A Trip to Andros Island in the Bahamas


Knowledgeable parents understand the value that a fleeting experience can have on the future of a child. My first travel by airplane inspired a life-long ambition to travel and fly which began with a belated sixteenth birthday trip to Andros Island during the mid sixties.


After serving in the military for over twenty years, the transition to civilian life was a tough one for my father. At forty years old, he was too young to retire and too set in his ways to take an entry level job. He took a few courses at the local junior college and disagreed with the know-it-all professors whose liberal views agitated him. Selling life insurance and collecting premiums on a debit route was not his thing; nor was working as a district manager for the Miami Herald newspaper. No ordinary job could fulfill his love of the ocean or quell his wandering spirit.

Andros Island

A markerAndros Island -
Andros Island, The Bahamas
[get directions]

When he found the job with AUTEC, Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Center for RCA in research, it finally fit the bill with elements of seagoing journeys, far away from the mundane and lots of alone time to read his ever-present paperback novels. Rather than extended duty out to sea, this job took him to a small island in the midst of the Bermuda Triangle where he commanded expeditions on a former torpedo carrier decommissioned from the Navy.

Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) dedication in 1969. Captain Jackson, Mrs. Jan Jacobson Carter, George W. Jacobson, Jr., Mrs. Jacobson, and Admiral Brush in front of Jacobson Hall after its dedication by Admiral Brush.
Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) dedication in 1969. Captain Jackson, Mrs. Jan Jacobson Carter, George W. Jacobson, Jr., Mrs. Jacobson, and Admiral Brush in front of Jacobson Hall after its dedication by Admiral Brush. | Source

Caribbean Music

Andros Island, an archipelago or group of islands, is considered the largest island in the Bahamas approximately one hundred eighty five (185 miles, 248 km) east of Miami. To me, it was little more than a dot on a map, covered with thick foliage and nestled in the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Bermuda Triangle

By Danilo94 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Danilo94 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

RCA was conducting deep water sonar experiments using old military ships acquired from Navy Surplus. Dad would get a trip home every third weekend, arriving around midnight on Thursday’s Red Eye flight. Our family would pile into the Rambler station wagon heading to Miami International Airport from South Miami where we lived following his retirement. Unlike travel these days, air travel was an event where people drove their family members to the airport, parked the car, walked to the departure lounge and kissed their relatives goodbye at the gate.

Old Torpedo Transport Ship


We would wait for his arrival curbside scanning the crowd for his familiar face as we staked out the baggage claim doors. Once he slid into the driver’s seat he’d take us to his favorite burger joint, Royal Castle, where we’d drink coffee and eat honey buns while he enjoyed a late night meal. Our school night bedtimes were extended for these special arrivals.

Sunday night, we’d return to the airport somber in the gloom as we replayed our airport run, returning Dad to a flight back to the island. Catching sight of his travel bags by the door would send our family dogs into a state of depression lasting for days after his departure.

Dedicated to the One I Love

My First Trip to the Island

The flight attendant went about her flight check preparations before making the passenger announcements from the front of the plane. I hung on her every word, as only a novice flyer would. Unfamiliar with the repetitiveness of the process, I was immediately hooked.

The flight from Miami took us through clear blue sky with clouds so close you could reach out and touch them. Being in the air solidified my plan to become a flight attendant one day. What a job that would be flying among the clouds serving food and beverages to passengers, closing the overhead bins with a graceful dignity and style, smiling for hours on end.

The view from the window of a 737 jet.
The view from the window of a 737 jet.

The small, noisy plane made the forty-five minute flight far too fast before descending to the tiny airstrip on Andros Island. We waited inside the stifling plane to gather our personal belongings, then, queued up to exit to the tropical paradise outside. From the port window, I watched the ground crew roll stairs under the cabin door.

Below on the tarmac, wavy lines rose from the asphalt while the sun baked the black surface. Passengers were gathering under the wing of the plane in the only visible patch of shade. Two native men unloaded the luggage onto a rolling trolley from the storage compartments on the plane’s fuselage. While we stood impatiently waiting for our bags we could hear the melodic voices of the men laughing and joking. We had entered native time where everything moved with the sway of palm trees and soft breezes.

I spotted my canvas duffel teetering at the top of the pile packed with everything a teenager would need crammed into the small bag. Glancing around the tiny airport, I grabbed the bag from the trolley and studied the landscape. The place was little more than a landing strip, with a couple of Quonset huts and small structures lined up in a row to one side. The unimpressive hangar housed a couple of old prop planes in deep stages of repair, their derelict fuselages depicting an era of simpler things and times, a step back in history.

1940s Vintage Quonset Hut
1940s Vintage Quonset Hut | Source

I glanced into the distance where a dust cloud rose above the trail leading toward the collection of tin structures and watched a lone car make its way down the road. Dad had written that he found an old rust bucket of a jalopy on the island, and after much bartering and late night automotive work, he had replaced most of the non-operating parts. The air conditioning had not been one of the critical tasks before getting the car on the road. As we drove away from the small airport, beads of sweat formed in the sweltering heat, and trickled down our necks.

Our family boat when we lived in the Keys
Our family boat when we lived in the Keys

My mother, fatigued from the early departure and traveling, retired to the coolness of the small apartment Dad occupied as part of the job package. While she napped, he and I took off in the old jeep and toured the island beginning with a small commercial area where a smattering of businesses operated. Dad arranged for us to go fishing early the next morning so we stopped in at the island’s version of 7-Eleven and got cold drinks and supplies for the expedition.

This would be my first venture aboard a vessel other than our seventeen-foot fiberglass boat used for fishing trips when we lived in Key West. We would be aboard a former Navy torpedo transport ship fishing over one of the deepest parts of the ocean, a mile deep hole in the ocean known to the locals as Deep Moor.

Blue Holes of Andros

We cruised by the dock where I spotted the only young person I’d seen on the island so far. Mesmerized by electric blue eyes that locked onto mine, I begged my Dad to introduce us. The silent exchange and attraction was apparent to Dad who succeeded in keeping me away from Danny who’d suddenly become public enemy number one. Looking back, I realize that Father did know best and he undoubtedly kept me from losing more than just my patience with a disciplinarian parent guarding my virtue. If there was one thing Dad understood implicitly, it would be the base intentions of a young sailor in a remote port. It would take years before I forgave him.

Time Won't Let Me

This visit to the islands was a birthday present which turned lucrative for me as well as an adventure to remember. For reasons my mother never knew, the house would be cleaner upon her return than when she left for a visit to the island. Mom would lavish praise on my older brother for managing the household effectively while I snickered in my purchased silence.

That was the year my brother, a junior in high school, earned a reputation as King of the Keg. His social life blossomed with the parties thrown in the family’s house during our absence. He smartly arranged for his girlfriends to clean with a fury following any parties he hosted at our home. While the cat’s away, the mice will certainly play. It would be one many secrets we would share as children.

Notes and Sources

  1. AUTEC, Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center
  2. Wikimedia Commons Images
  3. Bermuda Triangle history

© 2016 Peg Cole

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Comments 16 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 days ago from Olympia, WA

If it keep raining here, I'll be able to float from Olympia to Andros Island....just sayin' LOL

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 7 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello birthday boy, did someone leave your cake out in the rain? Hahah. Hope the skies clear and you don't float away.

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 7 days ago

Glad you had such an adventurous birthday get away, thank you for sharing it with us your followers.

Blessings and Hugs my friend.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 7 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Thank you, Shyron, for taking time to stop by and leave such a nice comment. We were traveling from FL to TX on my actual sixteenth birthday so this trip was a bit late but memorable after all these years.

Blessings and hugs to you, friend.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 days ago from USA

Your dad understood what was on that young man's mind. I enjoyed reading about your far-flung adventures. It looks like a beautiful place. I'm glad your dad found a job that allowed him to be himself.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 7 days ago from Jeffersonville PA

I appreciated learning the early roots of your dream to fly the skies, dear Peg.

Smiling at your reaction to your Dad's protectiveness...'Danny' could be on America's Most Wanted List now for all you know...whew!

I'm thinking your parents had their hands full with you and bro... ;)

You know I want to read much more from you...in the way of memoir.

The videos that show the underwater universe are mesmerizing. I am planning to enjoy the collection of Jamaican reggae music over the weekend - what a happy and relaxing thought.

PS - LOVE 'Time Won't Let Me'... your musical selections are always A+

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Flourish, Yes, looking back, I believe he did me a great service in protecting me from bad decisions. The young sailor wanted to take me to the movies and Dad said, "Not no, but hell no." LOL He said that a lot.

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Peg - What a wonderful life. I enjoyed reading your adventures on the island. Your father, who you have often mentioned, found his place in the world. He loved the sea, he loved his family and he taught you many good lessons. This is a great American story.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

That's a good one, Maria - America's Most Wanted. It might be, you never know. You're right about my brother and I. We were a matched set right from the early days. I remember the adventures we took into the swamps on the island floating across the marsh on a waterlogged raft. And there was the time he talked me into jumping off the carport. Another story for another time. I do appreciate your continued encouragement on the memoirs. All the best to you.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Mike, thanks for reading these memories about the islands. We enjoyed the tropics for so many years with the ocean a bike's ride away. Back then, Key West was a small isolated place that was a relatively safe haven in which to grow up. Dad had several tours of duty there and it became like home to a family that moved as often as military families do. Thanks so much for dropping by and for the kind words about Dad. I sure do miss him.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 days ago from The Caribbean

Enjoyed the reggae beat while I read. You brought back memories of the airport before all this security scenario. We felt so much closer to the people who left and came. Thanks for filling in the pieces about how you became attracted to the skies. Enjoyable read!

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hi MsDora, I had hoped you would drop by. That selection of music is very relaxing and reminds me of those days on the beach with the sun and the sand. It was a surprise to find an original artist who performed the collection.

I'm glad you remember those finer days of travel when we actually got to see people off for their journeys. Those were the days. Thank you for stopping in to read this.

BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 5 days ago from Victoria, Australia

Oh, that was a delightful tale and I loved reading about it. I've been to Florida, as my husband's sister was living there, but the nearest I got to the Bahamas was when I succumbed to the appeal of a scam cruise and lost my deposit!

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Oh my, BlossomSB, I'm sorry you got scammed on a cruise. I've wanted to take one for years and then I'll see a news report on a ship full of people who became sickened on the food, or someone falls overboard, or a ship loses power in the middle of nowhere, etc.. It makes me a bit skeptical of signing up to get on board.

Thanks for stopping in to read this venture into the past and I'm pleased that you enjoyed the memories.

Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

Kailua-KonaGirl 3 days ago from New York

I loved reading about your past memories. The landing strip reminds me of how in was in the 50's in Hawaii. I wonder if Andros Island is still as beautiful as the photos. I would so love to visit some day. Love the Jamaican music, too. Will have to play more of it when it's not 2:30 AM. LOL.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 days ago from Dallas, Texas Author

Hello Kailua-KonaGirl, Thank you so much. I haven't been there in a long, long time, but when I visited, it was a tropical paradise with bright aqua water and sea breezes. Get some sleep, okay? I have insomnia, too. All the best to you.

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