Return to Norman’s Cay


Feb. 13. 016One of our goals for this trip was to get to Normans Cay. The days of drug lords Carlos Lehder and George Jung are long gone, but since this cay plays a significant role in our novel, Night Watch, we wanted to visit his home named The Volcano for the large volcano shaped fireplace that dominated the living room. 030

Since Sable was comfortably docked at Highbourne Cay, we opted to pay to ride over (5 miles) on Highbourne Rider which shortly we renamed Highbourne Pounder. We quickly remembered why we like sailboats. After 20 minutes of pounding through the surf, we worried about the integrity of our spines and brains. However, no ill effects the morning after. 003

We were let off in the surf near the end of the runway. This was used by the planes carrying cocaine from Columbia, S.A. during the Colombian cartel’s reign.

059Today the runway is the only thing still active. During our short visit 4 planes took off or landed, carrying passengers or workers for the company developing the island. It has changed hands many times but once again some optimistic investors plan to develop a marina and reopen the beach club, still known by the name McDuffs.  Don’t believe your Bahama guide and don’t expect lunch or dinner there anytime soon. I just had to post this photo of the current state of things. 063 Someone has a sense of humor.

Now, our goal was Lehder’s house which sits on the northern end of this island. All you have to do is walk the runway, then continue north on the one road that runs the length of the island. 019

Sounds easy, except it was hot and we actually had no idea how far we had to walk. The island is more than 3 miles long and we were at the south end. We had packed two SMALL bottles of water and sandwiches. Our ride back to Highbourne was picking us up at 2:00 pm.  We set out. Around every turn we expected to find something, but we saw nothing but more road. We were hot and discouraged. This cay is described as a fish-hook and the barb end curves around a shallow lagoon, the home of hammerhead sharks. We finally followed a short road that lead to a beach, which we learned from our “guides” was Conch beach.

022Ed waited while I waded in the water but no sharks. Guess it’s not their mating season.

We were ready to turn back. But I waved down the only vehicle we had seen and convinced Perry  and Maurice to drive us to Lehder’s house. Money talks and I really don’t know what you do if you’re not working here. There really is nothing here.

047So, I am posting photos of what remains of Leher’s once famous house. It was here that Carlos and George split up after fighting about Carlos’s effort to cut George out of the cocaine route through Normans. Time, neglect and hurricanes have taken their toll, but the developers might want to make this a historical point of interest for future visitors. We met other curious cruisers (and a Canadian family that had flow in their Cessna) and everyone asked us about Lehder’s house. 036

The house wasn’t as grand as we had read,and even if we had been able to walk the distance, we never would have found it. The entrance is overground with shrubs and the once elegant stone wall is in ruins. Perhaps with walls and a roof, it would look different as our research indicated that once the floors were covered with Oriental rugs and the walls with original art work. European and South American antique furniture dominated the rooms. 039

Lehder drove his bright red Xcaliber at high speeds around the island and entertained many scantily clad woman in his house and on the beach. But here is the only “woman” left behind. 064

All in all, our visit was a great success. The only thing we didn’t see was the downed plane in the anchorage, but Ed was able to find this one. Drug running? Who knows. 053

We sat on the steps of the beach-front house that our character, Manny, lived in during his tenure in the late 70s. It is being rebuilt but is much as we described in the novel so our curiosity was satisfied and our bodies survived the pounding on the return trip.024

Jan, Ed and Sable

P.S. George was the central character in the movie Blow in which Johnny Depp played the real life “Boston George”. George remains in Federal prison until 2014 and Carlos is serving a life plus 135 year term in witness protection in an undisclosed U.S. prison.

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About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Next month we will travel 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies. Australia is over. Now on to S. America for the Rally of the Incas.
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7 Responses to Return to Norman’s Cay

  1. Carla says:

    Nice that I can click on the photos again to see more detail, you guys fixed that. Great! Have fun on your discoveries!

  2. ejhowle23 says:

    In truth, I don’t know why that quit and don’t know how it came back, but I’ll take the credit! I’m glad too, because some of the photos need a detail look.

  3. Katherine Wingard says:

    Hello Janet & Ed,
    We were the group of sailors who were on Normans Cay, looking for water, as we had drained our tank. I was glad you gave us your card so we can follow your sailing blog. This post was interesting. It was nice to be able to see the island now before it is developed.

    Katherine & John

  4. TBC says:

    The pictures are great. Ed, looking most discouraged and WTF and wondering where his lovely glass of French wine is, the overgrown house with WOW-what-a-view, and the damsel in fetching costume! Love the descriptions, of course!

    Hugs to you both,

    TBC

  5. Michael T says:

    I plan in the near future of flying my personal aircraft to, and landing at, Norman’s Cay. Like many, I am interested in seeing the location of Lehder’s home, if permitted. Surveying the island via Google Earth with 2014 satellite imagery, and using your information as to the house being located on the north end of the island, I still cannot pinpoint the location. Could you utilize Google Earth, place the marker on the home, and post here or via e-mail the lat / longs? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • ejhowle23 says:

      Michael, There is no problem landing at Norman’s Cay. While we were there other small personal planes landed. That being said, we arrived by boat. Ask any local for the location of Lehder’s home. Most anyone will be glad to give you a lift there. It is on the north end of the island, off a side road. It is a bit hard to find on your own as the road is overgrown and the house is in ruins, but if you have interest in this period of Bahamian history, it is worth the visit. We have written a suspense novel called Night Watch involving this period. It has not yet been published. If you need additional photos, I can help with that but I do not have the lat/long for this location. Good luck and enjoy.
      Janet and Ed P.S. There are several books with photos describing the history of Normans.

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