NETTICA (‘NETTIE’) SYMONETTE’S ABACO BONEFISHING LEGACY


NETTICA (‘NETTIE’) SYMONETTE’S ABACO BONEFISHING LEGACY

As a companion-piece to the previous post about Abaco bonefishing, I’ve made a short movie of the final stage of the skiff trip after a day out on the Marls back to Nettie’s Point and the skiff launching / landing ground there. It’s always a interesting ride, and I took the footage just for the fun of it. At very high tide, the channel can (must?) be taken at speed, and end with an 007 flourish. When the tide is low, however, it can be slow progress with the propeller precariously close to the rock for much of the channel’s length… Small crabs scuttle for cover in limestone holes as you pass, and you can see clearly what a huge amount of rock had to be cleared out.

Approaching the mouth of the channel at high tide, with rock spoil on both sides

Then I got to thinking about the originator of this canal cut through rock from the firm ground of the pine forest through to the open sea. ‘Nettie’s’ is named after Nettica Symonette, Eleutheran-born owner of ‘Different of Abaco’, the now defunct bonefishing lodge on the road off the main highway to Casuarina. She was clearly a striking figure – tall, strong-minded, and a passionate promoter of out-island tourism. She must have had plenty of insight into the importance of the natural resources that might make Abaco attractive to visitors, for she was not just a bonefishing pioneer, but also a wildlife enthusiast.

Flamingos and chicks on Inagua, 2012 (photo credit: Melissa Maura)

Nettie attempted to reintroduce flamingos to Abaco as breeding birds (there had been none breeding on Abaco for some 50 years). That involved the relocation of a number of juvenile birds from the National Park on Inagua (see FLAMINGO POST). They were flown to Abaco and resettled in the Casuarina area with their wings clipped. This was 15 – 20 years ago, and I don’t know if there was any successful breeding. I believe further birds were brought over, but for some reason the hoped-for breeding colony did not become established. It’s possible that there were problems with predation, as with the Abaco parrots.

Unhitching a skiff into the boat basin at high tide

Nettie’s lasting legacy is the construction of the canal cut through to the mangrove swamps and the ocean, and the ‘boat basin’ that allows safe launch and return for skiffs. This made possible what must have been very difficult given the geology of the terrain – easy boat access to the prolific fishing grounds over the vast area of mangroves and the labyrinthine water channels that is the Marls. It’s worth the comment that the whole project is entirely natural – it involves no man-made materials of any description. Contrast this with what might have been: concrete, iron, steel, wood – maybe a bit of plastic trim to round it off…

The first skiff sets off for the day…

I don’t know (perhaps someone can help via the comment box or email me) when and how this was done or how long it took, But when you watch the video as it follows the channel’s full length, you will see the rock spoil and appreciate the feat – and the vision – involved. And in places you can also see the shelving rock below the waterline that makes steering a steady central course advisable…

Aha! More arcane music from the Rolling Harbour archive, I hear you say. The music is Preston Reed’s ‘Along the Perimeter’ from ‘Handwritten Notes’ – an astonishing guitarist with a two-handed playing technique that also involves hitting and slapping various areas of the guitar (saves the cost of a drummer). He uses experimental open tunings that are found in no ‘How to play guitar nicely’ manuals. And if you like this, try Erik Mongrain who is simply astounding. Almost a trick guitarist. But I digress…

WHERE THE SEA MEETS THE SKY – A SKIFF ON THE ABACO MARLS


A  SKIFF RIDE TO THE BONEFISHING GROUNDS OF THE ABACO MARLS 

With a film budget of $2 (excluding travel costs to Abaco, incidental expenses at Delphi etc), RH Productions is proud to be able to bring you another movie that is arguably slightly less incompetent than the ones that have preceded it (the wretched STINGRAY; the marginally better BLUE TANG and REEF FISH & CORAL). Parts of this one are almost satisfactory. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end – in that order. And, best of all, it’s only a minute long. So sit back with your tub of popcorn and enjoy… oh, is that it already?

The skiff trip can be as much as 5 miles to reach the best places for bonefishing in the mangroves (I’ll post a video of that later on). The exact location can vary daily and depends on a variety of factors including the state of the tide, the wind strength / direction, and cloud cover. On this day the sea was glassy still; mostly it’s quite a choppy trip across open ocean; and when the wind has whipped up some waves, it is (a) exhilarating and (b) a constant reminder of the thin cushioning on the seats… I mention in passing that apart from topping and tailing the clip, muting the noise of the engine / wind, and adding music, this scene is just as it was live. There’s been no subtle blurring of the horizon or other work done – my editing techniques are far too rudimentary (i.e. non-existent). Best viewed full-screen, if you can find the gizmo (bottom right small square thing)

Music credit to the erstwhile litigious Joe Satriani