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Catamaran Surprise

Life and Death on a Tropic Isle by Sue Clark is a story about one of their sailing experiences in the Bahamas. Sue Clark is the chef and hostess of the Bahamas crewed catamaran Surprise.

We’ve spent the past six years living and working at sea on our chariot “Surprise,” a high-performance cruising catamaran, sailing yearly round trips from the Bahamas to Maine. Many tales of nautical lore have arisen from these voyages: some amusing, some frightening, some just strange. Strange was the encounter with Bubba the Pig that occurred in January 2008.

Life of a charter crew is full of unexpected adventures with our ‘sports’ on board, a fond name for our charter guests. One couple, Pat and Tom, joined us for a cruise in the Exumas, Bahamas. Pat especially loved marine life encounters and would speak to the turtles, fish, birds, and sharks.

One day we mounted a dingy expedition to Pig Beach on Big Major’s Cay just north of Staniel Cay. A ‘must-do’ on any itinerary for the central Exumas, this is where the cruising guide states you can swim with wild pigs and should bring carrots to feed them! As we motored towards the deserted beach early in the morning, Pat, using her newfound ability to call in nature, began to loudly sing, “sooo wee, sooo wee”. To our delight, from out of the scrub and down across the beach trots the best ever big brown Bubba.

Hesitating not one lick, into the water he plunges and fasts he swims to us… quickly too near to us! Frantically we toss off bits of carrot as he attempts to climb into our inflatable with his big front hooves, floppy ears, and a head twice the size of ours.

At that moment in roars, a tour boat and Bubba now gets thrown dozens of grinder rolls, his favorite food. Those he doesn’t catch mid-air become floating saltwater-bloated mushy buns of dough which he snarfs down with gusto. Outcome more pigs. Then the guide jumps in and swims with them. We are wide-eyed!

The next day we are sailing away. On the VHF radio, we hear of a helicopter medical EVAC at Staniel Cay. The following day we hear on the VHF radio a concerned yachtsman who is anchored off Pig Beach report to authorities that three men in a local skiff have just shot a pig!

No one ashore would talk until the bread lady spilled the beans. Bubba had bitten off a beachcomber’s finger. Sad but understandable, the official decision was to protect the tourist from the pig and have a town BBQ beside. They butchered poor Bubba at Staniel’s government dock, where the fishermen clean their daily catch.

So watch out for those of you who would venture near… the most dangerous denizen of the Exumas is a friend of Miss Piggy.

Time for another Goombay Smash!

“Life and Death on a Tropic Isle” by Sue Clark, 1st mate and chef on SailSurprise.

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