himself, a hotel and an airstrip. Shortly after Lehder began pushing the native population and vacationers off of Norman's Cay and gained full control of the island. Following Lehder's arrival air traffic over the small island began to increase and armed guards began patrolling the beaches. In July 1980 a yacht belonging to a retired couple was found drifting off Norman's Cay- blood stains were found when the boat was searched, and a corpse recovered.
As part of the Medellín Cartel, he used the island as a transshipment base for smuggling cocaine into the United States. Lehder, through Norman's Cay, is often attributed with revolutionizing drug smuggling. The typical method of transporting small shipments often carried by human drug mules, either through digestion or in their luggage, onto commercial airlines, was surpassed by the use of small aircraft shipping entire loads of cocaine.
Lehder eventually constructed a 3,300-foot (1,000 m) long runway for his fleet of aircraft. In order to protect the island, armed guards patrolled the beaches and runway, radar was employed and attack dogs. Any pilot silly enough to land there was quickly warned off by heavily armed guards. The island served a strategic point as stop for Colombian drug flights to refuel and rest before proceeding to the United States.
With the Bahamian authorities looking the other way and the local inhabitants scared off, the island became a haven of debauchery for Lehder and his associates. Carlos Toro remembers, "Norman's Cay was a playground. I have a vivid picture of being picked up in a Land Rover with the top down and naked women driving to come and welcome me from my airplane... And there we partied. And it was a Sodom and Gomorrah... drugs, sex, no police... you made the rules... and it was fun."
In 1982, under pressure from US law enforcement, and despite years of turning a blind eye, the Bahamian government began to crack down on the activities on Norman's Cay, ultimately confiscating Lehder's land. It is now a tourist destination that can be reached by charter flight."
After 5 days of gray skies and rain we were ready to check out the large plane awash between Norman Cay's southerly peninsulas. Some how this plane came to rest here during the reign of Carlos. I am sure a watery grave for this plane was not in the grand scheme of things. We were so close the other day and just didn't make it the other quarter mile. Rowing from s/v Gemini Dreams to the old dock was as expected. That is when the tide kicked in and the remaining quarter mile took 4 times as long as it should. The tide had “turned on” against us and with the 15 knot wind. We made it on shear determination as to go this far and not make it was not acceptable even if we had to circumnavigate the whole bay.
Pic Plane before and after 20 years
We hoped it would be a great experience compared to the first two planes we had seen at Staniel Cay. The 25 years or so it has been lying in the bay has taken its toll above the water line where air helps to oxidize the metal. As we entered the water the visibility was low, without a doubt the lowest we have seen yet, even in Morgans Bluff. Then there was only 10% of the life we had hoped for, possible due to the large number of “cruisers anchoring so close by and acquiring dinner. The only thing of notable size was a huge sting ray under the cockpit fuselage. A couple times around and we were bored.
It was Triton's lucky day as he was tossed back into the sea
We boarded and rowed across the channel back to where we saw grouper before the gray days. Hoping for dinner I finally made a hit with the sling to a grouper under a ledge in a coral head. He was hit well but the shaft hit the coral behind him and stopped short of getting the flopper (barb) out the other side. This left us with “what to do”. I tried to use the Fisher Kings pole spear to make another but through shot. No luck. On the second try it was a mute cause. The grouper had freed himself and disappeared deep into the coral head maze. I later saw the Fisher King pull a light lunch sized grouper out a a small coral head not far from the original.