If, like me, you are attracted to the melancholy of places that time has left in its wake, then you might like Great Harbour. Looking back, halted there as we were by the winds, it feels like we were trapped in a kind of still life, cast in the mellow glow of a 70s postcard. We made friends with a young couple from Montreal and toured their boat. We walked across the island to a long, white strip of sand called Sugar Beach where Chris went skinny-dipping. We borrowed some old bikes from the marina and went looking for ice cream. And on our last day we went up the hill to explore the ruins of the clubhouse. Our Dozier’s 2014 Waterway Guide says:
“A short walk farther east and up the hill brings visitors to the ghostly remains of the Old Sugar Loaf Lodge, built by the Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford. It was their private playground for friends like Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall and Angie Dickinson.”
It’s hard to imagine what combination of hard times and bad weather this island must have seen to reduce this once incredible structure to bare bones concrete and stone. Only some ductwork, the stoves in the kitchen and some electrical panels seem to have escaped the hands of scavengers. Though when we wandered up along a concrete walkway suspended over the road, which appeared to have been a lighted path to the clubhouse from the east, we found the custom-wrought stainless steel railing still in tact.
“Musing over what is left of the incredible stone lodge structure,” the Dozier’s guide continues, “one can only hope that someday it will be brought back to its former grandeur.”
The next day we motored four hours around past several islands now owned by cruise ships, and anchored in the sandy bay on Great Harbour’s east side. In the evening we went to shore and had a delicious dinner at a Bahamian-chic boutique hotel pushed back in the dunes called the CarriEarl, which is run by an English couple in their 60s. Then we got back into our dinghy and Chris and Gabe got into their kayaks and we rowed back to Lemonade under a moonless and star-studded sky. The water below us, when you shown your flashlight into it, was only about 6-8 feet deep and the pale blue-green of a swimming pool.
Although I am attracted by the melancholy of forgotten places, part of that attraction is in the potential I see to revive them back to their former grandeur, as it were. “I could see us doing this one day,” I told Greg. “After we’ve done our fair share of adventuring, maybe in our fifties or sixties, we could retire to an island like this, and own a place like that. Maybe even get sponsoring from the Sinatra Foundation to rebuild the lodge. If we hosted musicians, say. We’d make the place an irresistible destination because of the food and music…”
“Anything is possible,” Greg responded. “Make it happen.”