PART 1: MISADVENTURES ABROAD FILMING A DISCOVERY CHANNEL SHOW
A few brightly painted, terraced vacation homes sat nestled in sharp white cliffs and scrub. There was not enough land here for it to ever be anything but desolate.
It was hard to tell if it was warning or welcome, official township sign or graffiti. The message on the crumbling cement seawall in the island's leeward bay was written in three-foot tall black spray paint
spreading out for hundreds of feet in either direction from the lone, long dock on the island.
"Get to the point. Stick to the point. Welcome to Black Point."
Under the oldest stand of coconut palms in the middle of the island was the township graveyard. A small air strip was hidden on the far end's flatlands. By golf cart, one end was a few minutes from the other.
And most of what little land was there was covered in huge swaths of solid jagged stone spines, a sign of the rock being etched away by geologic forces.
We arrived there after and because of what happened while crossing the Yellow Banks from the main Bahamas islands to the Exumas. During the crossing, a crew mate must stand on the bow and point out the coral heads rising to within a few feet of the surface.
As we navigated this way the seas built dramatically and it wasn't long after crossing that we took a wave over the bow of our 52-foot center console.
The 32-foot camera boat that had been shadowing the 52-footer since leaving Miami suddenly stopped and started drifting sideways into the oncoming ocean of white-cap waves. Our captain called on the radio.
"Mate whatever you're doing, do it pointed into the sea," our boat's hired local captain said in a South African accent.
The captain listened to the metallic noise screaming out of the radio and reported they say their tuna tower's snapped.
We watched out the windows from our boat a few hundred feet away as the tower began to sag, slam, shift and slide around, beating the boat beneath it with each wave and leaking thick viscous steering fluid onto the deck and main console below it.
The show's principal put a lifejacket on, climbed onto the wide teak gunwales of our 52-footer and dove into the sea, swimming through pelting rain and storm chop to assist the second boat's crew in attempts to tie down the tuna tower.
Its structure was failing, but it was still tethered to the lower console by electrical and hydraulic lines. If it slipped overboard, it would not fall into the sea, it would hang in the water, roll the boat's hull and drag it down into the water.
Everything but actual gremlins crawled out of the sea and up the sides of our boats on that trip. And nothing ever made sense.
We truly went from that stormy, deadly scene to the other side, Atlantic Ocean to Florida Straits, to Compass Cay, where it was hard to imagine how different conditions could be on such a short tac off course.
The most picturesque and calm waters imaginable greeted us. Luxury yacht passengers swam walked down an ankle-deep submerged dock at the tiki bar and then jumped in to swim with an ever-present school of nurse sharks. The water was so clear and sand so white, the lagoons and bays reflected a bluish tint onto the bottoms of the low white puffy clouds.
Our first trip together as a crew had been to the the most remote, notoriously sketchy jungle on Earth, the Darian Gap, straddling the border of Colombia and Panama. But it was on a luxury trip to the Bahamas with the show's sponsor-title owner presiding and credit-carding our way through some of the most expensive places you've ever seen in your life ... that's Tiger Wood's yacht... it was there that the unexpected and violent spasms of danger and chaos left their mark.
Sitting at Compass Cay after securing the tower and making other minor repairs to the 32-footer, we found ourselves wandering what this meant for our production. Slowly, we motored towards the dock at the center of that message; "Get to the point. Stick to the point. Welcome to Black Point."
This was not the Exumas you see on the postcards. And little did we know, our problems were just getting started.
The trip began three days before and bad omens started claiming victims as soon as we'd left the Miami skyline over the horizon.
TO BE CONTINUED.