Interviewer: Bonnie, your parents came to Eleuthera island in 1967. In the late 1940s they owned a schooner and were chartering in the Bahamas during winters and in New England during summers.
When you were born they gave up the charter business and ran a Club at Cape Santa Maria, Long Island, Bahamas.
So, in 1967 your parents moved to Eleuthera island and built the well known Rainbow Inn. It was the first building at the new development of Rainbow Bay.
As an American citizen, you still own a house near Rainbow Inn and consider the Bahamas home. What do you particularly like about Eleuthera...
Bonnie, on the left in her Eleutheran yard: Well, no matter how long or short my absence, I am thrilled every time by the first sight of Eleuthera island from land or sea. From a plane, the beaches and hills and coves stretch out and upon landing the feeling of return, of home, of peace and of contentment never fails to welcome me.
By boat, the low long dark line turns into land and the high grey cliffs lead you the narrow slit in the rock that is the entrance to Hatchet Bay a.k.a. Alice Town. Each time I wonder that the rest of the world has ever called me away and stolen time that might have been spent here.
You can leave and return and it is as if you never left. And the local people you knew will say "hello" as if they saw you yesterday.
My mother and I came into Hatchet Bay by boat, after my father had died. We wanted to renew that connection with Eleuthera. That is when we built the house we have now.
I.: You were a private pilot and had your own planes. What can you tell me that might be of interest to pilots flying to the Bahamas and to Eleuthera in particular?...
Bonnie: Prepare yourself for the distraction of beautiful views on approach. Crosswinds can be stiff especially at Governors Harbor airport - shown above - in the winter, but runway surfaces are excellent.
Eleuthera island is wonderful to explore by air. With the clear water you can see the reefs, the shoals, and of course all the small towns and roads to hidden beaches.
Use the Google search to prepare. And don’t ever "think" you have enough fuel. Top off in Eleuthera; it helps keep the local fuel distributor in business and over the Gulf Stream is no place to run short.
I.: You were also a treasure diver and learned how to find and salvage treasure the "right" way from veteran Harold Holden. Did you do any diving in Eleuthera?
Bonnie: I grew up free diving and spear fishing with a Hawaiian sling. The nice thing about Eleuthera island is that there is diving for every level of experience. A mask and snorkel is really all you need. And there are blue holes and wall dives that are superb but more challenging.
My dream is to one day work in historic shipwreck salvage in the Bahamas. There is so much history to be brought to the surface. However, currently there is no salvage work permitted.
I have a salvage boat and I work on the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet off Florida in the summer. In 2010 I was really successful because I found a solid 5.5-inch-tall gold statue of a bird which is over 295 years old. Diving in Florida is work. In Eleuthera however diving is entertainment.
I.: Who do you recommend as a dive guide to tourists staying in central Eleuthera?
Bonnie: I would recommend Scott Bethel as a fishing or dive guide. His phone number is 332-2718 and he lives in Governors Harbour. Doctor Seabreeze, Eleuthera's famous calypso singer, is Scott's father.
I.: In the 1960s there was a flourishing farm business in the Hatchet Bay area, north of the Rainbow area in Eleuthera. Who built this faming business and why does it not exist any longer?
Bonnie: Hatchet Bay Plantation was a poultry and dairy farm started by the Levy family from England. Eggs, chicken, and milk were shipped to Nassau and then to the other islands.
Times changed and there was more competition from Nassau, Grand Bahama, and imports from the US. The original founders died and I believe the estate did not wish to carry on.
The land has rich, red soil and the Bahamian government is now promoting agriculture (since 2009) and farms are coming back. There is a small goat farm. I wish we could encourage a cheese maker!
Hatchet Bay Harbour has moorings and a nice government dock. Plans for a marina are rumored to be in the works (2010).
I.: How do you see the future development of Eleuthera?
Bonnie: I believe that Eleuthera will find its way very well. There appears to be a growing awareness of the importance of protecting the environment and of looking not just to today but to the future.
Capital investment, tourism, and development bring jobs and prosperity. But a balance must be found with the preservation of Bahamian culture and the natural beauty of Eleuthera island.
It is a task Bahamians are very much up to for they have brought this island from the days of pirates, of British colonialism, and thru the hardships of being a young nation in a modern and changing world.
All of us who are not born Bahamian must realize that we are being granted a privilege to partake of what Eleuthera island offers. It is a very special place.
Bonnie's beautiful oil painting of Twin Beach.
I.: Thank you very much, Bonnie, for your interesting answers to all my interview questions. That was quite a bit of modern history of Eleuthera.