What happened to Camp Driftwood?

in Adventure Travel / Bahamas / Sailing the World
sailing bahamas shroud cay

It’s always a little unsettling when we pull into a popular anchorage to find it completely empty. All I can think is “Why is no one else here? Is there something we don’t know?”

We got our answer, though, as we bounced and jerked in the waves trying to get Hideaway tied onto her mooring ball in Shroud Cay. The winds were blowing 20 knots from the west and we had no protection in the mooring field on the west side of the island. We knew this would be the case before we left Norman’s Cay, but we were counting on the winds to die down to 5 knots that evening. And as long as the forecast was correct, we would be comfortable again by nightfall. Getting to shore during daylight hours on a bouncing dinghy in the meantime, however, was a challenge.

The plan was to stay one night in Shroud Cay and get to a protected harbor in Warderick Wells Cay early the next day before the gale-force winds in the forecast blew through Saturday night and kept us tied down again for a while.

And Shroud Cay seemed like as good a stopover as any, since it was highlighted in our Cruising Guide to the Exumas with a long paragraph devoted to the history of “a very special place” there called Camp Driftwood, which was described as impossible to describe. Apparently Camp Driftwood has been on Shroud Cay since the 1960’s, when a sailing hermit named Ernest Scholtes stayed on his boat in the anchorage and built the place, little by little, with pieces of driftwood, shells, seabeans, floats and colorful bits found on the beach.

But all we found were two totem poles, presumably marking the path up to Camp Driftwood, and a string of discarded beer bottles leading us up the hill like some kind of alcoholic bread crumb trail. Except when we got to the top, there was nothing there but a gorgeous view of the beach. No picnic table made of driftwood or works of art made from shells and seeds. Just a wooden frame that looked like it once held a plaque of some kind and some more trash.

We wondered if we’d somehow missed a secret path that led to the camp on the other side of the hill. But when we read the description again, it definitely said it was on the ridge at the top of the hill. After all, the U.S. DEA had a camera parked up there from which to spy on Carlos Lehder’s activity on Norman’s Cay. You can’t see Norman’s Cay from the bottom of the hill.

We were stumped. Did someone steal Camp Driftwood? Pack it up to bring back to Ernest Sholtes as a nostalgic gift wherever he resided now? Or did it all blow away in the storm that took down McDuff’s bar on Norman’s Cay?

It didn’t matter, I guess. In the same way that we went to Norman’s Cay to find a burger and instead found a sunken plane to snorkel around, I guess we went to Shroud Cay to find Camp Driftwood and instead found a beautiful, completely secluded beach.

But if anyone knows what happened to Camp Driftwood, please do tell…

shroud cay bahamas creek

Arriving to the end of the creek in Shroud Cay

shroud cay bahamas beach

Mighty Mouse, beached near Camp Driftwood, at the end of the creek

bahamas sailing shroud cay beach

Just us…and our footprints in the sand

camp driftwood totem pole

If only this totem pole could talk…

totem pole camp driftwood

Yep, this one’s not talkin’ either

sailing bahamas shroud cay beach

No Camp Driftwood up here…but the view is gorgeous!

bahamas sailing shroud cay creek

Nope, no Camp Driftwood over here, either. But the view is still gorgeous!

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • Jay February 20, 2013, 9:45 am

    Wow,…Shroud looks beautiful guys….safe journey to Warderick!

  • Mid-Life Cruising! February 20, 2013, 10:14 am

    I have no idea where Camp Driftwood is, but you’re right … a gorgeous view!

  • Sarah and Ben (@BlueWaterDreamn) February 20, 2013, 5:24 pm

    Wow! I could look at these photos all day, the colour of the water is mesmerising!

  • Bob baker (visiting Normans Cay) where daughter lives) February 21, 2013, 11:17 am

    The park authorities took it down about a year ago when they cleaned off the cay. It was not as romantic as the brousures made it out to be. Hope u enjoyed the iguanas !!

    • Tasha April 3, 2013, 9:29 pm

      Ahhh. Damned guidebook. That must be the third thing it highlighted that doesn’t actually exist anymore. They need an editor, I tell you!

  • Bob baker (visiting Normans Cay) where daughter lives) February 21, 2013, 11:19 am

    The dauphin fishing is now in season. Imagine that for dinner !!

  • Bob baker (visiting Normans Cay) where daughter lives) February 21, 2013, 11:20 am

    We’re here from Pennsylvania until the 26th

  • Drena February 26, 2013, 5:27 pm

    i noticed that you have been instagram-ing less and less… with views like these, you don’t need all of those filters! amazing.

    • Tasha February 26, 2013, 10:11 pm

      Hey Drena!
      My iPhone doesn’t work out here at all, so I just don’t get the chance to get on Instagram like I used to! I’ve completely fallen in love with both my Canons, though… my Rebel and my new small camera I got for my b-day. A good camera really does make all the difference! xx

  • Rob Thompson October 9, 2015, 10:11 am

    Stunning pictures!

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