ABACO’S ‘HOLE-IN-THE-WALL’ BEFORE SANDY DEMOLITION: FIRST & LAST EVER IMAGES


ABACO’S HOLE-IN-THE-WALL BEFORE HURRICANE SANDY DESTRUCTION

THE FIRST & LAST EVER IMAGES OF A GEOGRAPHICAL LANDMARK

This post follows on directly from my PREVIOUS POST about Hurricane Sandy’s destruction of Abaco’s Hole-in-the -Wall rock ‘bridge’. Thanks to Abaco resident Jack Bowers, his camera and his kind permission, I am able to show what are almost certainly the very first and the very last pictures of Abaco’s Hole in the Wall aka ‘Hole in the Rock’, the landmark rock formation at the southeastern tip of the island.

THE EARLIEST KNOWN PICTURE OF HOLE-IN-THE-WALL

The earliest picture that I have been able to trace is a fine nautical aquatint dated 1803 by J.Wells based on a shipman’s sketch. There’s more detail about it in the previous post, but for the full details of this picture, its origin, and a very early description of  one of Abaco’s best-known features CLICK HOLE-IN-THE-WALL AQUATINT 

THE LAST PICTURES EVER TAKEN OF THE HOLE IN THE WALL, ABACO

Jack Bowers and some friends visited Hole-in-the-Wall a week before Hurricane Sandy swept in from the south. He writes “I hiked all around (and foolishly IN) the Hole on 10/17/12, a week before its demise. I may have the last photos taken of various aspects of it, if needed. I noticed some serious cracks (mostly on the proximal side of the arch) and placed my feet carefully away from them, but the collapse did not seem this imminent. I also shot some nice shots of the lighthouse from the distal point of the rocks (a shot not easily obtainable now). Trying to find a positive, the new “Window” should provide some spectacular new splashes that the arch used to largely contain”. Please note that the very fine photos below are all ©Jack Bowers

The ‘Land’s End’ promontory of Abaco, taken from the lighthouse station. The Hole is (was) near the tip.

Looking back to the lighthouse on the hike south

Rough seas ahead…  foreshadowing the later rock destruction                

A last view of ‘Hole in the Wall’ as it used to look….     

The dramatic view from below the arch – it will never be seen like this again…

ABACO’S CHANGED GEOGRAPHY AS FROM 10.24.12 FOR ALL ETERNITY

HOLE-IN-THE-WALL: LATE PLEISTOCENE EPOCH to LATE OCTOBER 2012

Very soon after these photos were taken, the history of the Hole and the geography of Abaco abruptly changed. The weather worsened, Tropical Storm Sandy gathered strength north of Cuba to reach hurricane force, and a week later the rock arch had been simply smashed into the boiling sea by the combined power of wind and the water. It seems unlikely that in the intervening week, with a major storm approaching, anyone else will have made the long rough drive 15 miles along the track to the lighthouse, traversed the difficult terrain of the promontory, risked the increasing winds and swelling seas, and calmly toted a camera at the underside of the arch. So unless and until I hear otherwise, I shall consider Jack’s pictures to be the final record of an Abaco landmark known to sailors for many centuries, mapped by name since 1738 (or earlier), first depicted in 1803 and probably in existence since the last ice-age. R.I.P. (Rest in Pieces)

AFTERWORD: DOES THIS SORT OF THING HAPPEN OFTEN ON ABACO?

Yes. As elsewhere in the Bahamas or indeed any hurricane zone. Here’s an example from last year demonstrating the power of Hurricane Irene, which also scored a direct hit on Abaco. The top photo is a shot of the Delphi Club beach at Rolling Harbour looking south, taken by me in early 2011. I have cropped it to enlarge the view of the large rock in the sea beyond the small bay on the middle left. It’s a substantial, solid, slab visible at all tides.

Hurricane Irene passed directly overhead on August 26 / 27 2011. Here’s my photo taken this year, showing the rock with the centre blasted out during the storm. Impressive damage! (That little piece of foreshore needs a clean-up… most of that stuff looks like plastic junk / nylon rope etc, the sort of detritus that takes a mere century or three to degrade…)

10 thoughts on “ABACO’S ‘HOLE-IN-THE-WALL’ BEFORE SANDY DEMOLITION: FIRST & LAST EVER IMAGES

  1. As to a name, my logic says “Sandy’s Cay”, or “Sandy’s Rock”. By the way, I noticed in the Aquatint picture that the outside rock was nearly as high as the tip of “TheWall”. It’s mostly awash now, but I wondered if it ever had a name?

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    • Yes, I like that too. There have been several suggestions. I could have a poll, but experience suggests that people are to busy to bother… My hunch is that there were no other names, or at least not in recent (post-1800!) times: the name HitW was all-embracing for the feature, the navigational landmark, the area and in due course, the lighthouse complex. I’ve a vague recollection of one map with a second name in that area – I must go back and check

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  2. Living in the UK the full extent of hurricane damage is never realised, but these before and after photos are incredible – I never realised a hurricane could have this much force against solid rock. I hope you weren’t too badly affected by Sandy?

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    • I posted a photo of the most dramatic outcome (for Abaco) yesterday – the first view of an iconic feature simply blasted apart by wind and rocks. It has endured since the lasted ice age… [PS remember, I live in West London most of the time... bother that breeze!]

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    • I’ve never been up close, so no idea if it had erosion / structural faults. But it’s quite a dent in solid-looking rock, for sure… Hope Sandy didn’t hit you too badly at ‘Tall Trees’. RH

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    • Hi Trish. Yes… but on the plus-side there’s a brand new islet to name. ‘Sandy Cay’, maybe? Aren’t you both going out any day now? PM’s latest news-flash suggests the post-Sandy fishing is truly excellent – even off the beach. Look forward to seeing your joint catch return!! xx

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