and Cuba at dawn during the Second World
War, Ernest Hemingway at the helm of his boat, the Pilar, sailing through the
Bahama Channel. Four binoculars on the watch, searching 360 degrees. No one
baiting hooks or setting out fishing lines. On of the stern of the Pilar, two
20mm machine guns.
Pilar’s war stories are so strange that for many years they
were not believed.
But Hemingway’s friends knew, and the story is now reported
in the official biography of Carlos Baker and in an non-official biography’s by
In May of 1942 Hemingway obtained permission to arm the Pilar for war time
patrol, and provided it with bazookas, grenades, bombs, and two machine guns.
His cover story was that he was doing research for the American Museum of
Natural History, but his real mission, authorized by Spruille Braden, the
American Ambassador to Cuba, was to patrol the Bahama Channel with license to
shoot if he met German submarines that frequented these waters. Hemmingway
organized a crew eight trusted friends, their ironic code name, “Friendless,”
the name of one of his favorite cats.
Where the current of the Gulf meets the Bahama Banks, to the east of Florida,
north of Cuba and west of the Turks and Caicos Islands, lies the Bahamas, 700
islands, large, small, and very small. This is where Hemingway fished and sailed,
where he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea." Also the site of numerous of deep sea
fishing tournaments, where marlin and large sharks look for prey and two
generations of divers have searched along the wall of Bimini for mysterious
traces of a disappeared Atlantis.
The Bahamas are spread between the Tropic of Cancer southwest of Florida in one
of the most spectacular seas in the world. There are approximately seven hundred
islands emerging from the Bahama Bank, an area of coral banks not very deep
until you reach the “Tongue of the Ocean”, a great chasm that sinks into the sea
thousands of meters deep.
The western side of the islands, notable for calm waters, are made of large
expanses of sand, while the eastern side, oriented to the ocean are wild. New
Providence, the main island, is dominated by large hotels. The “Family Islands:”
Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, San Salvador and other smaller cays,
keep the peace of past times.
The Bahama Islands enjoy a tropical climate tempered by north-east trade winds.
Temperatures undergo only minor changes during the year. The average minimum
temperatures varies between 18°C and 24°C, while the average maximum is between
25°C and 32°C.
The Bahama islands have an annual average of 1.15 meters of rain. The wet season
runs from May to October. The hurricane season is between late June and early
November. The most northern and western islands (Grand Bahama, Great
Abaco, Eleuthera and Andros) are cooler, while the southern islands are very hot especially in
tropical summer from June to September when the sea temperature and the air
temperature are roughly the same. The best months for a trip to the Bahamas are
between December and April.
Commonwealth of the Bahamas
Capital: Nassau (New Providence)
Area: 13.940 kmq.
(official) - Creole
Bahamian Dollar (BSD);
U.S. Dollar at par
Zone: - 5 GMT - UTC
A passport is required and is valid for at least six months
Usually three months
Modern pharmacies with a full compliment of prescription and over the
counter drugs are routinely found in Nassau but are not common on the smaller