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The Legend of Castaway Cay

"In the early 1920s, three explorers and their families set sail to the scattered islands of The Bahamas in search of fame and fortune. Shortly into their adventure. they encountered the winds of a wild ocean storm that landed their ship upon the island now called Castaway Cay.

While at first the troupe was fearful of impending demise, they soon became intoxicated by the tropical beauty of the island.

The leader of the expedition was a professor of paleontology from Chicago by the name of Cecil Chamberlain.

Wormy, as he was called by his friends, was in search of the skeletal remains of a prehistoric sperm whale, the Physeter catodon, which, by good fortune, he eventually discovered on the island. With his search at an end, he decided to retire on Castaway Cay, devoting the remainder of his years to the excavation of the whale.

Professor Chamberlain had hired Captain Sandy Morton, his wife and his sons to lead the crew on their adventure. Captain Morton, having lived his whole life at sea, promised his wife after the storm that he would leave the life at sea to live on land. So the captain spent his days carving signs for the simple streets and rustic buildings that were sprouting up as the castaways made the island their home.

Professor Chamberlain's young protege at the University of Chicago, Dr Max Profitt, had also joined the expedition, but not in search of whales. Max joined to look for sunken treasure. The discovery of a 300-year-old Spanish galleon, laden with gold and jewels, at the bottom of the lagoon was everything he had hoped to find. However, instead of snatching his treasure and returning home, he decided to stay on the island and set up dive trails in order to share these amazing artifacts with others. Gil, the captain's oldest son, and his three brothers opened Gil's Fins and Boats to take charge of the dive trails and all other water activities such as snorkeling and boating.

A third explorer, E'Lan Vital, or "Doc," had signed on board in the hopes of discovering the Fountain of Youth which he thought was on one of the hundreds of Caribbean islands. Though he never found the fountain, he did observe the youthful energy of the island. Content with his findings, Doc decided to open the first island clinic.

Doc's wife, Mere Vital, was a well-preserved beauty who decided that the island (paradise though it was) lacked one of her greatest pleasures - shopping. Determined to offer this added activity to the island's option, and armed with years of experience inspecting goods up and down the Eastern seaboard, Mere commandeered a small island hut that had once been used to store supplies. Her first foray into the mercantile trade was an offering of seashells, gathered from the nearby beach, and painted in rich colors. She fashioned them into jewelry, designed from her wonderful memories of shopping in New York City.

Early into Mere's shell enterprise, cleverly called She Sells Seashells, Professor Chamberlain stepped in as a voice of conscience. His years of scientific study and passion for fossils and artifacts led him to believe that taking shells from the seashore disturbed the natural ecological balance of the island and robbed countless sea creatures of their homes. He therefore persuaded Mere to pursue another product for her shop. She, determined to succeed, reluctantly crossed out the word "Seashells" on the sign she had hung across the front of her shop and set out to create products that reflected the essential quality of the island paradise.

Shortly after the castaways had landed on the island, they befriended a local man named Grinz Alott. Grinz showed these city folk the way of the island, from following local customs like the great Junkanoo celebrations of the Bahamas. It was the essence of this festival that Mere decided to capture in the costumes and clothing sold at her boutique. The change proved profitable not only for Mere but also for the ecological well-being of the island.

Another enterprising woman among the castaways was Marian Profitt, the young wife of Dr Max. Early on, she saw the need to educate the children of the island, as the castaways brought nearly a dozen with them. Marian set up Discovery Tents in a sandy cove near the whale dig, a convenient place for the children to study science, nature, music, literature and the culture of this beautiful region. Together she and Professor Chamberlain taught the children conservation awareness so that they would understand the importance of preserving the natural habitat of the island's flora and fauna.

One of her brighter students was her own daughter, Molly, who explored every inch of this tropical wonderland. In fact, it was Molly and her best friend, Seth, who first ventured beyond the wild side of the island to look for the nesting place of the chick carnie. Every day Molly and Seth searched for the bird from sunrise to sunset, stopping only when they heard the dinner bell calling Seth to work.

Seth's father, Cookie, and his family had been the cooks on the ship and later ran Cookie's BBQ, still the only place to get good Southern cooking on the island.

The morning after the castaways landed on the island, Doc was deep in the forest looking for his fountain of youth but found instead a man asleep in the cockpit of a downed plane. Cameron (Cam) O'Flage was an expatriate from Australia and an island hopped in The Bahamas. He had run out of gas during the storm but landed safely in the marsh on the island. The castaways gave him some of their supplies, and Cookie shipped up Cam's first real meal in weeks. Wanting to give something back, Cam opened and outfitted the bar down at the end of the runway, using parts from his downed plane. Out of respect and gratitude for the hospitality of his new friends, he names it the Castaway Air Bar.

When supplies were getting low and word was getting out about the island paradise the castaways built, they contracted with locals to build a "real" runway as opposed to the one carved by Cam's plane the night he arrived. This and the boat dock were the castaways' connection to the outside world. When air traffic was no longer needed, they marked an "X" on the runway and grounded the two Beechcraft planes, one on each end. From that point on, they relied solely on the sea for outside contact, including mail.

The Castaway Cay Post Office was opened by May. B. Tamara, the first postmistress of Castaway Cay, who fell in love with and eventually married one of Captain Morton's sons. The wedding was a lively celebration; people came from miles around to be part of the festivities. Cookie cooked an authentic Southern meal, Grinz told stories. Mere designed May's dress. Cam served the champagne. Molly and Seth were the flower girl and ring bearer, respectively. And Captain Morton presided over the ceremony."

 


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