong>oretical journey rarely recorded, that<br />

green sea turtles take between <strong>the</strong>ir juvenile foraging<br />

grounds and <strong>the</strong> adult foraging grounds where <strong>the</strong>y<br />

will likely spend <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir lives in between <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

breeding migrations. Why did she travel <strong>the</strong> extra 1,200<br />

mile swim to Costa Rica and back? We don’t know. We do<br />

know that many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> juvenile green turtles in TCI waters<br />

originate from Costa Rica’s beaches, and we know that<br />

green turtles eventually return to breed on a beach close<br />

to where <strong>the</strong>y <strong>the</strong>mselves hatched decades earlier. We<br />

think that <strong>the</strong> developmental migration places <strong>the</strong> turtle<br />

on an adult feeding ground much closer to <strong>the</strong> breeding<br />

grounds to reduce <strong>the</strong> distance <strong>the</strong> turtles must migrate<br />

for <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir adult lives when <strong>the</strong>y breed. Maybe<br />

Karman was just checking out <strong>the</strong> route to her breeding<br />

grounds for when she has to make that journey in a few<br />

years’ time?<br />

A green sea turtle swims with a TCI Turtle Project tracking device<br />

attached to its shell.<br />

This thinking is backed up by <strong>the</strong> return <strong>of</strong> TCI turtle<br />

flipper tags we have received from elsewhere—five turtles<br />

originally flipper-tagged by us on <strong>the</strong> Caicos Bank<br />

have been caught by fishermen on <strong>the</strong> vast seagrass<br />

meadows <strong>of</strong> Nicaragua, some 900 miles away from TCI<br />

as <strong>the</strong> crow flies. We know from o<strong>the</strong>r tracking projects<br />

that, just as <strong>the</strong> RAMSAR site provides important juvenile<br />

foraging habitat for <strong>the</strong> Costa Rican nesting populations,<br />

Nicaragua’s seagrass meadows provide key adult<br />

foraging habitat for <strong>the</strong>m too. Seems like many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

young green turtles we see in TCI’s waters will eventually<br />

migrate to Nicaragua, where, incidentally, <strong>the</strong>re is a turtle<br />

fishery that catches an estimated 11,000 green turtles for<br />

consumption each year.<br />

Of <strong>the</strong> three o<strong>the</strong>r satellite-tagged teenage turtles that<br />

migrated from TCI, two arrived at Cuba’s nor<strong>the</strong>rn coastal<br />

waters before <strong>the</strong>ir transmissions abruptly ceased. One<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se turtles was named David after Dave Clare <strong>the</strong><br />

fisherman. We will never know why <strong>the</strong>se turtles went<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

and, importantly, <strong>the</strong>ir conservation<br />

needs. The health <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

protected RAMSAR site on <strong>the</strong><br />

Caicos Banks is crucial for turtles<br />

and many o<strong>the</strong>r species,<br />

as is <strong>the</strong> health <strong>of</strong> a whole network<br />

<strong>of</strong> marine protected areas<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

That is why, through our UK<br />

Overseas Territories (UKOTs)<br />

Conservation Programme, we<br />

are working closely with partners<br />

in <strong>the</strong> TCI and <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Caribbean UKOTs to ensure<br />

that <strong>the</strong> management, monitoring<br />

and enforcement <strong>of</strong> marine<br />

protected areas such as this<br />

special RAMSAR site are properly<br />

supported and resourced.<br />

This research wouldn’t<br />

have been possible without <strong>the</strong><br />

generous support <strong>of</strong> many individuals<br />

and organisations. We<br />

received much-needed funding<br />

from <strong>the</strong> People’s Trust for<br />

Endangered Species, <strong>the</strong> British<br />

Chelonia Group, <strong>the</strong> National<br />

The TCI’s RAMSAR site is regionally important to <strong>the</strong> conservation <strong>of</strong> Caribbean green turtles.<br />

Marine Aquarium, Amanyara,<br />

quiet, but illegal turtle fishing is rampant in Cuba since it Princess Yachts, Big Blue Unlimited, Surfside Academy<br />

was criminalised back in 2008, so we think <strong>the</strong>y may well and <strong>the</strong> NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship. We were<br />

have been caught. Ano<strong>the</strong>r turtle named after Gilbert <strong>the</strong> also supported by many individuals including Anne and<br />

fisherman headed north, swimming through <strong>the</strong> Bahamas Simon Notley, <strong>the</strong> Blavatnik Family, <strong>the</strong> Wiese Family, <strong>the</strong><br />

and <strong>the</strong>n travelling up <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>astern coast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> USA Gerrity Family, Keith Anderson, Kenneth De Regt and<br />

before catching <strong>the</strong> Gulf Stream at North Carolina and Alison Overseth, Patrick and Linda Flockhart, Stephen<br />

heading out into <strong>the</strong> open ocean. After a few days in <strong>the</strong> Mering<strong>of</strong>f and Kim Charlton, Eiglys Trejo, Andrew Snead<br />

Gulf Stream—when his swimming speed went from about and Kathleen and Simon Wood. Thank you for enabling us<br />

50 km per day to about 90 km per day—he dropped out to better understand and hopefully better protect <strong>the</strong>se<br />

and started heading south back to <strong>the</strong> Bahamas before incredible creatures and <strong>the</strong>ir precious habitats.<br />

his tag ceased transmission. Who knows what Gilbert was A link to <strong>the</strong> new paper can be found at https://www.<br />

doing, but likely he was originally from one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> USA frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.<strong>2020</strong>.00690/<br />

nesting beaches and he was looking for suitable adult full. a<br />

foraging ground nearby. Maybe he settled in <strong>the</strong> Bahamas<br />

where <strong>the</strong>re are plenty <strong>of</strong> seagrass meadows.<br />

To find out more about our turtle research contact<br />

As with any good biological research, we have ended Amdeep Sanghera at amdeep.sanghera@mcsuk.org.<br />

up with more questions than answers, but <strong>the</strong>se teenage<br />

turtles have helped us understand <strong>the</strong>ir maritime lives<br />

28 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

The Piping Plover is a rare shorebird that migrates to <strong>the</strong> Caribbean for <strong>the</strong> winter, spending much time in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Coming Home to <strong>Winter</strong><br />

Shorebirds rebound after Hurricane Irma.<br />

By Eric F. Salamanca 4, 5 , Elise Elliot-Smith 1 , Caleb Spiegel 2 , Jen Rock 3 , Craig Watson 2 ,<br />

Bryan N. Manco 4 and Lormeka Williams 4<br />

Photos By Eric F. Salamanca 4, 5<br />

1<br />

USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Corvallis, Oregon, USA<br />

2<br />

US Fish & Wildlife Service, Hadley, Massachusetts, USA<br />

3<br />

Canadian Wildlife Service, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada<br />

4<br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Environment and Coastal Resources, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Government<br />

5<br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Energy and Utilities, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Government<br />

The Piping Plover is a rare shorebird that breeds in <strong>the</strong> United States and Canada and migrates to <strong>the</strong><br />

sou<strong>the</strong>rn US, Caribbean and Mexico for <strong>the</strong> winter. The International Union for <strong>the</strong> Conservation <strong>of</strong> Nature<br />

(IUCN) Red List has listed this bird as “Near Threatened,” while <strong>the</strong> US and Canada have it federally listed<br />

as “threatened/endangered.” <strong>Winter</strong>ing birds from US and Canada spend considerable time in <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, probably due to <strong>the</strong> favourable climate and habitats. Piping Plovers prefer mudflat and<br />

sandy beach habitats. Mudflats, also known as tidal flats, are coastal wetlands that appear when shallow<br />

flats are exposed by tides. These habitats were affected by Category Five Hurricane Irma in 2017.<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small<br />

migratory shorebird that nests on sandy and stony coastal<br />

beaches and feeds along beaches and nearby sand and<br />

mudflats. The Piping Plover’s diet includes marine worms,<br />

fly larvae, beetles, insects, crustaceans, mollusks and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r small invertebrates. When it spots prey, <strong>the</strong> plover<br />

will quickly run after it, stop suddenly and <strong>the</strong>n snatch it<br />

up.<br />

While <strong>the</strong> wintering habitat in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> remains in good condition for Piping Plover, <strong>the</strong><br />

population appeared to have declined in 2018 following<br />

<strong>the</strong> two major hurricanes that passed through <strong>the</strong><br />

territory in September 2017. The massive storms could<br />

have caused direct mortality or may have steered birds<br />

<strong>of</strong>f course, causing <strong>the</strong>m to winter elsewhere. In early<br />

<strong>2020</strong>, <strong>the</strong> total Piping Plover count was slightly over 140,<br />

<strong>the</strong> second highest since <strong>the</strong> survey count <strong>of</strong> 193 in early<br />

2017. It was noted that <strong>the</strong>re was a low count in 2018 (62<br />

birds) following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September<br />

2017. The lower count in 2018 is not totally attributed<br />

to Hurricane Irma because it may be due to shifts in use<br />

<strong>of</strong> habitats after hurricanes. It has been noted that <strong>the</strong><br />

Piping Plover has <strong>the</strong> propensity to use <strong>the</strong> same areas<br />

each winter, which include associated sand flats, smaller<br />

cays or multiple beaches.<br />

Surveys <strong>of</strong> wintering areas are vital for tracking population<br />

trends and informing full lifecycle conservation and<br />

management <strong>of</strong> declining and listed shorebirds. Fur<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

re-sighting <strong>of</strong> individually marked shorebirds can identify<br />

migratory connectivity and elucidate population dynam-<br />

ics, contributing to informed management. Since 2016,<br />

comprehensive shorebird surveys were conducted annually<br />

in TCI during January and February by an international<br />

team. Over 30 banded Piping Plovers were resighted,<br />

most banded at breeding sites from Newfoundland to<br />

New Jersey. Re-sights suggest that TCI’s wintering Piping<br />

Plovers are predominately from <strong>the</strong> Atlantic-nesting population,<br />

and TCI supports a minimum 5% <strong>of</strong> that population.<br />

Twenty-three shorebird species were documented,<br />

with substantial numbers <strong>of</strong> federally listed (US & Canada)<br />

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) and Rufa subspecies<br />

<strong>of</strong> Red Knot (Calidris canutus) and non-listed, but declining<br />

species such as Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus<br />

griseus). The largest concentrations were found in areas<br />

with minimal development and relatively undisturbed<br />

foraging and roosting habitat. Bands <strong>of</strong> four species <strong>of</strong><br />

individually-marked shorebirds were re-sighted—Piping<br />

Plover, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)<br />

and Sanderling (Calidris alba), connecting wintering<br />

areas to breeding and migratory stopover sites in North<br />

America.<br />

One area discovered to have multiple nearby sites<br />

used by a single flock is <strong>the</strong> large sandy flat area surrounding<br />

a cay on <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn end <strong>of</strong> South Caicos and<br />

McCartney Flats on <strong>the</strong> south side <strong>of</strong> East Caicos. Ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

area where two neighbouring sites are used by <strong>the</strong> same<br />

Piping Plovers is Conch Cay between Middle and North<br />

Caicos and East Bay Island National Park just <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>ast<br />

coast <strong>of</strong> North Caicos. The Piping Plover were also<br />

noted to be using three cays nor<strong>the</strong>ast <strong>of</strong> Providenciales:<br />

Piping Plover have <strong>the</strong> propensity to use <strong>the</strong> same areas each winter, which include sand flats, smaller cays or multiple beaches.<br />

30 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Dellis, Stubbs and Fort George. Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most important<br />

sites seemed relatively unchanged, but storm erosion<br />

can be insidious and is not readily apparent. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

most important shorebird sites in <strong>the</strong> TCI are a handful <strong>of</strong><br />

very remote, tidally exposed sand flats and a tiny island<br />

south <strong>of</strong> Middle Caicos. At this site <strong>the</strong>re is only a single<br />

small rocky area exposed during high tides and birds<br />

tend to roost in this spot until neighboring sand flats are<br />

exposed for feeding.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> five years <strong>of</strong> surveys, <strong>the</strong> team has observed<br />

approximately 80 bird species and approximately 13,000<br />

individual shorebirds, providing DECR and local partners<br />

much needed information to assist in managing <strong>the</strong> natural<br />

resources <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Conservation status<br />

The Piping Plover is globally threatened or endangered,<br />

depending on <strong>the</strong> breeding location, with fewer than<br />

9,000 individuals in <strong>the</strong> world. In <strong>the</strong> US Great Lakes<br />

region, it has been listed as “endangered” and it is considered<br />

“threatened” in <strong>the</strong> remainder <strong>of</strong> its US breeding<br />

range. In Canada, <strong>the</strong> Piping Plover is considered “endangered.”<br />

In <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, this bird is listed as<br />

“rare and endangered” (Wildlife and Biodiversity Protection<br />

Bill). It is globally recognized as “near-threatened” by <strong>the</strong><br />

International Union for <strong>the</strong> Conservation <strong>of</strong> Nature.<br />

Over 30 banded Piping Plovers have been resighted, most banded at<br />

breeding sites from Newfoundland to New Jersey.<br />

Threats<br />

Many anthropogenic activities can negatively affect Piping<br />

Plover populations in wintering areas. Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> main<br />

threats include human disturbance, habitat loss and predation.<br />

Human disturbance to roosting and feeding birds<br />

can be caused by an excessive number <strong>of</strong> human activities<br />

and certain types <strong>of</strong> recreational activities, such<br />

This team <strong>of</strong> international researchers has observed 80 bird species and 13,000 shorebirds over <strong>the</strong> last five years in TCI.<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

as all-terrain vehicles. Habitat may be lost or degraded<br />

by dredging activities, construction and installation <strong>of</strong><br />

structures including marinas, roads and swelling, oil<br />

spills and oil spill clean-up. Also, beach nourishment and<br />

storm water and wastewater discharge stabilization and<br />

cleaning may degrade shorebird habitat. Predation and<br />

disturbance by introduced animals such as feral cats and<br />

dogs can have direct and indirect effects on resting and<br />

feeding shorebirds.<br />

It was observed by <strong>the</strong> visiting researchers that a high<br />

tide roost known to support Piping Plover from last year,<br />

was empty <strong>of</strong> Piping Plovers this year, possibly due to <strong>the</strong><br />

impact <strong>of</strong> Hurricanes Irma and Maria.<br />

There is definitely a need to protect habitat and<br />

shorebirds in TCI. Tagging projects have highlighted <strong>the</strong><br />

fact that many Piping Plover return to <strong>the</strong> same winter<br />

location year after year. If we want this endangered and<br />

threatened bird to continue visiting <strong>the</strong> TCI, <strong>the</strong>re is a<br />

need to address <strong>the</strong> deterioration and destruction <strong>of</strong><br />

important bird habitat, including key roost sites where<br />

shorebirds rest and sand and mudflats where shorebirds<br />

feed. a<br />

For more information, contact Eric F. Salamanca at<br />

efsalamanca@gov.tc.<br />

There is a need to protect habitat in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> so we<br />

can continue to observe <strong>the</strong>se amazing shorebirds in action.<br />

32 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

“Splashing down” into <strong>the</strong> ocean opens up a world <strong>of</strong> wonders just as exciting as space exploration—and much more accessible!<br />

One Small Splash for Man<br />

SCUBA diving revolutionized ocean exploration for all.<br />

Story & Photos By Carmen Hoyt, Waterfront Assistant, The School for Field Studies<br />

Late one summer night, nearly 51 years ago, half a billion people watched in anticipation as Neil Armstrong<br />

was <strong>the</strong> first human to step onto <strong>the</strong> moon. An event embodied by <strong>the</strong> phrase “One small step for a man,<br />

one giant leap for mankind,” marked <strong>the</strong> climax <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> infamous space race playing out on (and beyond)<br />

<strong>the</strong> global stage.<br />

Less celebrated in pop culture, but equally as significant to <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> US space program<br />

was Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn and his spacecraft Friendship 7. In 1962, after three years <strong>of</strong> training,<br />

he was <strong>the</strong> first American to orbit <strong>the</strong> Earth not once but three times, spending nearly five hours appreciating<br />

our planet from afar. Upon his return later that day, Friendship 7 landed in <strong>the</strong> Atlantic Ocean<br />

just <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> Grand Turk, where Glenn was transported for medical testing before returning to <strong>the</strong><br />

States.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 33

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Even fur<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> public radar were Navy Lieutenant<br />

Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard. In<br />

a similar five-hour feat, <strong>the</strong>y became <strong>the</strong> first humans<br />

to venture into a different frontier, equally as alien but<br />

closer to home: <strong>the</strong> deepest depths <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ocean. Despite<br />

a series <strong>of</strong> non-essential instrument failures <strong>the</strong> morning<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> proposed dive, Walsh and Piccard took <strong>the</strong> bathyscaph<br />

(a deep-sea submarine <strong>of</strong> sorts) Trieste down into<br />

<strong>the</strong> Marianas Trench 220 miles <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> Guam<br />

and 35,856 feet below <strong>the</strong> surface, two years before <strong>the</strong><br />

launch <strong>of</strong> Friendship 7.<br />

What was <strong>the</strong> equivalent <strong>of</strong> a “small splash for<br />

man but a cannonball for mankind” never panned out<br />

into a dramatic show <strong>of</strong> technological will and military<br />

might, but it never<strong>the</strong>less captivated <strong>the</strong> minds <strong>of</strong> ocean<br />

explorers, scientists and engineers all over <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

Mankind’s quest to reach new heights is only paralleled<br />

by our desire to go deeper, stay longer and experience<br />

what we never have before. Ocean exploration shares its<br />

foundational values with space exploration, but has taken<br />

a backseat in political priorities. The responsibility has<br />

fallen on <strong>the</strong> people—<strong>the</strong> ones curious enough to ask<br />

questions and daring enough to find answers.<br />

Aboard <strong>the</strong> Trieste, Piccard describes watching bioluminescence<br />

at different points along <strong>the</strong> descent and <strong>the</strong><br />

shocking moment <strong>the</strong>y encountered a fish upon reaching<br />

<strong>the</strong> bottom. There had been previous debate as to<br />

whe<strong>the</strong>r or not fish could live that deep, demonstrating<br />

that <strong>the</strong>re was some type <strong>of</strong> deep ocean current supplying<br />

<strong>the</strong>se great depths with oxygen.<br />

In 2000, <strong>the</strong> US National Oceanographic and<br />

Atmospheric Administration claimed that as much as 95%<br />

<strong>of</strong> our oceans remain unexplored. More recently, over<br />

900 hours <strong>of</strong> video footage from sea floor mapping collected<br />

during 2015 and 2017 captured 347,000 creatures<br />

from <strong>the</strong> deep sea, less than 20% <strong>of</strong> which could be identified.<br />

In 2018, Salinas-de-León and a team <strong>of</strong> researchers<br />

found that a species <strong>of</strong> deep-sea skate, a relative to <strong>the</strong><br />

ray, was using warm water from hydro<strong>the</strong>rmal vents <strong>of</strong>f<br />

<strong>the</strong> Galapagos <strong>Islands</strong> to incubate its eggs. The discovery<br />

<strong>of</strong> such a nursery is important because hydro<strong>the</strong>rmal<br />

vents around <strong>the</strong> world are being targeted for mining,<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y are rich in mineral resources. There’s no telling<br />

what o<strong>the</strong>r surprises lay in <strong>the</strong> deep oceans waiting to be<br />

discovered, and it’s important we do so before <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

gone.<br />

While much <strong>of</strong> this “final frontier” lies in <strong>the</strong> deep<br />

sea, <strong>the</strong>re is plenty <strong>of</strong> exploring to be done in our own<br />

backyard. I would argue that <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

now play a much more important role in exploration than<br />

<strong>the</strong>y did in <strong>the</strong> 1960s, thanks to <strong>the</strong> invention <strong>of</strong> SCUBA<br />

(Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus).<br />

What we recognize as modern SCUBA equipment<br />

has its origins in 1943, decades before we dreamt <strong>of</strong> a<br />

space suit, yet a century after <strong>the</strong> first dive school was<br />

established by <strong>the</strong> Royal Navy in 1843. We can thank<br />

Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan for <strong>the</strong> original<br />

Aqualung, an apparatus combining <strong>the</strong> inventions <strong>of</strong><br />

a portable air tank and regulator that freed humans <strong>of</strong><br />

rudimentary dive suits weighing as much as 200 pounds.<br />

Though <strong>the</strong>se previous iterations captured <strong>the</strong> attention<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 1867 World’s Fair, it was Cousteau and Gagnan’s<br />

Aqualung and subsequent improvements that expanded<br />

<strong>the</strong> accessibility <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oceans from beyond military enterprises<br />

and into <strong>the</strong> recreational realm. The regulator, or<br />

breathing piece, was streamlined in 1952, followed by<br />

<strong>the</strong> first buoyancy control device, or jacket-type compensator,<br />

in <strong>the</strong> 1960s and improved upon by SCUBAPRO in<br />

1971. Slowly SCUBA-training organizations such as NAUI<br />

(1960) and PADI (1966) began to appear, all before man<br />

set foot on <strong>the</strong> moon.<br />

SCUBA divers are always hungry to expand <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

dive repertoire, and <strong>the</strong> 340 miles <strong>of</strong> reef <strong>of</strong>fered by <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos serve up something truly special. The<br />

secret recipe? An exciting mixture <strong>of</strong> underwater geological<br />

features and charismatic megafauna. A huge draw<br />

to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> is wall diving, and several <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> top dive<br />

sites <strong>of</strong>fer this opportunity. The walls are just as <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

name suggests: vertical slabs <strong>of</strong> rock that plunge anywhere<br />

from 40 feet to 7,000 feet down, though you will<br />

need special training to go anywhere beyond <strong>the</strong> PADI<br />

Advanced Open Water limits <strong>of</strong> 100 feet. Dive sites like<br />

<strong>the</strong>se can be found virtually all over <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, including<br />

Providenciales, West Caicos, South Caicos and Grand<br />

Turk.<br />

Besides <strong>the</strong> walls, it’s not uncommon to find canyons,<br />

cracks in <strong>the</strong> wall, and a few interesting wrecks. A mixture<br />

<strong>of</strong> hard corals, s<strong>of</strong>t corals and sponges grow along<br />

<strong>the</strong> wall, making for intricate hiding and feeding spots for<br />

various marine life. TCI waters have been known to host<br />

sharks, dolphins, whales (seasonally) and spotted eagle<br />

rays, to name a few.<br />

34 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Students at The School for Field Studies in South Caicos employ SCUBA diving to do data collection and research that ultimately helps to<br />

sustainably manage <strong>the</strong> local ecosystem.<br />

The best time to go diving is . . . well, all <strong>the</strong> time.<br />

While late summer months bring calmer seas and better<br />

visibility, hurricane season is a factor. During this time,<br />

water temperatures peak at 86ºF (30ºC), but <strong>the</strong>y drop to<br />

about 75ºF (24ºC) in January when sea conditions can be<br />

a bit choppier.<br />

At The School for Field Studies’ Center for Marine<br />

Resource Studies on South Caicos, university students<br />

participate in an exploration <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir own. They have <strong>the</strong><br />

opportunity to become PADI Open Water and Advanced<br />

Open Water certified divers. We aim to equip <strong>the</strong>m with<br />

<strong>the</strong> necessary skills to meld SCUBA diving into <strong>the</strong>ir recreational<br />

and scientific endeavors.<br />

Here on <strong>the</strong> “Big South,” we are lucky to have exciting<br />

dive sites along <strong>the</strong> wall, one <strong>of</strong> which contains wing<br />

wreckage from an old airplane. SCUBA has become an<br />

important tool for our young scientists to collect data,<br />

and many <strong>of</strong> our long-term projects would not have been<br />

possible without <strong>the</strong> necessary training and equipment.<br />

Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se projects include coral monitoring and fish<br />

surveys. Students use SCUBA to assess coral diversity,<br />

bleaching status and disease progression as well as identify<br />

and tally reef fish abundance. This data is used to help<br />

<strong>the</strong> community identify and implement tools to sustainably<br />

manage <strong>the</strong> local ecosystem. Snorkeling has been<br />

equally as important in data collection and an excellent<br />

way to get out and see <strong>the</strong> wonders below <strong>the</strong> surface.<br />

If you would like to participate in your own ocean<br />

exploration, <strong>the</strong>re are a few things to consider. Read up<br />

on <strong>the</strong> health risks associated with SCUBA diving and<br />

consult your doctor to make sure you are fit for such an<br />

activity. Underlying respiratory and cardiac illnesses are<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten barriers to diving but will not necessarily hold you<br />

back from snorkeling. Always be aware <strong>of</strong> surrounding<br />

ocean conditions and be sure to participate in <strong>the</strong> necessary<br />

training before attempting any new dives. There are<br />

a variety <strong>of</strong> centers certified to teach diving or lead snorkeling<br />

trips scattered across <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>,<br />

and <strong>the</strong>y can always help refresh or advance your skills<br />

if you have been previously certified. If you own your<br />

own gear, be sure to keep up on maintenance or have it<br />

checked prior to use if it has been sitting for a while.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> modern SCUBA, Jacques-Yves<br />

Cousteau, once said: “The sea, once it casts its spell,<br />

holds one in its net <strong>of</strong> wonder forever.” So, what will you<br />

discover beneath <strong>the</strong> waves? a<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 35

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

This Google Earth imagery (above) shows <strong>the</strong> area where Sentinel 2 satellite imagery (opposite page) was analysed to categorize vegetative<br />

habitats.<br />

Plotting for Progress<br />

Project increases mapping capacity with multiple uses.<br />

Story & Images By B Naqqi Manco, DECR Terrestrial Ecologist/Environmental Officer<br />

In March <strong>2020</strong>, <strong>the</strong> TCI Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources and partner organizations<br />

Environment Systems Ltd. (UK), Virgin <strong>Islands</strong> National Parks Trust (British Virgin <strong>Islands</strong>), and Joint<br />

Nature Conservation Committee (UK) completed <strong>the</strong> two-year project, “Mapping for Evidence-Based Policy,<br />

Recovery and Environmental Resilience.” The project was funded by <strong>the</strong> Darwin Plus grant programme<br />

under <strong>the</strong> UK Government’s Darwin Initiative, and its aim was to increase local capacity in <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> and British Virgin <strong>Islands</strong> through techniques training and building familiarity with open<br />

source mapping s<strong>of</strong>tware QGIS and similar programs.<br />

This developed skill set allows DECR to carry out manipulation <strong>of</strong> satellite imagery internally without<br />

requiring outside partners or contractors. Comparison <strong>of</strong> imagery over time with <strong>the</strong>se skills allows for<br />

evidence-based decision-making for environmental management and climate change resilience.<br />

36 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

In order to deliver <strong>the</strong> training, a series <strong>of</strong> workshops<br />

was focused on each participant developing <strong>the</strong>ir own<br />

practical projects over <strong>the</strong> project’s lifetime. The collaborative<br />

training workshops were held in Tortola, British<br />

Virgin <strong>Islands</strong> in December 2018 and Providenciales,<br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> in March 2019. A master class for<br />

selected participants was also held at <strong>the</strong> Environment<br />

online, long-term monitoring projects for mangroves, forests,<br />

beaches and coastlines, charcoal burning, carbon<br />

storage, ecosystem loss and species range predictability<br />

are possible.<br />

A foundation for a simplified terrestrial habitat map<br />

was also established, which can be updated by DECR<br />

internally using QGIS s<strong>of</strong>tware. The project also made<br />

Systems Ltd. headquarters in Aberystwyth, Wales in June<br />

2019. Separate follow-up workshops were held in Tortola<br />

and Providenciales in February <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Within <strong>the</strong> TCI, staff members from both <strong>the</strong><br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Survey and Mapping and Department <strong>of</strong><br />

Disaster Management and Emergencies also participated<br />

in <strong>the</strong> training. Exposure to <strong>the</strong> wildly different terrains<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> steeply-sloped, 500 meter high British Virgin<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> and <strong>the</strong> low, flat, rolling Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

allowed expert Environment Systems and JNCC trainers to<br />

show participants how <strong>the</strong> same techniques can be used<br />

regardless <strong>of</strong> terrain, but also how to finely-tune interpretation<br />

<strong>of</strong> imagery data in <strong>the</strong>ir respective territories.<br />

The training sessions mainly focused on teaching<br />

<strong>the</strong> use <strong>of</strong> open-source Geographic Information System<br />

(GIS) s<strong>of</strong>tware QGIS. This free program, under constant<br />

improvement by users, allows <strong>the</strong> DECR to use high quality<br />

mapping s<strong>of</strong>tware without having to pay and renew<br />

costly annual licensing fees. Using satellite imagery purchased<br />

by <strong>the</strong> project and open-source imagery available<br />

possible collection and interpretation <strong>of</strong> satellite imagery<br />

and field-collected data from shallow marine areas, which<br />

brilliantly complement <strong>the</strong> concurrent “Developing Marine<br />

Spatial Planning (MSP) Tools for Turks & Caicos” project<br />

between <strong>the</strong> South Atlantic Environmental Research<br />

Institute and DECR, also funded by Darwin Plus. The project<br />

also supplemented DECR’s capacity by supplying both<br />

hardware for data storage and manipulation and s<strong>of</strong>tware<br />

in <strong>the</strong> form <strong>of</strong> years’ worth <strong>of</strong> satellite imagery from several<br />

sources.<br />

Development <strong>of</strong> skills for mapping Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> terrestrial and marine areas and interpretation <strong>of</strong><br />

satellite imagery allows DECR and partner organizations<br />

to make solid, evidence-based environmental decisions,<br />

especially relating to recovery and resilience from hurricanes<br />

and o<strong>the</strong>r severe wea<strong>the</strong>r events related to climate<br />

change. DECR Director Lormeka Williams investigated<br />

<strong>the</strong> use <strong>of</strong> GIS and satellite imagery in mapping locations<br />

<strong>of</strong> illegal charcoal production in Providenciales. DECR<br />

Terrestrial Ecologist B Naqqi Manco generated habitat<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 37

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

prediction maps for a rare endemic taxon <strong>of</strong> Encyclia<br />

orchid, and was able to use <strong>the</strong> range limit to calculate a<br />

probable International Union for Conservation <strong>of</strong> Nature<br />

Red Data List status for <strong>the</strong> taxon. Demarco Williams,<br />

Assistant Director <strong>of</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Survey and Mapping,<br />

analysed pre- and post- 2017 hurricane imagery to understand<br />

impact and recovery <strong>of</strong> mangroves in South Creek,<br />

Grand Turk. While <strong>the</strong> training course focused on natural<br />

impact and recovery, Assistant Director Williams was<br />

also able to focus <strong>the</strong> techniques on tracking unlicensed<br />

development spread on Providenciales.<br />

Students <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> master class in Wales presented <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

projects to Hon. Ralph Higgs, TCI Minister <strong>of</strong> Tourism,<br />

Environment, Heritage, Maritime and Gaming in <strong>the</strong><br />

February <strong>2020</strong> follow-up meeting, demonstrating <strong>the</strong><br />

skills <strong>the</strong>y have acquired through <strong>the</strong> course.<br />

Following <strong>the</strong> completion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> courses, DECR team<br />

members have been able to use GIS for additional projects<br />

showing illegal development impact to Protected<br />

Areas, loss <strong>of</strong> habitat from land clearance and changes<br />

to land due to mining activity. These tools have resulted<br />

in stronger capacity to enforce environmental law and<br />

collaborate with o<strong>the</strong>r departments whose remits DECR’s<br />

overlaps in <strong>the</strong>se issues.<br />

With several o<strong>the</strong>r Darwin Plus projects underway and<br />

recently awarded funding, DECR is now far better suited<br />

to collaborations with international partners through<br />

<strong>the</strong>se projects, and <strong>the</strong> recurrent environmental responsibilities<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department. a<br />

From top: GIS Master Class participants from Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

and British Virgin <strong>Islands</strong> work through <strong>the</strong>ir projects with support<br />

from expert trainers at Environment Systems headquarters in<br />

Aberystwyth, Wales.<br />

Using QGIS to manipulate Sentinel 2 imagery from Pine Cay shows<br />

healthy, recovering Caicos pine forests (dark green-grey patch in centre<br />

<strong>of</strong> image) around <strong>the</strong> Diamond Jubilee Pine Yard.<br />

DECR Director Lormeka Williams learns to use a sounding device to<br />

collect data on underwater terrain in Tortola, British Virgin <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

38 www.timespub.tc


40 www.timespub.tc

feature<br />

Opposite page: You won’t leave Salt Cay without having a “donkey encounter.” These friendly beasts are <strong>the</strong> ancestors <strong>of</strong> donkeys who pulled<br />

carts <strong>of</strong> salt when <strong>the</strong> industry was booming.<br />

Above: This aerial shot shows <strong>the</strong> shark-tooth shape <strong>of</strong> Salt Cay, as <strong>the</strong> plane approachs from <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>ast. Balfour Town can be seen in <strong>the</strong><br />

distance.<br />


Back in Time<br />

Salt Cay is a remnant <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> “Old Caribbean.”<br />

By Debbie Manos<br />

One side effect <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> COVID-19 pandemic has been a corporate nostalgia for <strong>the</strong> past. The global<br />

upheaval and massive changes <strong>of</strong> <strong>2020</strong> have many yearning for <strong>the</strong> “good old days.”<br />

In <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, <strong>the</strong>re is a place referred to as “<strong>the</strong> island time forgot.” Besides being <strong>the</strong><br />

country’s smallest (2 1/2 by 3 miles) and sou<strong>the</strong>rnmost island, Salt Cay is much like <strong>the</strong> “Old Caribbean”<br />

<strong>of</strong> 30 years ago. As well, its amazing beauty if one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> best-kept secrets in <strong>the</strong> region, with miles <strong>of</strong><br />

white sandy beaches. Here, solitude and seclusion reign, with just enough activities available to pique<br />

your interest.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 41


There are no paved roads, and <strong>the</strong> “wild life” <strong>of</strong> donkeys,<br />

cows and chickens roam <strong>the</strong> island freely. There<br />

are one-<strong>of</strong>-a-kind historical buildings with lovely (and<br />

practical) Bermudian persuasion in <strong>the</strong>ir design. The people<br />

have a reputation for being <strong>the</strong> friendliest people in<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, and each new guest becomes a friend whose<br />

return is eagerly anticipated.<br />

With a population <strong>of</strong> only 75 (give or take a few),<br />

Salt Cay residents know <strong>the</strong> importance <strong>of</strong> helping each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r in times <strong>of</strong> need. When COVID-19 reached pandemic<br />

levels in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean it was mid-March <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

TCI Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, in conjunction<br />

with Governor HE Nigel Dakin quickly closed <strong>the</strong> domestic<br />

and international borders to protect <strong>the</strong> country’s most<br />

valuable resource—human lives. As a result, Salt Cay’s<br />

only industry <strong>the</strong>se days—tourism—came to a halt, resulting<br />

in a huge impact on <strong>the</strong> small businesses, as is true<br />

in <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

But Salt Cay resilient residents are familiar with<br />

challenges. Community members “circled <strong>the</strong> wagons”<br />

and did what <strong>the</strong>y do best—help each o<strong>the</strong>r. We quickly<br />

learned to “make do” with what we have on hand and get<br />

very creative—especially with cooking!<br />

Our community ferry was permitted to travel to Grand<br />

Turk to pick up supplies. A few people volunteered to<br />

order food for everyone who needed it and Jesrell from<br />

IGA packed up each individual order and delivered it to<br />

<strong>the</strong> ferry. Friends and family also dropped <strong>of</strong>f supplies for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir loved ones living seven miles across <strong>the</strong> ocean. In<br />

an island version <strong>of</strong> Uber Eats, volunteers would deliver<br />

orders to <strong>the</strong> homes and leave <strong>the</strong> boxes on <strong>the</strong> wall. This<br />

way, no one had physical contact with each o<strong>the</strong>r and<br />

socially distancing was very easy.<br />

There are no paved roads on Salt Cay and bicycles are <strong>the</strong> preferred<br />

mode <strong>of</strong> transport. The stone walls lining <strong>the</strong> salinas are hundreds<br />

<strong>of</strong> years old.<br />

As <strong>of</strong> press time (mid-December <strong>2020</strong>), Salt Cay<br />

remains COVID-19 free! People used to say we are an<br />

island <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> four Cs—no crime, no cruise ships, no casinos<br />

and no crowds . . . now we can add no COVID-19!<br />

Community members continue to be extremely cautious<br />

42 www.timespub.tc

1 (649) 342-3180<br />

North Caicos Island, TCI<br />

BottleCreekLodge.com<br />

BottleCreekLodge@gmail.com<br />

by masking up, hand sanitizing and social distancing.<br />

The business owners have made safety <strong>the</strong>ir number one<br />

priority in welcoming tourists back to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

when <strong>the</strong> Premier opened our borders on July 22, <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

In 2017, Salt Cay was hit by two Category 5 hurricanes—Irma<br />

and Maria. No lives were lost and no injuries<br />

sustained, as we believe in being well prepared. There<br />

was, however, substantial damage to buildings and infrastructure.<br />

Fortunately, in <strong>the</strong> last few years <strong>the</strong>re has<br />

been a tremendous amount <strong>of</strong> money invested into Salt<br />

Cay.<br />

The current government has provided funds to<br />

repair <strong>the</strong> Mary Robinson Primary School, <strong>the</strong> District<br />

Commissioner’s <strong>of</strong>fice, community shelters, cisterns,<br />

<strong>the</strong> salt shed, sea wall and numerous o<strong>the</strong>r projects. The<br />

latest improvment is <strong>the</strong> Salt Cay airport which recently<br />

opened and was <strong>of</strong>ficially named <strong>the</strong> Leon Wilson Airport.<br />

There was a ribbon cutting ceremony with <strong>the</strong> Premier and<br />

several cabinet members in attendance. It is a stunning<br />

new runway and apron, with space to park private planes<br />

and a newly fenced area, along with a remodeled airport<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 43


Salt Cay: Now and <strong>the</strong>n (inset).

On an early morning ramble on Salt Cay, photographer Marta<br />

Morton discovered this donkey wandering by <strong>the</strong> old stacked stone<br />

wall and colourful garden.<br />


terminal—still small and quaint. Herzog Construction<br />

completed <strong>the</strong> work and now we have a fresh new airport<br />

to greet all <strong>of</strong> our new and returning passengers.<br />

People <strong>of</strong>ten ask me, “What is <strong>the</strong>re to do on such<br />

a small island?” January 20<strong>21</strong> is <strong>the</strong> beginning <strong>of</strong> our<br />

Humpback whale season—much anticipated every year.<br />

Salt Cay Divers and Salt Cay Whale Adventures have new<br />

boats and excellent captains to take you on an adventure<br />

<strong>of</strong> a lifetime. Salt Cay is considered <strong>the</strong> country’s “whale<br />

headquarters” because <strong>the</strong> 7,000-foot deep Columbus<br />

Passage is located directly in front <strong>of</strong> Salt Cay. This is<br />

where <strong>the</strong> whales migrate on <strong>the</strong>ir way to warmer waters<br />

to mate, give birth and carry <strong>the</strong>ir young. (There is some<br />

evidence to suggest that <strong>the</strong> shallower water around Salt<br />

Cay has become a birthing area for <strong>the</strong> whales.) This is<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> last places in <strong>the</strong> world you can still swim with<br />

<strong>the</strong>se magnificent creatures.<br />

Salt Cay Divers will take you diving on some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

most pristine walls and reefs with brilliant sea fans, colorful<br />

corals and rocks teeming with fish. The island also<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers snorkeling directly from its beaches or aboard a<br />

boat trip to several nearby uninhabited islands. Salt Cay<br />

46 www.timespub.tc

is positioned perfectly to provide you with a variety <strong>of</strong> day<br />

trip opportunities, located just 7 miles from Grand Turk,<br />

22 miles from South Caicos and 7 miles from <strong>the</strong> bird<br />

sanctuary at Great Sand Cay.<br />

Speaking <strong>of</strong> which, Salt Cay’s bird population is<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r well-kept secret. We have over 36 species spotted<br />

here, including herons, egrets and ospreys. The flamingos<br />

have returned and are seen in <strong>the</strong> South Creek and<br />

South Pond area daily. They come over from Grand Turk<br />

to feed. (We say <strong>the</strong> food must be better here!)<br />

The most common means <strong>of</strong> transportation on Salt<br />

Cay are bicycles and golf carts. You can walk or ride to<br />

most any <strong>of</strong> our spectacular beaches. Hiking, biking and<br />

relaxing are very popular, as well as deep-sea, hand-line<br />

or bonefishing in <strong>the</strong> South Creek. Going on a historical<br />

walking tour, hunting for clams in <strong>the</strong> sand flats (<strong>the</strong>n<br />

having <strong>the</strong> local cafés cook <strong>the</strong>m for you) or “hunting”<br />

for shots on a photographic safari are just a few <strong>of</strong> many<br />

activities that folks find to do on Salt Cay.<br />

There are four bistros/cafés on-island, each with<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir own specialties. The island has four small stores for<br />

basics and most all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 14 different accommodations<br />



(Due to COVID restrictions, see in<br />

yellow <strong>the</strong> TCI FERRY SCHEDULE<br />

please visit www.tciferry.com or call<br />

(649) 946-5406 to confirm<br />

present schedule)<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 47


The beaches on Salt Cay are as lovely as any in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos, and always more deserted.<br />

available have some means <strong>of</strong> preparing your own meals<br />

when you’re not dining around tasting <strong>the</strong> local cuisine.<br />

We do not have any five-star hotels or fancy spas, but<br />

we DO have private one, two and three-bedroom villas<br />

or apartment-like options that are all quaint, clean, comfortable<br />

and <strong>of</strong>fer you a safe place to relax and rejuvenate<br />

your mind, body and soul.<br />

Once you experience Salt Cay you might be like many<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs and want to move here or spend <strong>the</strong> winter months<br />

on island to be out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cold. There are currently several<br />

oceanfront homes for sale at a fraction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cost<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r islands, as well as lovely homes in our small<br />

neighborhoods. Or, find <strong>the</strong> perfect plot <strong>of</strong> vacant land<br />

and build. The TCI Government is <strong>of</strong>fering purchases on<br />

Salt Cay to be charged only 6.5% stamp duty as a stimulus<br />

to boost our economy. O<strong>the</strong>r islands in <strong>the</strong> country have<br />

to pay as high as 10.5% . (TCI’s stamp duty is a one-time<br />

transfer tax. After that, <strong>the</strong>re are no property taxes.) So<br />

when you fall in love with Salt Cay, check with your local<br />

real estate agent to make Salt Cay your new home.<br />

We are open and ready for tourists to come and visit<br />

our magical little island. Hope to see you in Salt Cay soon.<br />

a<br />

48 www.timespub.tc

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eal estate<br />

Opposite page and above: The safe, healthy, uncrowded, “Beautiful by Nature” lifestyle possible in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> is attracting<br />

more and more people from around <strong>the</strong> world. If you have <strong>the</strong> means and opportunity, who can resist?<br />


Living Outside <strong>the</strong> Box<br />

TCI’s sea, sand, sun and safety entices buyers.<br />

By Kathy Borsuk<br />

<strong>2020</strong> feels like a year <strong>of</strong> boxes. We’ve tried to stay in our “home” box as much as possible. We’ve communicated<br />

via our “phone” box or our “computer” box while peering at <strong>the</strong> boxes that hold our family,<br />

friends’ and colleagues’ faces. We’re entertained by looking at our “television” box or “tablet” box. We<br />

even worship by singing praises to <strong>the</strong> “screen” box that broadcasts our church service. And when we do<br />

move about, even our vision seems boxed-in by <strong>the</strong> masks on our faces.<br />

Now that <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> have reopened to tourism, I can tell from watching people’s faces<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y exit <strong>the</strong> airplane that <strong>the</strong>y realize <strong>the</strong>y have finally burst out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> “COVID-19 life” box and into<br />

a wide-open vista <strong>of</strong> sun, sand, sea and fresh air!<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 51

After closing its borders in late March, <strong>2020</strong> to<br />

slow <strong>the</strong> spread <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> COVID-19 virus, <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> reopened on July 22, <strong>2020</strong>, requiring<br />

all visitors and returning residents to secure a Travel<br />

Authorization document via <strong>the</strong> TCI Assured Portal at<br />

www.TurksAndCaicostourism.com. This requires a negative<br />

PCR COVID-19 test within five days <strong>of</strong> traveling and<br />

pro<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong> medical insurance.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> same time, TCI Government implemented strict<br />

protocols on <strong>the</strong> wearing <strong>of</strong> masks, social distancing,<br />

hand sanitizing, limiting <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> persons in buildings<br />

and at social ga<strong>the</strong>rings and nightly curfews. Details<br />

were fine-tuned based on <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> active cases <strong>of</strong><br />

COVID-19 at any given time. As a result <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se measures<br />

and extensive public testing and aggressive contact<br />

tracing, <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> cases <strong>of</strong> COVID-19 throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

TCI has been maintained at a very low number.<br />

TCI Government also introduced <strong>the</strong> TCI Assured<br />

Certification Program to serve as a symbol <strong>of</strong> compliance<br />

with all COVID-19 health protocols. The purpose is to give<br />

assurance to both visitors and residents that businesses<br />

are compliant with standards set by <strong>the</strong> Environmental<br />

Health Department in collaboration with <strong>the</strong> TCI Tourist<br />

Board, and that workers are trained, protocols are in place<br />

The TCI Assured Certification Program uses this symbol to assure<br />

visitors and residents that businesses are compliant with standards<br />

set by <strong>the</strong> Environmental Health Department in collaboration with <strong>the</strong><br />

TCI Tourist Board.<br />

and that <strong>the</strong>y are being implemented. Eligible businesses<br />

include accommodation providers, public transportation<br />

operators, restaurants, spas and <strong>the</strong> golf course. For<br />

more information on TCI’s response to <strong>the</strong> COVID-19<br />

pandemic, visit www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus/.<br />

The doors to <strong>the</strong> country opened wider when in<br />

mid-November <strong>2020</strong>, <strong>the</strong> United Kingdom added TCI<br />

back to its Travel Corridor List. This means that persons<br />

traveling to <strong>the</strong> UK from <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos will not have<br />

to self-isolate on return. In mid-December <strong>2020</strong>, <strong>the</strong><br />

United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) downgraded<br />

TCI’s COVID-19 risk rating to “Level 2 – Moderate<br />

Risk.”<br />

Earlier in <strong>the</strong> year, <strong>the</strong> World Travel and Tourism<br />

Council awarded TCI <strong>the</strong> “Safe Travels Stamp.” This<br />

denotes that <strong>the</strong> country’s existing safety protocols align<br />

with <strong>the</strong> WTTC’s core requirements, designed to standardize<br />

safe travel.<br />

Feedback from <strong>the</strong> steady stream <strong>of</strong> visitors that have<br />

come to TCI over <strong>the</strong> fall and early winter months <strong>of</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

reflects that <strong>the</strong>y feel protected without feeling like <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

vacation experience is compromised. Best <strong>of</strong> all, <strong>the</strong>se<br />

early arrivals enjoyed an especially quiet, peaceful atmosphere<br />

and careful, cautious, considerate service. TCI<br />

quickly became <strong>the</strong> perfect place to refresh and revive!<br />

By mid-December <strong>2020</strong>, occupancy rates in resorts<br />

topped 50% and were expected to continue to rise. Stays<br />

in private villas—<strong>the</strong> perfect place for a family or small<br />

group to social distance—were booming. The country’s<br />

largest resort, Beaches Turks & Caicos, reopened on<br />

December <strong>21</strong>, <strong>2020</strong>, utilizing a “Platinum Protocol <strong>of</strong><br />

52 www.timespub.tc

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 53


Is it any wonder that <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> has won <strong>the</strong> World Travel Award for “Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination” every year<br />

since 2015?


TCI’s “Out <strong>Islands</strong>,” including North Caicos (shown above) are replete with opportunity, as <strong>the</strong>y are much less developed than Providenciales.<br />

The lot marked above is in <strong>the</strong> Major Hill area <strong>of</strong> North Caicos. The surrounding area includes a vacation rental villa and residential homes.<br />

For more information, visit www.tcrea.com and reference MLS #2000436.<br />

Cleanliness.” These measures include inspecting, cleaning<br />

and sanitizing hard surfaces in common areas every<br />

20 minutes, adding auto-dispensing hand sanitizing<br />

stations throughout <strong>the</strong> resort, using hospital-grade disinfectants,<br />

electrostatic sprayers for advanced cleaning<br />

and air duct sanitization for each room before guests<br />

arrive.<br />

Realtors report an astounding volume <strong>of</strong> inquiries<br />

as people around <strong>the</strong> world—especially luxury buyers—<br />

search for a safe haven. Because <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos is<br />

a high-end, uncrowded, safe and secure destination,<br />

it fits <strong>the</strong> bill. TCI Government encouraged real estate<br />

purchases by implementing a 25% stamp duty relief on<br />

purchases closed by December 31, <strong>2020</strong>. This meant as<br />

much as a $6,000 saving on a $300,000 purchase and a<br />

$25,000 saving on a $1 million transaction!<br />

The Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association (TCREA)<br />

third quarter sales figures (based on MLS listings) indicate<br />

a strong and fundamentally healthy market, especially<br />

when compared to record sales in 2019. Noteworthy is<br />

that <strong>of</strong> $147 million in pending MLS sales, $80 million <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>se deals are expected to close before <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

year. This would bring projected annual total sales for<br />

<strong>2020</strong> to $273 million—approximately $10 million higher<br />

than 2018 year-end sales! Not bad for a year marked by<br />

great calamity and uncertainty!<br />

TCI continues to stand as a luxury destination, with<br />

<strong>the</strong> average home price now up to $2,032,666 and <strong>the</strong><br />

median price $1,100,000. Realtors note that TCI’s out<strong>of</strong>-country<br />

client base are still purchasing homes at <strong>the</strong><br />

higher end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> scale. In fact, <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos is a<br />

“beacon for luxury buyers seeking an escape,” attracting<br />

celebrities such as DJ Khaled, Jennifer Lopez and Alex<br />

Rodriguez.<br />

On <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r hand, during <strong>the</strong> third quarter <strong>of</strong> <strong>2020</strong>,<br />

condominium sales dropped. The average condo sales<br />

price went from $931,730 to $469,666, while <strong>the</strong> median<br />

price dropped from $690,000 to $350,000 and total sales<br />

dropped from $13,664,000 to $1,300,000. Realtors attribute<br />

this to limited resale opportunities, as owners chose<br />

to hold on to <strong>the</strong>ir investment/vacation condominiums<br />

with plans for more personal use this season. Realtors<br />

believe that in 20<strong>21</strong>, <strong>the</strong> condominium sector sales numbers<br />

will become normalized when <strong>the</strong> Ritz-Carlton is<br />

completed and <strong>the</strong> sales <strong>of</strong> those units are posted in <strong>the</strong><br />

MLS system.<br />

Land sales also saw a drop in <strong>the</strong> current marketplace.<br />

The average price went from $474,878 to<br />

56 www.timespub.tc

$274,314 and <strong>the</strong> median price dropped from $237,500<br />

to $85,000 with total sales decreasing from $16,145,859<br />

to $7,406,500. Analysts believe that during this time <strong>of</strong><br />

pandemic, more land is being purchased by island residents<br />

at <strong>the</strong> lower end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> scale. For instance, land<br />

sales in Long Bay continue to be strong—leaving a very<br />

limited amount <strong>of</strong> beachfront and waterfront properties<br />

in <strong>the</strong> active market.<br />

At press time (mid-December <strong>2020</strong>) Keller Williams<br />

TCI released updated figures covering <strong>the</strong> period October<br />

<strong>2020</strong> to December 14, <strong>2020</strong>. They note, “Our market is<br />

showing that house sales are similar to <strong>the</strong> last quarter,<br />

but that <strong>the</strong> average sale price went down from<br />

$1,100,000 to $925,000. There were three sales in <strong>the</strong><br />

range <strong>of</strong> $300,000 to $599,999; five sales in <strong>the</strong> range <strong>of</strong><br />

$600,000 to $999,999; and eight sales over $1 million.”<br />

The report adds, “Our condominium/townhouse report<br />

looks so much better this quarter, with sixteen sales and<br />

an average sale price <strong>of</strong> $1,280,687. There were six sales<br />

over $1 million, totaling $16,391,000 <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> $20,491,000<br />

sold. Land sales did marginally better this quarter with<br />

total sales <strong>of</strong> $7,938,500 and an average sale price<br />

increase to $317,540. Luxury land showed one sale <strong>of</strong><br />

beach frontage at $2,500,000. It is getting very difficult<br />

to find beachfront land, especially in Providenciales; we<br />

have many buyers looking.”<br />

This is a clue as to why <strong>the</strong> TCI real estate market<br />

continues to flourish. There is not an oversupply <strong>of</strong><br />

inventory, so sellers can expect <strong>the</strong>ir asking prices are<br />

not unrealistic. There are very few speculators in <strong>the</strong><br />

market, so properties that are purchased, even land, are<br />

soon put to use. This is clear if you take a drive around<br />

Providenciales and take note <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> multitude <strong>of</strong> projects<br />

currently under construction or renovation. There is no<br />

doubt that <strong>the</strong> construction industry is flourishing!<br />

The Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association (TCREA)<br />

includes 14 companies and over 100 agents, all highly<br />

trained and ready to uphold standards <strong>of</strong> integrity and<br />

good practice. TCREA agents have worked diligently—<br />

many from home—to communicate and serve clients<br />

and customers throughout <strong>the</strong> TCI border shutdown and<br />

during <strong>the</strong> current months <strong>of</strong> pandemic upheaval.<br />

With lots <strong>of</strong> practice in working with clients via<br />

computer and telephone, having virtual meetings, conferences<br />

and property showings with customers and clients<br />

worldwide is nothing new to TCI realtors. In fact, <strong>the</strong><br />

variety <strong>of</strong> technological solutions, including virtual tours,<br />

videos, photography, third party expert inspections,<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 57


Dining al fresco can be a daily occurence when you own a home or<br />

condominium in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Shown here is an outdoor<br />

patio at The Somerset on Grace Bay.<br />

effective documentation and diligent agent, broker and<br />

legal follow-up has actually made purchasing and selling<br />

real estate less complicated than in <strong>the</strong> pre-COVID era. As<br />

more buyers “shop” online, virtual showings can shrink<br />

<strong>the</strong> timeline for purchase, leading to greater sales and<br />

reduced days on market.<br />

This year marked a time <strong>of</strong> transition for many local<br />

businesses, and <strong>the</strong> real estate sector was no different.<br />

National Colony Realty, one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI’s oldest real estate<br />

companies (founded by Bengt Soderqvist in 1966), joined<br />

Keller Williams, <strong>the</strong> number one international realty<br />

agency in <strong>the</strong> world. Building on a solid foundation <strong>of</strong><br />

integrity, honesty and results, Keller Williams Turks and<br />

Caicos gains a technological edge that is present throughout<br />

every step <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> experience. Unchanging is <strong>the</strong> base<br />

<strong>of</strong> clients who have become friends over <strong>the</strong> years.<br />

ERA Turks & Caicos, ano<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> TCI’s venerable real<br />

estate companies, used <strong>the</strong> pandemic shutdown to merge<br />

into <strong>the</strong> RE/MAX Real Estate Group, a diverse team <strong>of</strong><br />

expatriates and native Turks & Caicos Islanders, with an<br />

58 www.timespub.tc

excellent reputation <strong>of</strong> working with referred or repeat<br />

clients.<br />

As soon as restrictions and curfews were lifted, developers,<br />

contractors and construction workers in <strong>the</strong> TCI<br />

went back to work. Much progress has been made on <strong>the</strong><br />

newest projects on <strong>of</strong>fer.<br />

The South Bank residential resort and marina sprawls<br />

over 30 acres, its borders <strong>the</strong> captivating 2,000 feet <strong>of</strong><br />

ironshore just east <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> South Bank Marina and 230<br />

feet <strong>of</strong> beautiful beach on Long Bay. Each <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> various<br />

neighborhoods <strong>of</strong>fers residences featuring a unique relationship<br />

with <strong>the</strong> water and having <strong>the</strong>ir own pools and<br />

gardens to create private spaces within an embracing<br />

enclave.<br />

At press time in December <strong>2020</strong>, <strong>the</strong> excavation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> central South Bank feature—<strong>the</strong> 5.4-acre beachfront<br />

swimming lagoon—has commenced and will reshape <strong>the</strong><br />

canvas significantly over <strong>the</strong> next three months, finishing<br />

with <strong>the</strong> shaping <strong>of</strong> two lounging islands with intimate<br />

beach coves and cabanas.<br />

Surrounding <strong>the</strong> Lagoon, three Lagoon Villas were<br />

showing different stages <strong>of</strong> completion. Lot 12 is evidenc-<br />

Cays <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>Times</strong> 2018_Layout 1 11/14/18 10:30 AM Page 1<br />



Once you have purchased your land<br />

...we take you all <strong>the</strong> way.<br />


We take care <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> design,<br />

<strong>the</strong> building approvals,<br />

<strong>the</strong> construction management,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> construction works.<br />

Allow us to design and build your new home.<br />

caysconstruction.com<br />

caysconstruction@aol.com<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 59

The longest established legal practice<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Real Estate Investments<br />

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Immigration, Residency<br />

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1 Caribbean Place, P.O. Box 97<br />

Leeward Highway, Providenciales<br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, BWI<br />

Ph: 649 946 4344 • Fax: 649 946 4564<br />

E-Mail: dempsey@tciway.tc<br />

Cockburn House, P.O. Box 70<br />

Market Street, Grand Turk<br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, BWI<br />

Ph: 649 946 2245 • Fax: 649 946 2758<br />

E-Mail: ffdlawco@tciway.tc<br />

john redmond associates ltd.<br />

architects & designers<br />

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p.o.box <strong>21</strong>, providenciales, turks & caicos is.<br />

tel.: 9464440 cell: 2314569 email: redmond@tciway.tc<br />

ing <strong>the</strong> iconic butterfly ro<strong>of</strong> with windows scheduled for<br />

installation in early January. Lots 4 and 7, each <strong>of</strong>fering<br />

beautiful sunset views across <strong>the</strong> lagoon, are well under<br />

way. Along <strong>the</strong> Long Bay shoreline, <strong>the</strong>re is progress at<br />

<strong>the</strong> Ocean Estate. Shoal Villa 8 is now at ro<strong>of</strong> level and is<br />

showing <strong>of</strong>f its impressive serenity pool. A Banks Villa,<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r Shoal Villa and a Dune Villa are scheduled to commence<br />

construction in <strong>the</strong> first quarter <strong>of</strong> 20<strong>21</strong>.<br />

Each South Bank residence features generous kitchen<br />

and living/dining areas, handmade for entertaining family<br />

and friends. Homeowners and <strong>the</strong>ir guests can partake<br />

<strong>of</strong> resort amenities including watersports, tennis, gym,<br />

spa, restaurant and bar, along with multiple beach access<br />

areas. Also available are in-villa dining and spa treatments,<br />

with private chefs and wellness experts. The entire<br />

South Bank property is security gated.<br />

Now under construction, 20<strong>21</strong> will bring <strong>the</strong> opening<br />

<strong>of</strong> Grace Bay Resorts’ anticipated new luxury resort Rock<br />

House. This cliffside Mediterranean-inspired hideaway—<br />

located on a 14-acre oceanfront site on <strong>the</strong> north coast<br />

<strong>of</strong> Providenciales—includes peaks soaring to 95 feet<br />

above sea level. Its signature features are two pools: a<br />

breathtaking 100-foot long infinity pool perched on a cliff<br />

overlooking <strong>the</strong> ocean, and a limestone pool built into <strong>the</strong><br />

natural stone, surrounded by ancient trees.<br />

Rock House <strong>of</strong>fers guests privacy and space—two<br />

things that will be most important to travelers in 20<strong>21</strong>—<br />

through spacious studio suites and single-family homes.<br />

The aes<strong>the</strong>tic at <strong>the</strong> five-star property will be comfortable<br />

luxury, highlighting and protecting <strong>the</strong> landscape’s<br />

natural elements. Glamorous amenities will include a serviced<br />

beach club jetty reminiscent <strong>of</strong> those in Europe; a<br />

secluded private beach and a signature cliff-top restaurant.<br />

Reports are that Phase 1 is nearly sold-out.<br />

Serenity, luxury, and beauty abound at <strong>the</strong> Sailrock<br />

community on South Caicos. Spread over 770 acres in a<br />

naturally preserved environment, <strong>the</strong> Sailrock Peninsula<br />

includes a five-star resort and several private neighborhoods<br />

with an array <strong>of</strong> unique homesites with varying<br />

topographies, vegetation and shorelines to accommodate<br />

all lifestyles.<br />

To aid and assist <strong>the</strong> growing number <strong>of</strong> people who<br />

are making <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir permanent or<br />

part-time home, KR Logistics & Services <strong>of</strong>fers complete<br />

relocation services. They are well-able to pr<strong>of</strong>essionally<br />

pack, crate, load and ship your belongings anywhere in<br />

<strong>the</strong> world or from anywhere in <strong>the</strong> world. They also <strong>of</strong>fer<br />

extensive consulation services to streamline <strong>the</strong> entire<br />

process <strong>of</strong> starting a new life in paradise. a<br />

60 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe<br />

newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Front Street, PO Box 188, Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, BWI TKCA 1ZZ<br />

tel 649 247 <strong>21</strong>60/US incoming 786 220 1159 • email info@tcmuseum.org • web www.tcmuseum.org<br />

Here’s a bit <strong>of</strong> “recent” history: an image <strong>of</strong> school teacher Eliza Simons and her students on Salt Cay back in 1964. I wonder what stories<br />

those students remember?<br />


Continuing <strong>the</strong> Story . . .<br />

I am always asked where my love <strong>of</strong> exploring unknown history comes from. Growing up, my godfa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Roosevelt “Roosie” Finlayson would entertain my cousin and me with Afro-Bahamian folk tales. He was<br />

such a performer that I looked forward to my visits with Roosie just for his stories. While <strong>the</strong>se stories<br />

are tales <strong>of</strong> fiction, at <strong>the</strong> time I believed <strong>the</strong>m to be real. It made me wonder about “once upon a time”<br />

and inspired a thirst to learn and uncover more. As I grew as a researcher, I learnt that <strong>the</strong> story is never<br />

finished. There is always more to uncover or ano<strong>the</strong>r perspective to tell.<br />

In this edition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Astrolabe we present two examples <strong>of</strong> “continuing <strong>the</strong> story.” Jeffrey Dodge<br />

continues and expands upon <strong>the</strong> story <strong>of</strong> 19 Californians who went to East Caicos in 1940 to establish<br />

“utopia.” Eric Wiberg completes <strong>the</strong> story <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Fauna, which was torpedoed by a U-boat and sunk near<br />

<strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos during World War II, and <strong>the</strong> boat’s survivors.<br />

Do you have an artistic, historic or cultural research question or article you would like to submit to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Astrolabe? Contact us at info@tcmuseum.org. a<br />

Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Ph.D., former Director, Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

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astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />


Top: This is <strong>the</strong> yacht Spindrift tied up on <strong>the</strong> Miami River just before departing for East Caicos with <strong>the</strong> “modern Crusoes” on board.<br />

Bottom left: Cletys Ackerman and Greta and Karl Kvanvig stand next to a cottage on East Caicos built <strong>of</strong> tabby concrete.<br />

Bottom right: Margaret Lorntsen sits in front <strong>of</strong> a pile <strong>of</strong> conch shells which were burned to create lime. It was mixed with water, sand and<br />

ash to make <strong>the</strong> tabby concrete.<br />

Modern Crusoes<br />

The rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> story.<br />

By Jeffrey Dodge<br />

In 2017, <strong>the</strong> Astrolabe published a story I wrote about 19 Californians who went to East Caicos in 1940<br />

with <strong>the</strong> intention <strong>of</strong> establishing a utopian colony <strong>the</strong>re. (See: https://www.timespub.tc/2018/01/modern-crusoes/).<br />

Since that article was published, I have been contacted by descendants <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> group’s<br />

leader, Richard Irvine. They’ve shared recorded interviews with Richard Irvine, two <strong>of</strong> his daughters and<br />

100-year-old Alton Higgs <strong>of</strong> Middle Caicos. Higgs worked for <strong>the</strong> Californians on East Caicos in 1940 when<br />

he was 18 years old. Here is <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> story.<br />

62 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Synopsis<br />

By 1938, Richard Irvine, a traveling salesman living in<br />

Pasadena, California, had become so distressed with what<br />

he viewed as <strong>the</strong> Roosevelt Administration’s swing toward<br />

socialism that he considered moving out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country.<br />

Later that year, Irvine’s political dilemma was solved.<br />

In late 1938 while in Phoenix, Arizona on business,<br />

Irvine made <strong>the</strong> acquaintance <strong>of</strong> James Lake. During <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

conversation that evening at Irvine’s hotel, Lake mentioned<br />

that his wife Grace had inherited land on East<br />

Caicos Island in <strong>the</strong> British West Indies from her fa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

John N. Reynolds. Based on a trip Lake and his wife made<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> in 1934, he told Irvine that<br />

<strong>the</strong> abandoned island was abundant in valuable resources<br />

such as hardwood forests, fruit trees, wild cattle and jackasses,<br />

sisal and bat guano in caves that could be sold for<br />

fertilizer. His description was so impressive that Richard<br />

Irvine thought East Caicos might be <strong>the</strong> perfect place to<br />

establish a colony far away from <strong>the</strong> politics at home.<br />

James and Grace Lake moved to Pasadena and into <strong>the</strong><br />

Irvine home in late 1939 so <strong>the</strong>y could more easily plan<br />

forming a co-operative settlement on <strong>the</strong> island Grace<br />

had inherited. Twenty-one people—fifteen strangers plus<br />

six members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Irvine family—were chosen for this<br />

venture. They included a salesman, insurance investigator,<br />

carpenter for Walt<br />

Disney, a housekeeper for<br />

Hollywood celebrities, a<br />

nurse, a retired Standard<br />

Oil engineer and a student.<br />

Their ages ranged from<br />

69 years to 18 months.<br />

The group <strong>of</strong> twenty-one<br />

signed an agreement<br />

forming a closed corporation<br />

<strong>the</strong>y called <strong>the</strong> East<br />

Caicos Trading Company.<br />

Under <strong>the</strong> agreement,<br />

Richard Irvine became <strong>the</strong><br />

group’s leader and could<br />

only be replaced if found<br />

to be incompetent and<br />

a qualified replacement<br />

identified.<br />

The group left<br />

Pasadena on January<br />

17, 1940 for Cutler, Florida in four cars—one towing a<br />

trailer—and a truck. While on <strong>the</strong> way, <strong>the</strong> Irvines saw <strong>the</strong><br />

group’s trailer, filled with <strong>the</strong>ir supplies, abandoned by<br />

<strong>the</strong> side <strong>of</strong> a gas station near New Orleans. The trailer had<br />

been towed behind a car driven by John and Jill Dowdle.<br />

The group was so angry with <strong>the</strong> couple that <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

voted out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> corporation on <strong>the</strong> spot and sent away<br />

by bus.<br />

While camped at Cutler, Richard Irvine met and<br />

contracted with Vincent Conley, <strong>the</strong> owner <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> yacht<br />

Spindrift, for transportation to East Caicos at a cost <strong>of</strong><br />

$800 and <strong>the</strong> rights to later establish a resort on <strong>the</strong><br />

island. Spindrift left Miami on February 18 and, after a<br />

stormy two-week voyage that included layovers in Key<br />

West and Cuba, arrived at East Caicos on March 2, 1940.<br />

Trouble brews on East Caicos<br />

Two days after arriving on <strong>the</strong>ir newfound paradise, <strong>the</strong><br />

Californians moved <strong>the</strong>ir belongings from <strong>the</strong> coast to<br />

Jacksonville, a settlement abandoned by <strong>the</strong> East Caicos<br />

Sisal Company 20 years before. This would become <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

permanent encampment.<br />

The “modern Crusoes” became more and more<br />

disillusioned as <strong>the</strong>y learned that none <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> valuable<br />

resources James and Grace Lake had promised <strong>the</strong>m were<br />

From left: Helene Irvine, Jane Irvine, Grace Lake, Dawn Irvine, Louise Irvine, Richard Irvine and baby “King”<br />

Irvine review a map at <strong>the</strong> Irvine family home in Pasadena, California.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 63

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him with divorce—if he<br />

did not agree to return to<br />

California. Richard reluctantly<br />

agreed that night to<br />

return home. Ernest and<br />

Jill Lawrence also decided<br />

<strong>the</strong>y would return to <strong>the</strong><br />

U.S. and Boyce Phillips<br />

told <strong>the</strong>m he would leave<br />

too once he was able.<br />

The Lawrence couple<br />

left for South Caicos on<br />

March 23—one day ahead<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Irvine family and<br />

Ned Read. Once on South<br />

Caicos, Louise Irvine realized<br />

that in order to pay<br />

for fur<strong>the</strong>r transportation<br />

home, she had to<br />

sell everything <strong>the</strong> family<br />

owned, including <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

clo<strong>the</strong>s.<br />

Two weeks later, <strong>the</strong><br />

Irvine family and Ned Read<br />

boarded a native boat<br />

loaded with conch that<br />

Grace and James Lake stand in front <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir tent on East Caicos in March, 1940.<br />

was headed for Nassau.<br />

The trip was miserable—<br />

found on <strong>the</strong>ir island home. In addition, members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong> boat smelled and <strong>the</strong>re were no toilets. Louise and<br />

group were already at each o<strong>the</strong>r’s throats complaining <strong>the</strong> girls had to use an umbrella for privacy when nature<br />

that not everyone was doing <strong>the</strong>ir share <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> work, that called. From Nassau, <strong>the</strong>y took <strong>the</strong> SS Alleghany to Miami<br />

some were selfish, or <strong>the</strong>y didn’t like Irvine’s authoritarian<br />

manner. Richard, in a letter to his parents, said “I get<br />

arriving April 15, 1940.<br />

blamed for everything.”<br />

The last to leave<br />

Two weeks after <strong>the</strong> group landed on East Caicos, On August 7, 1940, months after <strong>the</strong> Irvine family<br />

returned to California, Louise received a note from<br />

morale deteriorated to such a degree that Richard Irvine<br />

was voted out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> East Caicos Trading Company, forcing<br />

<strong>the</strong> Irvine family to move out <strong>of</strong> Jacksonville and Grace and James Lake were <strong>the</strong> only people left on East<br />

Frances Wenstermann, a friend <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Lakes, saying that<br />

relocate at Breezy Point about five miles away. They were Caicos. In all likelihood, Frances received a letter from <strong>the</strong><br />

joined by Ned Read, Ernest and Cecilia Lawrence and Lakes with this information. Passenger records showed<br />

bachelor Boyce Phillips.<br />

that Grace returned to Miami in February 1942. James<br />

returned a little more than a year later.<br />

Leaving “Paradise”<br />

A newspaper reported that <strong>the</strong> last person to leave<br />

By this time, Richard’s wife Louise was so miserable and East Caicos was “repatriated during WW II years partially at<br />

fed up with <strong>the</strong> entire venture that on March 19 she had government expense.” This was confirmed by Alton Higgs<br />

a knock-down fight with her husband—even threatening during an interview with Richard Irvine’s great-grand-<br />

64 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

daughter in 2015 at his home on Middle Caicos. Higgs<br />

said that he had worked for <strong>the</strong> California group while<br />

<strong>the</strong>y were on East Caicos when he was a teenager. Higgs<br />

said that James Lake was alone on <strong>the</strong> island for over a<br />

year and that he and Isaac McIntosh, also from Middle<br />

Caicos, checked on Lake weekly and brought him food.<br />

He added that Lake lived alone until he was “removed”<br />

from <strong>the</strong> island.<br />


Alton Higgs <strong>of</strong> Middle Caicos (who recently celebrated his 100th birthday)<br />

worked for <strong>the</strong> California group on East Caicos when he was a<br />

teenager.<br />

Afterwards<br />

This is what happened to some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> group <strong>of</strong> nineteen<br />

after <strong>the</strong>y left East Caicos.<br />

Richard Irvine had to ask his mo<strong>the</strong>r for funds to<br />

pay for food and transportation back to California from<br />

Miami. Once home, he returned to his pr<strong>of</strong>ession as a<br />

salesman selling everything from candied nuts to plaster<br />

figures. During <strong>the</strong> war, he worked at <strong>the</strong> Norris Stamping<br />

& Mfg. Co. making shell casings. Richard continued his<br />

fight against socialism, becoming <strong>the</strong> chairman <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Constitution Party <strong>of</strong> California. He received 153 write-in<br />

votes for governor in <strong>the</strong> November 1962 election.<br />

Richard died in 1997 at age 100.<br />

Louise Irvine suffered from poor health over <strong>the</strong><br />

years. Asthma she developed while on East Caicos<br />

remained with her for <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> her life. She died from a<br />

heart attack in 1991.<br />

These are “pioneers” Richard and Louise Irvine in 1977/1978.<br />

Jane Irvine was 17 years old when she went to East<br />

Caicos with her family. She was supposed to marry her<br />

high school swee<strong>the</strong>art, Ned Read, once <strong>the</strong>y reached <strong>the</strong><br />

island. Ned’s parents agreed to let Ned join <strong>the</strong> Irvine<br />

expedition and wrote a letter to Richard Irvine assigning<br />

responsibility for <strong>the</strong>ir son’s well-being over to him. Ned<br />

and Jane never married—<strong>the</strong>ir romance ended by <strong>the</strong> time<br />

<strong>the</strong>y landed on East Caicos. Jane returned to California<br />

with her parents in May 1940 and married Robert<br />

MacQuarrie seven months later. They had three children.<br />

Jane and Robert were divorced in 1968. She passed away<br />

in 1988.<br />

Helene Irvine was just seven years old when she<br />

returned to California. She was married three times, had<br />

two children and completed college receiving an advanced<br />

degree. She taught at <strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong> California at Irvine.<br />

Helene died in 2008.<br />

PIctured above are Helene and Jane Irvine circa 1958.<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 65

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Dawn Irvine was nine when she left for East Caicos.<br />

Little is know o<strong>the</strong>r than she married Melvin Thompson<br />

in March 1945. Dawn is alive today.<br />

James Irvine, or “King” as he was known as a child,<br />

was 18 months old when he went to <strong>the</strong> East Caicos. He<br />

suffered from infected insect bites and <strong>the</strong> lack <strong>of</strong> appropriate<br />

food while <strong>the</strong>re. James worked as a policeman in<br />

Torrence, California and later in <strong>the</strong> insurance business<br />

in Fresno. Little else is known about James.<br />

James and Grace Lake were <strong>the</strong> last people on East<br />

Caicos. Grace left in 1942—James left 14 months later.<br />

Both returned to Massachusetts, <strong>the</strong>ir home before moving<br />

out West. Sometime between 1943 and 1949, Grace<br />

conveyed ownership <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> land she had inherited on East<br />

Caicos to her daughter Alice Christensen, a Bermudian by<br />

marriage. James Lake may have returned to <strong>the</strong> insurance<br />

business when he returned home in 1943, however, he<br />

would have been 72 years old. Both James and Grace died<br />

in 1950 and were buried near Boston.<br />

Ned Read returned to California in April 1940. He<br />

went to trade school and <strong>the</strong>n worked as a riveter at<br />

Lockheed Martin. In 1941 he enlisted in <strong>the</strong> Army Air<br />

Corps. Ned met his wife-to-be, Cindy Morgan, while stationed<br />

in Ohio—<strong>the</strong>y were married in 1943.<br />

After <strong>the</strong> military, Ned completed his education at<br />

Ohio State University, obtaining an engineering degree.<br />

Ned and Cindy moved back to California where Ned<br />

worked at Lockheed as an efficiency engineer. After he<br />

retired, <strong>the</strong>y moved to Oregon and raised Christmas<br />

trees and built energy-efficient homes. Later, looking<br />

for a warmer climate, <strong>the</strong> couple moved to a retirement<br />

community in Sou<strong>the</strong>rn California. Cindy passed away in<br />

2008. Ned died in 2015.<br />

Ned Read’s granddaughter said that her grandfa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

did not talk about his experience on East Caicos, perhaps<br />

because it was such an unpleasant one. She said that he<br />

despised seafood for <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> his life.<br />

The Lorntsen family left East Caicos by August<br />

7, 1940, leaving Grace and James Lake <strong>the</strong> only<br />

remaining members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> group on <strong>the</strong> island.<br />

Mr. and Mrs. Lorntsen and <strong>the</strong>ir daughter traveled<br />

to Nassau where <strong>the</strong>y took up permanent residency.<br />

They remained <strong>the</strong>re until at least 1959 when<br />

Andreas passed away. In 1941, Sam Robinson<br />

<strong>of</strong> Grand Turk wrote in a letter to <strong>the</strong> Irvine family<br />

that Olaf, <strong>the</strong> Lorntsen’s 22-year-old son, was<br />

working on a Norwegian salt vessel, a job he probably<br />

secured before his parents left East Caicos. Olaf registered<br />

for <strong>the</strong> draft in New York in February, 1942.<br />

The o<strong>the</strong>r six members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> East Caicos Trading<br />

Company returned to California after leaving East<br />

Caicos. The men registered for <strong>the</strong> military and most<br />

served in <strong>the</strong> army. Later, many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m returned to<br />

<strong>the</strong> pr<strong>of</strong>essions <strong>the</strong>y left behind when <strong>the</strong>y departed<br />

California on January 17, 1940 for what <strong>the</strong>y thought<br />

would be a new life on a deserted island in <strong>the</strong> British<br />

West Indies. Little else is known about <strong>the</strong>m. a<br />


Author Jeffrey Dodge has published a fascinating book<br />

detailing <strong>the</strong> story <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> modern Crusoes entitled,<br />

Californians Seek Utopia on East Caicos Island. If you<br />

are interested in a copy, please contact Mr. Dodge at<br />

tinqua1512@gmail.com.<br />

These are Cindy and Ned Read as newlyweds in 1943. They married<br />

after Ned’s return from East Caicos.<br />

66 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

The German submarine U-558 was a Type VIIC U-boat in <strong>the</strong> service <strong>of</strong> Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine during World War II. She sank 19 merchant<br />

ships (including <strong>the</strong> Fauna) and military vessels totalling nearly 100,000 tons before being sunk by bombers in July 1943.<br />

TCI in World War II<br />

The Fauna, Part II, 1942<br />

By Captain Eric Wiberg<br />

In <strong>the</strong> Summer <strong>2020</strong> issue <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Astrolabe, <strong>the</strong> author detailed <strong>the</strong> first part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> tale <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Fauna, a<br />

1,272-ton Dutch steamship. The Fauna left New York on May 6, 1942 destined for Grand Turk with a crew<br />

<strong>of</strong> 29 men and a load <strong>of</strong> cargo, including 23 bags <strong>of</strong> mail! She was less than a day from her destination on<br />

May 17 when she was found and intercepted by U-558 under Gü<strong>the</strong>r Krech in <strong>the</strong> Caicos Passage.<br />

The boat was torpedoed and eventually sunk at 12:42 AM on May 18. A total <strong>of</strong> 27 men survived and<br />

made <strong>the</strong>ir way by lifeboat to <strong>the</strong> unpopulated island <strong>of</strong> West Caicos at 11:00 AM on May 18. Finding no<br />

one <strong>the</strong>re, <strong>the</strong>y set <strong>of</strong>f to <strong>the</strong> north, rounded Northwest Point, and were eventually discovered by two local<br />

fishing boats. Captain Ralph A. Ewing brought half <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> crew back to Blue Hills on his schooner Sister<br />

E. (also known as The Sisters), while Captain William Ewing returned with <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> crew aboard his<br />

boat The Flirt. The men were found in poor condition and were cared for by Islanders.<br />

The complete first part is available at: https://www.timespub.tc/<strong>2020</strong>/06/tci-in-world-war-ii/<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 67

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

During <strong>the</strong>ir overnight stay in Blue Hills, <strong>the</strong> Dutch<br />

sailors were put up in <strong>the</strong> local schoolhouse, <strong>the</strong>n were<br />

<strong>of</strong>fered a local sailing boat for onward passage. At <strong>the</strong><br />

time, <strong>the</strong> government in <strong>the</strong> colonial capital <strong>of</strong> Cockburn<br />

Town, Grand Turk reimbursed local sailors for providing<br />

assistance to stranded sailors. They also reimbursed<br />

Islanders for returning items salvaged from torpedoed<br />

shipwrecks on <strong>the</strong> coast, though in some instances, items<br />

like tinned food and clothing were simply taken and used.<br />

The Islanders faced great difficulty finding a market<br />

for <strong>the</strong> salt <strong>the</strong>y harvested, due to <strong>the</strong> danger to ships<br />

in exporting it. “Although demand was up, delivery <strong>of</strong><br />

salt became difficult. With an enemy presence in <strong>the</strong><br />

Caribbean and North American waters, steamers stopped<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir business and export <strong>of</strong> salt to <strong>the</strong> eastern seaboard<br />

dramatically declined.” As a result, skippers in Blue Hills<br />

were eager to take <strong>the</strong> survivors east to <strong>the</strong> capital, with<br />

or without direct payment from <strong>the</strong> Fauna captain.<br />

The men set out for a longer voyage to South Caicos<br />

Island. After two days, in daylight on May <strong>21</strong> <strong>the</strong>y reached<br />

Cockburn Harbour, South Caicos, which is also known as<br />

East Harbour. Historian H. E. Sadler, in his study Turks<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> Landfall confirms that, “The K.N.M.S. Steamer<br />

Fauna, bound for Grand Turk with supplies, was a victim<br />

<strong>of</strong> submarine attack, but her crew <strong>of</strong> 27 landed safely at<br />

South Caicos.” The men remained on South Caicos for<br />

a week. During that time, three <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m—Rab, who had<br />

an injured leg, Noordveld, who was burned, and Oiler<br />

Johannes Stroomberg, who had a cut foot, were treated<br />

for <strong>the</strong>ir wounds. After a period <strong>of</strong> recuperation, <strong>the</strong> men<br />

all set <strong>of</strong>f again on about May 27 for Cockburn Town,<br />

Grand Turk, which was <strong>the</strong>ir original destination. Again,<br />

<strong>the</strong> three injured men were treated, and again <strong>the</strong>y opted<br />

to remain and recover for a week.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> capital town, some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Fauna sailors were<br />

put up in a guest house named <strong>the</strong> Dora Do Do on<br />

Middle Street on Grand Turk. Built in <strong>the</strong> 19th century,<br />

its matron was Dora Williams. Because she was believed<br />

to practice Obeah, or Voodoo, her nickname was “Dora<br />

Do Do.” Ano<strong>the</strong>r establishment where <strong>the</strong>y stayed was<br />

<strong>the</strong> Coverley boarding house, owned and operated by<br />

Felicia Grant and her husband Vincent Coverley. Probably<br />


This old schoolhouse in Blue Hills, Providenciales, is where Fauna survivors were tended to in 1942.<br />

68 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

In Grand Turk, some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Fauna sailors were put up in a guest house named <strong>the</strong> Dora Do Do on Middle Street.<br />


den Heyer and his <strong>of</strong>ficers stayed at <strong>the</strong> Coverley house,<br />

as Sherlin Williams adds that it was “where VIPs visiting<br />

<strong>the</strong> island lived.” The waterfront building, between <strong>the</strong><br />

Anglican Church and <strong>the</strong> sea, has since been demolished.<br />

Despite taking pride in assisting <strong>the</strong> stricken seamen,<br />

and also in harvesting <strong>the</strong> goods <strong>of</strong> value that washed up<br />

on <strong>the</strong>ir shores as a result <strong>of</strong> submarine depredations,<br />

<strong>the</strong> fact remains that <strong>the</strong> impoverished Islanders still very<br />

much needed ships like Fauna to arrive with <strong>the</strong>ir cargos<br />

intact. It was essential for <strong>the</strong>ir survival. During <strong>the</strong> war,<br />

“staples such as rice, beans, hominy and lard became<br />

scarce. Rice and grits that arrived had to be washed and<br />

flour sifted to remove <strong>the</strong> weevils. [People] gardened,<br />

although water was scarce due to <strong>the</strong> drought, and <strong>the</strong><br />

family fished, trolling along <strong>the</strong> Edge <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Deep. . . .<br />

Sails were patched until <strong>the</strong> patches had patches.”<br />

In a letter addressed to “The Commissioner <strong>of</strong><br />

Turks Island, Grand Turk, B.W.I.” from <strong>the</strong> Dutch Central<br />

Transport Workers Union in exile in New York, dated 24<br />

July 1942 and signed by P. J. van der Berge, Secretary, <strong>the</strong><br />

union thanked <strong>the</strong> Islanders “for <strong>the</strong> help rendered <strong>the</strong>m<br />

by your good <strong>of</strong>fice and <strong>the</strong> good people <strong>of</strong> West Caicos<br />

and East Harbour.” The union was asked by <strong>the</strong> Fauna men<br />

to “express <strong>the</strong>ir sincere and heartfelt thanks.” The letter<br />

went on to tell <strong>the</strong> commissioner that “<strong>the</strong>ir assistance to<br />

shipwrecked Dutch seamen will always be remembered<br />

by <strong>the</strong> Dutch people and <strong>the</strong> Dutch labour movement. . .<br />

. Our warmest thanks goes to <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> Turks Island<br />

and your good self, who left nothing undone to mitigate<br />

<strong>the</strong> hardships <strong>of</strong> our men and help <strong>the</strong>m recover from <strong>the</strong><br />

ordeal to which <strong>the</strong>y were subjected after <strong>the</strong> sinking <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir ship by enemy submarines.”<br />

On or about June 3, 1942, <strong>the</strong> survivors set <strong>of</strong>f for<br />

Cape Haitian, a port city on <strong>the</strong> northwest coast <strong>of</strong> Haiti<br />

separated from Grand Turk by 115 miles <strong>of</strong> open ocean.<br />

The two British sailors, Dickenson and Eve, opted to<br />

remain behind. Perhaps <strong>the</strong>y didn’t feel up to ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

open boat voyage. It is not clear whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

survivors used <strong>the</strong> same local sailing craft or obtained<br />

transit on ano<strong>the</strong>r vessel—probably <strong>the</strong> latter, which<br />

would have been safer. Taking ano<strong>the</strong>r ship to Haiti<br />

would also help explain <strong>the</strong> delay <strong>of</strong> a week, since <strong>the</strong>y<br />

would have been reliant on ano<strong>the</strong>r skipper’s schedule.<br />

Once <strong>the</strong>y landed in Cape Haitian and reported <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

predicament, <strong>the</strong> men were transported by automobile<br />

to <strong>the</strong> capital, Port-au-Prince. Captain den Heyer was<br />

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astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

debriefed by <strong>the</strong> US Naval Attache in Port au Prince. From<br />

<strong>the</strong>re, <strong>the</strong>y were given ano<strong>the</strong>r ride to <strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Saint<br />

Marc. This meant a car journey over <strong>the</strong> mountains <strong>of</strong> at<br />

least 75 miles and many hours. Again, two men opted to<br />

remain behind: a Dutch fireman named Francisca, age 40,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> English “servant” John White, age 42.<br />

On June 11 1942, <strong>the</strong> 23 remaining men, led by<br />

Captain den Heyer, boarded <strong>the</strong> ship Gatun bound for<br />

New Orleans, where <strong>the</strong>y arrived on <strong>the</strong> 20th <strong>of</strong> June. The<br />

refrigerated steamship Gatun was built in 1926. She was<br />

owned and operated by <strong>the</strong> Standard Fruit and Steamship<br />

Company and her master at <strong>the</strong> time was Captain<br />

MacLean. Aside from carrying bananas from Haiti and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r islands to its home base in New Orleans, she was<br />

utilized by <strong>the</strong> US Army during <strong>the</strong> war. Presumably, <strong>the</strong><br />

Gatun was part <strong>of</strong> convoy that travelled via Guantanamo<br />

and Key West. On arrival in New Orleans, Captain den<br />

Heyer was interviewed by W. S. Hogg <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> US Navy. He<br />

<strong>the</strong>n proceeded post-haste to New York, in order to report<br />

on <strong>the</strong> loss <strong>of</strong> his ship to <strong>the</strong> owners. Presumably, <strong>the</strong><br />

remaining <strong>21</strong> Dutch crew were re-assigned to o<strong>the</strong>r Dutch<br />

vessels by <strong>the</strong> Dutch consulate. Sam Sanny, <strong>the</strong> English<br />

fireman, made it home to his wife Cornelia in Brooklyn.<br />

1, 1942 bound for Brest, where <strong>the</strong> boat was based with<br />

<strong>the</strong> First Flotilla. Gün<strong>the</strong>r Krech, 27 at <strong>the</strong> time, became<br />

one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> better-known U-boat skippers <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> war, made<br />

famous in part by his over 20 ships and over 100,000<br />

tons sunk and his activity <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> American coast. He is<br />

also remarkable for his youth and early recognition: he<br />

earned <strong>the</strong> Knights Cross shortly after this patrol four<br />

days before his 28th birthday on September 17, 1942. In<br />

April 1941 he had achieved <strong>the</strong> rank <strong>of</strong> Kapitänleutnant.<br />

On July 20, 1943 U-558 was sunk by Allied aircraft<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Bay <strong>of</strong> Biscay, with Krech and four o<strong>the</strong>rs surviving<br />

and being kept in captivity by <strong>the</strong> Allies during <strong>the</strong><br />

balance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> war and sometime <strong>the</strong>reafter. Gün<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Krech survived and lived until age 85, and died in 2000.<br />

A member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> crew <strong>of</strong> 1933, he had served in <strong>the</strong><br />

Luftwaffe for four years before returning to <strong>the</strong> U-boat<br />

arm in November 1939. Over ten patrols <strong>of</strong> 437 days,<br />

Krech sank seventeen ships <strong>of</strong> 93,186 tons and damaged<br />

two o<strong>the</strong>rs for 15,070 tons, as well as effectively destroying<br />

a fur<strong>the</strong>r ship <strong>of</strong> 6,672 tons. a<br />

Eric Wiberg has published over a dozen books <strong>of</strong> nautical<br />

non-fiction. Contact him at: eric@ericwiberg.com.<br />

Gün<strong>the</strong>r Krech became one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> better-known U-boat skippers <strong>of</strong><br />

WW II, made famous in part by his over 20 ships and over 100,000<br />

tons sunk, and his activity <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> American coast.<br />

Gün<strong>the</strong>r Krech was amongst <strong>the</strong> first U-boat skippers<br />

to utilize <strong>the</strong> Mona Passage between Hispaniola (<strong>the</strong><br />

Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico, which he did on<br />

May 29. Over <strong>the</strong> next four days he steamed nor<strong>the</strong>ast<br />

until <strong>the</strong> sub left <strong>the</strong> region north <strong>of</strong> St. Martin on June<br />

70 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Museum Matters<br />

National Heritage Month<br />

October is National Heritage Month in <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. The pandemic created <strong>the</strong> need for creative<br />

thinking and <strong>the</strong> use <strong>of</strong> social media in lieu <strong>of</strong><br />

actual events this year to celebrate. The museum was<br />

delighted to work with <strong>the</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Culture to film<br />

a series <strong>of</strong> videos celebrating <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>me “Our Culture,<br />

Our Heritage, Our People.” The videos were posted on<br />

social media throughout <strong>the</strong> month <strong>of</strong> October.<br />

These included<br />

children-friendly<br />

arts and crafts<br />

videos on how<br />

to create a Turks<br />

Head cactus,<br />

lighthouse, windmill<br />

and kite.<br />

The Grand Turk<br />

museum deck<br />

provided <strong>the</strong> perfect<br />

location to<br />

film <strong>the</strong> process.<br />

The ripsaw<br />

band Full Force recorded a video that included a tutorial<br />

on how to play a ripsaw by Lindsey Butterfield (Zeus).<br />

The o<strong>the</strong>r band members Kel Talbot (drums), Carl<br />

Lightbourne (bass) and X Forbes (lead guitar/singer)<br />

discussed <strong>the</strong> importance <strong>of</strong> each <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir instruments<br />

to <strong>the</strong> band. The band played well-known local tunes for<br />

<strong>the</strong> Live Concert post.<br />

The Department <strong>of</strong> Culture prepared videos on favorite<br />

island recipes titled “Tasty Tuesdays” and interviews<br />

about life “back in <strong>the</strong> day,” in “Through <strong>the</strong> Decades”<br />

videos. These are similar to <strong>the</strong> “People <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>”<br />

exhibit that we are working on and included some <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> same people interviewed.<br />

If you are interested in seeing <strong>the</strong> post, go to our<br />

Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/<br />

TurksCaicosNationalMuseumFoundation and like<br />

your favorite video. a<br />

Educational presentations<br />

Toby Barkworth-Knight from Providenciales Middle<br />

School reached out to <strong>the</strong> museum to create three<br />

presentations on history subjects. Toby explained,<br />

“Students at Provo Middle School learn about <strong>the</strong> TCI’s<br />

history and heritage each year as part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir local history<br />

topics. The National Museum has always been a<br />

wonderful resource in supporting this learning, with<br />

classes visiting <strong>the</strong> Providenciales branch. Our Year 7s<br />

would normally undertake a field trip to Grand Turk and<br />

Salt Cay in early October but, sadly, that was not possible<br />

this year.”<br />

Toge<strong>the</strong>r with our extensive collection <strong>of</strong> photos,<br />

historical documents, books and articles we have <strong>the</strong><br />

necessary information to create informative and enjoyable<br />

presentations for <strong>the</strong> schools. During <strong>the</strong> COVID-19<br />

pandemic, schools are still doing on-line learning and<br />

looking for ways to keep students engaged. I created<br />

presentations on <strong>the</strong> Salt Industry, Cotton Industry and<br />

Political & Economic Change. I joined <strong>the</strong> classrooms<br />

virtually and showed <strong>the</strong> presentations. The students<br />

To celebrate National Heritage Month, <strong>the</strong> museum created arts and crafts videos (top left), while <strong>the</strong> ripsaw band Full Force (above)<br />

recorded a tutorial on how to play a ripsaw, and discussed <strong>the</strong> importance <strong>of</strong> each instrument in <strong>the</strong> band.<br />

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astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Museum Matters<br />

This is a sample <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> on-line presentation on <strong>the</strong> Salt Industry created for TCI students by Lisa Turnbow-Talbot using museum resources.<br />

inquired with many in-depth questions afterwards,<br />

some even requiring fur<strong>the</strong>r research—so I found<br />

myself learning along with <strong>the</strong> students.<br />

As a result <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> positive response, I decided that<br />

<strong>the</strong> museum should create and <strong>of</strong>fer additional presentations,<br />

as we have done for <strong>the</strong> National Heritage<br />

Quiz. The plan is to create resources on a range <strong>of</strong><br />

subjects and <strong>of</strong>fer <strong>the</strong>m to schools or for any o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

educational use. Each history topic will include a 10–12<br />

page presentation with photos and bullet points,<br />

designed to be an introductory overview that will create<br />

discussions from <strong>the</strong> students. a<br />

Preparing for <strong>the</strong> return <strong>of</strong> visitors<br />

“The world Is a book and those who do not travel<br />

read only a page.” ~ Saint Augustine<br />

The Turks & Caicos, along with many o<strong>the</strong>r countries<br />

that rely heavily on tourism, await <strong>the</strong> return<br />

<strong>of</strong> some normalcy to our day-to-day operations. The<br />

reality is that it will not be <strong>the</strong> “old normal” we were<br />

accustomed to. Businesses that deal with <strong>the</strong> public<br />

have <strong>the</strong> task <strong>of</strong> keeping <strong>the</strong>ir visitors safe. The<br />

museum has been updated with new COVID-19 signs<br />

and reminders for our visitors. Grand Turk will be subject<br />

to cruise ship requirements and our Providenciales<br />

location will also implement COVID-19 protocols.<br />

We are fortunate that both locations can arrange<br />

tours so that visitors<br />

can easily<br />

social distance.<br />

Along with <strong>the</strong><br />

usual protocols<br />

<strong>of</strong> masks and<br />

hand sanitizers,<br />

we have<br />

added signs<br />

to remind our<br />

guests to stay<br />

six feet apart.<br />

Interactive exhibits will be temporarily closed to avoid<br />

repeated contact and we have limited <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong><br />

guests in <strong>the</strong> smaller exhibit rooms.<br />

Our Providenciales campus has separate buildings that<br />

will allow a group <strong>of</strong> visitors to enjoy each building<br />

independently <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>rs. Our Grand Turk location<br />

has two floors, large rooms, many rooms as well as a<br />

botanical garden, and a balcony which allows room for<br />

distancing. The layout for both locations will allow us to<br />

split up large tour groups if necessary and rotate <strong>the</strong>m<br />

through <strong>the</strong> exhibits.<br />

The Turks & Caicos National Museum is ready and we<br />

await your visit! Visit our website for updated information:<br />

www.tcmuseum.org. a<br />

Story & Photos By Lisa Turnbow-Talbot<br />

72 www.timespub.tc

about <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Map provided courtesy Wavey Line Publishing. Their navigation charts and decorative and historic maps <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, The<br />

Bahamas, and Hispaniola are available in shops throughout <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. Visit www.amnautical.com.<br />

Where we are<br />

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> lie some 575 miles sou<strong>the</strong>ast<br />

<strong>of</strong> Miami — approximately 1 1/2 hours flying time —<br />

with The Bahamas about 30 miles to <strong>the</strong> northwest and<br />

<strong>the</strong> Dominican Republic some 100 miles to <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>ast.<br />

The country consists <strong>of</strong> two island groups separated<br />

by <strong>the</strong> 22-mile wide Columbus Passage. To <strong>the</strong> west are<br />

<strong>the</strong> Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>: West Caicos, Providenciales, North<br />

Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, and South Caicos. To<br />

<strong>the</strong> east are <strong>the</strong> Turks <strong>Islands</strong>: Grand Turk and Salt Cay.<br />

The Turks & Caicos total 166 square miles <strong>of</strong> land<br />

area on eight islands and 40 small cays. The country’s<br />

population is approximately 43,000.<br />

Getting here<br />

There are international airports on Grand Turk,<br />

Providenciales, and South Caicos, with domestic airports<br />

on all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands except East Caicos.<br />

TCI Assured is a quality assurance pre-travel program<br />

and portal, to assist visitors and returning residents when<br />

<strong>the</strong> country reopened its borders on July 22, <strong>2020</strong>. The<br />

TCI is now requiring a negative COVID-19 PCR test result<br />

from a test taken within five days <strong>of</strong> travel. Children under<br />

<strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> 10 are not required to be tested. Additionally,<br />

travelers must have medical/travel insurance that covers<br />

medevac (insurance companies providing <strong>the</strong> prerequisite<br />

insurance will be available on <strong>the</strong> portal), a completed<br />

health screening questionnaire, and certification that <strong>the</strong>y<br />

have read and agreed to <strong>the</strong> privacy policy document.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 73

These requirements must be completed and uploaded<br />

to <strong>the</strong> TCI Assured portal, which is available on <strong>the</strong> TCI<br />

Tourist Board website (www.turksandcaicostourism.<br />

com), in advance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir arrival.<br />

Once travelers register on <strong>the</strong> TCI Assured portal and<br />

complete <strong>the</strong> requirements as outlined, a travel authorization<br />

notification will be given. The TCI Assured travel<br />

authorization should be presented at <strong>the</strong> time <strong>of</strong> check-in<br />

to <strong>the</strong> appropriate airline; airlines will not be able to<br />

board passengers without this authorization.<br />

Language<br />

English.<br />

Time zone<br />

Eastern Standard Time (EST)/Daylight Savings Time<br />

observed.<br />

Currency<br />

The United States dollar. The Treasury also issues a Turks<br />

& Caicos crown and quarter. Travellers cheques in U.S.<br />

dollars are widely accepted and o<strong>the</strong>r currency can be<br />

changed at local banks. American Express, VISA, and<br />

MasterCard are welcomed at many locations.<br />

Climate<br />

The average year-round temperature is 83ºF (28ºC). The<br />

hottest months are September and October, when <strong>the</strong><br />

temperature can reach 90 to 95ºF (33 to 35ºC). However,<br />

<strong>the</strong> consistent easterly trade winds temper <strong>the</strong> heat and<br />

keep life comfortable.<br />

Casual resort and leisure wear is accepted attire for<br />

daytime; light sweaters or jackets may be necessary on<br />

some breezy evenings. It’s wise to wear protective clothing<br />

and a sunhat and use waterpro<strong>of</strong> sunscreen when out<br />

in <strong>the</strong> tropical sun.<br />

Entry requirements<br />

Passport. A valid onward or return ticket is also required.<br />

Customs formalities<br />

Visitors may bring in duty free for <strong>the</strong>ir own use one carton<br />

<strong>of</strong> cigarettes or cigars, one bottle <strong>of</strong> liquor or wine,<br />

and some perfume. The importation <strong>of</strong> all firearms including<br />

those charged with compressed air without prior<br />

approval in writing from <strong>the</strong> Commissioner <strong>of</strong> Police is<br />

strictly forbidden. Spear guns, Hawaiian slings, controlled<br />

drugs and pornography are also illegal.<br />

Returning residents may bring in $400 worth <strong>of</strong><br />

merchandise per person duty free. A duty <strong>of</strong> 10% to<br />

60% is charged on most imported goods along with a<br />

7% customs processing fee and forms a major source <strong>of</strong><br />

government revenue.<br />

Transportation<br />

A valid driver’s license from home is suitable when renting<br />

vehicles. A government tax <strong>of</strong> 12% is levied on all<br />

rental contracts. (Insurance is extra.) Driving is on <strong>the</strong><br />

left-hand side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> road, with traffic flow controlled by<br />

round-abouts at major junctions. Please don’t drink and<br />

drive! Taxis and community cabs are abundant throughout<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> and many resorts <strong>of</strong>fer shuttle service<br />

between popular visitor areas. Scooter, motorcycle, and<br />

bicycle rentals are also available.<br />

74 www.timespub.tc

Telecommunications<br />

FLOW Ltd. provides land lines and superfast broadband<br />

Internet service. Mobile service is on a LTE 4G network,<br />

including pre- and post-paid cellular phones. Most resorts<br />

and some stores and restaurants <strong>of</strong>fer wireless Internet<br />

connection. Digicel operates mobile networks, with<br />

a full suite <strong>of</strong> LTE 4G service. FLOW is <strong>the</strong> local carrier<br />

for CDMA roaming on US networks such as Verizon and<br />

Sprint. North American visitors with GSM cellular handsets<br />

and wireless accounts with AT&T or Cingular can<br />

arrange international roaming.<br />

Electricity<br />

FortisTCI supplies electricity at a frequency <strong>of</strong> 60HZ,<br />

and ei<strong>the</strong>r single phase or three phase at one <strong>of</strong> three<br />

standard voltages for residential or commercial service.<br />

FortisTCI continues to invest in a robust and resilient grid<br />

to ensure <strong>the</strong> highest level <strong>of</strong> reliability to customers. The<br />

company is integrating renewable energy into its grid and<br />

provides options for customers to participate in two solar<br />

energy programs.<br />

Departure tax<br />

US $60. It is typically included in your airline ticket cost.<br />

Courier service<br />

Delivery service is provided by FedEx, with <strong>of</strong>fices on<br />

Providenciales and Grand Turk, and DHL. UPS service is<br />

limited to incoming delivery.<br />

Postal service<br />

The Post Office and Philatelic Bureau in Providenciales is<br />

located downtown on Airport Road. In Grand Turk, <strong>the</strong><br />

Post Office and Philatelic Bureau are on Church Folly. The<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> are known for <strong>the</strong>ir varied and colorful stamp<br />

issues.<br />

Media<br />

Multi-channel satellite television is received from <strong>the</strong> U.S.<br />

and Canada and transmitted via cable or over <strong>the</strong> air.<br />

Local station WIV-TV broadcasts on Channel 4 and Island<br />

EyeTV on Channel 5. People’s Television <strong>of</strong>fers 75 digitally<br />

transmitted television stations, along with local news<br />

and talk shows on Channel 8. There are also a number <strong>of</strong><br />

local radio stations, magazines, and newspapers.<br />

Medical services<br />

There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. There are<br />

large, modern hospitals on Grand Turk and Providenciales.<br />

Food for Thought provides free daily<br />

breakfast to government school students.<br />

A donation <strong>of</strong> $300 will provide breakfast<br />

to one child for a whole school year.<br />

To donate or learn more please<br />

email info@foodforthoughttci.com<br />

or visit foodforthoughttci.com<br />

Food for Thought Foundation Inc. (NP #102)<br />

Both hospitals <strong>of</strong>fer a full range <strong>of</strong> services including:<br />

24/7 emergency room, operating <strong>the</strong>aters, diagnostic<br />

imaging, maternity suites, dialysis suites, blood bank,<br />

physio<strong>the</strong>rapy, and dentistry.<br />

In addition, several general practitioners operate in<br />

<strong>the</strong> country, and <strong>the</strong>re is a recompression chamber, along<br />

with a number <strong>of</strong> private pharmacies.<br />

Immigration<br />

A resident’s permit is required to live in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. A<br />

work permit and business license are also required to<br />

work and/or establish a business. These are generally<br />

granted to those <strong>of</strong>fering skills, experience, and qualifications<br />

not widely available on <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. Priority is given<br />

to enterprises that will provide employment and training<br />

for T&C Islanders.<br />

Government/Legal system<br />

TCI is a British Crown colony. There is a Queen-appointed<br />

Governor, HE Nigel John Dakin. He presides over an executive<br />

council formed by <strong>the</strong> elected local government.<br />

Lady Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson is <strong>the</strong> country’s first<br />

woman premier, leading a majority People’s Democratic<br />

Movement (PDM) House <strong>of</strong> Assembly.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 75

The legal system is based upon English Common<br />

Law and administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief<br />

Magistrate, and Deputy Magistrates. Judges <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Court<br />

<strong>of</strong> Appeal visit <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> twice a year and <strong>the</strong>re is a final<br />

Right <strong>of</strong> Appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.<br />

Taxes<br />

There are currently no direct taxes on ei<strong>the</strong>r income<br />

or capital for individuals or companies. There are no<br />

exchange controls. Indirect taxation comprises customs<br />

duties and fees, stamp duty, taxes on accommodations,<br />

restaurants, vehicle rentals, o<strong>the</strong>r services and gasoline,<br />

as well as business license fees and departure taxes.<br />

Economy<br />

Historically, TCI’s economy relied on <strong>the</strong> export <strong>of</strong> salt.<br />

Currently, tourism, <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore finance industry, and<br />

fishing generate <strong>the</strong> most private sector income. The<br />

<strong>Islands</strong>’ main exports are lobster and conch. Practically<br />

all consumer goods and foodstuffs are imported.<br />

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are recognised as an<br />

important <strong>of</strong>fshore financial centre, <strong>of</strong>fering services<br />

such as company formation, <strong>of</strong>fshore insurance, banking,<br />

trusts, limited partnerships, and limited life companies.<br />

The Financial Services Commission regulates <strong>the</strong> industry<br />

and spearheads <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore legislation.<br />

People<br />

Citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are termed<br />

“Belongers” and are primarily descendants <strong>of</strong> African<br />

slaves who were brought to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> to work in <strong>the</strong><br />

salt ponds and cotton plantations. The country’s large<br />

expatriate population includes Canadians, Americans,<br />

Brits and Europeans, along with Haitians, Jamaicans,<br />

Dominicans, Bahamians, Indians, and Filipinos.<br />

Churches<br />

Churches are <strong>the</strong> center <strong>of</strong> community life and <strong>the</strong>re<br />

are many faiths represented in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> including:<br />

Adventist, Anglican, Assembly <strong>of</strong> God, Baha’i, Baptist,<br />

Catholic, Church <strong>of</strong> God, Episcopal, Jehovah’s Witnesses,<br />

Methodist and Pentecostal. Visitors are always welcome.<br />

Pets<br />

Incoming pets must have an import permit, veterinary<br />

health certificate, vaccination certificate, and lab test<br />

results to be submitted at <strong>the</strong> port <strong>of</strong> entry to obtain<br />

clearance from <strong>the</strong> TCI Department <strong>of</strong> Agriculture, Animal<br />

Health Services.<br />

National symbols<br />

The National Bird is <strong>the</strong> Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).<br />

The National Plant is Island hea<strong>the</strong>r (Limonium<br />

bahamense) found nowhere else in <strong>the</strong> world. The<br />

National Tree is <strong>the</strong> Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var.<br />

bahamensis). The National Costume consists <strong>of</strong> white cot-<br />

76 www.timespub.tc

ton dresses tied at <strong>the</strong> waist for women and simple shirts<br />

and loose pants for men, with straw hats. Colors representing<br />

<strong>the</strong> various islands are displayed on <strong>the</strong> sleeves<br />

and bases. The National Song is “This Land <strong>of</strong> Ours” by<br />

<strong>the</strong> late Rev. E.C. Howell, PhD. Peas and Hominy (Grits)<br />

with Dry Conch is revered as symbolic island fare.<br />

Going green<br />

TCI Waste Disposal Services currently <strong>of</strong>fers recycling<br />

services through weekly collection <strong>of</strong> recyclable aluminum,<br />

glass, and plastic. Single-use plastic bags have been<br />

banned country-wide as <strong>of</strong> May 1, 2019.<br />

Recreation<br />

Sporting activities are centered around <strong>the</strong> water. Visitors<br />

can choose from deep-sea, reef, or bonefishing, sailing,<br />

glass-bottom boat and semi-sub excursions, windsurfing,<br />

waterskiing, parasailing, sea kayaking, snorkelling, scuba<br />

diving, kiteboarding, stand up paddleboarding, and<br />

beachcombing. Pristine reefs, abundant marine life, and<br />

excellent visibility make TCI a world-class diving destination.<br />

Tennis and golf—<strong>the</strong>re is an 18 hole championship<br />

course on Providenciales—are also popular.<br />

The <strong>Islands</strong> are an ecotourist’s paradise. Visitors can<br />

enjoy unspoilt wilderness and native flora and fauna in 33<br />

national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries, and areas <strong>of</strong><br />

historical interest. The National Trust provides trail guides<br />

to several hiking trails, as well as guided tours <strong>of</strong> major<br />

historical sites. There is an excellent national museum on<br />

Grand Turk, with an auxillary branch on Providenciales. A<br />

scheduled ferry and a selection <strong>of</strong> tour operators make it<br />

easy to take day trips to <strong>the</strong> outer islands.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r land-based activities include bicycling, horseback<br />

riding and football (soccer). Personal trainers are<br />

available to motivate you, working out <strong>of</strong> several fitness<br />

centres. You will also find a variety <strong>of</strong> spa and body treatment<br />

services.<br />

Nightlife includes local bands playing island music<br />

at bars and restaurants and some nightclubs. There is<br />

a casino on Providenciales, along with many electronic<br />

gaming parlours. Stargazing is extraordinary!<br />

Shoppers will find Caribbean paintings, T-shirts,<br />

sports and beachwear, and locally made handicrafts,<br />

including straw work and conch crafts. Duty free outlets<br />

sell liquor, jewellery, watches, perfume, lea<strong>the</strong>r goods,<br />

crystal, china, cameras, electronics, brand-name clothing<br />

and accessories, along with Cuban cigars. a<br />

subscription form<br />


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Please allow 30 to 60 days for delivery <strong>of</strong> first issue.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>-<strong>21</strong> 77

where to stay<br />

78 www.timespub.tc

where to stay<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2020</strong>/<strong>21</strong> 79

dining<br />

80 www.timespub.tc

dining<br />

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classified ads<br />

TC Safari_Layout 1 8/9/18 3:33 PM Page 1<br />

Community Fellowship Centre<br />

A Life-Changing Experience<br />

Sunday Divine Worship 9 AM<br />

Visitors Welcome!<br />

Tel: 649.941.3484 • Web: cfctci.com<br />

Vacation Villa Rentals<br />

Joanne Phillips, Turks & Caicos Safari<br />

www.tcsafari.com<br />

Call: 1-904-491-1415<br />

Email: tcsafari@tcsafari.com<br />

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Find our products throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

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Call 244-2526<br />

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We’re here to<br />

make your holiday<br />

<strong>the</strong> island way...<br />



Provo & North-Middle Caicos<br />

Office: 946-4684<br />

Amos: 441-2667 (after hours)<br />

Yan: 247-6755 (after hours)<br />

Bob: 231-0262 (after hours)<br />

scooterbobs@gmail.com<br />

www.scooterbobstci.com<br />

Grace Bay Road across from Regent Street<br />

Fun Friendly People<br />

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82 www.timespub.tc


ENERGY<br />

You Can<br />

Count On<br />

R-NETS: A roadmap for<br />

TCI’s energy future<br />

Solar integration<br />

to <strong>the</strong> FortisTCI grid<br />

We’re building partnerships to deliver a more sustainable<br />

energy future for <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> Resilient National Energy Transition<br />

Strategy (R-NETS) serving as a roadmap, and with<br />

new and ongoing investments in solar energy<br />

generation, solar plus battery pilot project, and<br />

an electric vehicle and charging station project,<br />

FortisTCI is working every day to deliver resilient,<br />

cost-effective and environmentally sustainable<br />

energy, to fuel growth and development.<br />

Solar + battery storage<br />

pilot project<br />

Electric vehicle<br />

pilot project<br />

www.fortistci.com | 649-946-4313 |

The Leading Private Bank in <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Where values are growing<br />

Wealth Management • Bonds/Fixed Income<br />

Investment Strategies • Foreign Exchange<br />

Stocks/Equities • Precious Metals<br />

Fixed deposits/CD’s • International Transfers<br />

Turks & Caicos Banking Company Ltd.<br />

The Regent Village, Unit H102, Grace Bay Road, Providenciales<br />

Tel: +649 941 4994<br />

Email: services@tcbc.tc • www.tcbc.tc<br />

Regulated by <strong>the</strong> Financial Services Commission, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>

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