For Herbert Bain, September 17 was just a typical day in the Bahamas. It had been a little more than two weeks since Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Abaco Islands, leaving unprecedented wreckage. Marsh Harbour still looked like the apocalypse, but where Bain stood, doing his job as dockmaster for Atlantis Marina at Paradise Island, it was 86 degrees and sunny with a full winter boating season on the horizon. “All the islands south of Nassau, none were impacted,” Bain told Soundings by telephone.
According to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, while damage to the Abacos and Grand Bahama is substantial, nearly all of the 700 other Bahamian islands got lucky. After the gray skies returned to blue, the other islands went back to business as usual.
And it’s a lot of business: Tourism accounts for more than half of the country’s economy, which means that everyone who cruises to the unaffected islands this winter will be playing a part in helping the damaged areas recover. “Travelers can do something for the Bahamas by doing nothing on one of our beaches,” Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism, stated in a press release. “Plan a trip to Nassau, Paradise Island and the out islands. Our beautiful island nation is ready to welcome you.”
Spots in the Exumas that are popular with boaters reported minimal or no damage immediately after Dorian left the region. Compass Cay Marina and Resort reported zero damage and anticipated that boaters who usually cruise in the Abacos are likely to head farther south.
The Bimini Big Game Club was accepting items for donation to the affected islands, while promoting the annual Wahoo Smackdown fishing tournament in early November, telling Facebook fans that “tourism is now more important than ever before in the Bahamas as it generates revenue for Hurricane Dorian relief.”
Bain said boaters cruising to the marina at Atlantis, or leaving from there to explore the Exumas, will also be contributing toward the relief efforts through the resort itself. “We are feeding people, preparing meals on a daily basis that go to the northern islands and to the (refugees at) local shelters,” Bain says. “We’re doing somewhere between 20,000 to 25,000 meals a day. Definitely, if you support the resort, you support the relief effort.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue.