This Man Is Living Your Tropical Island Dream Life

See all the #InaWeekend Bahamas videos.

Charlie and Joyce Beede are as warm and cheerful as anyone I know, and we laughed at offhand jokes and reflected on the day’s adventure amid the crackling sound of fire and the smell of roasting garlic cooking with the fish. There was a scar here, though, and Charlie wore a T-shirt alluding to its presence, with the words “Survivor of Hurricane Joaquin” across the front.

Charlie Beedy and his dog, Nick, man the wheel house of a small skif; Photograph by Max Lowe
Charlie Beedy and his dog, Nick, man the wheel house of a small skif off Long Island in the Bahamas; Photograph by Max Lowe

Six months before our arrival in the Bahamas, in late October 2015, what was forecasted to be a small tropical storm that was building west of Long Island suddenly gained power and force, escalating to a Category 4 hurricane before slamming onto the coast of the little island community with gale-force winds of up to 150 miles per hour and massive tidal swell that washed fishing boats a mile inland.

Charlie Beede and his wife cook dinner for the team at their house on Long Island in the Bahamas; Photograph by Max Lowe
Charlie Beede and his wife cook dinner for the team at their house on Long Island in the Bahamas; Photograph by Max Lowe

Charlie recounts that he and Joyce were in their living room looking out at the pouring rain when the ocean suddenly just rose up like a wall and slammed through the front windows, flooding their house with three feet of seawater. Grabbing their two cats and dog, they ran to the car and drove for hours, looking for a road that hadn’t been covered by felled telephone poles or swallowed by the sea so that they might take shelter at a neighbor’s house. Cut off from the outside world in every way, they were exposed to the harsh bite of living on a remote island, their house destroyed and positions washed away by the sea. Yet here Charlei and Joyce sit, cooking dinner at the edge of the sea that punished them, still standing proud and obliged to this island that they call home.

For the first half of his life, Charlie had lived on the North Shore of Oahu, riding Pipeline surf break and enjoying a fast life among the buzzing culture of big-wave surfing. When he met Joyce and first came to Long Island, he discovered something he hadn’t known before—a life largely unplugged from the outside world, where daily routines were built on the simple harmony of the ocean and shore.

Adventure filmmaker Tahria Sheather walks into the oldest building on Long Island, dating back to the first Spanish settlers that landed on the island in the 1700s; Photograph by Max Lowe
Adventure filmmaker Tahria Sheather walks into the oldest building on Long Island, dating back to the first Spanish settlers that landed on the island in the 1700s; Photograph by Max Lowe

He let out a sigh when talking about the hurricane and the hardships that he and all of the islanders went through in recovery but said that it hadn’t bent his opinion on a life here on Long Island. A life of daily adventure—where there’s an unhindered openness between the people that call this place home and the wild environment that exists all around it—is something worth fighting through a storm or two to perpetuate. “We’re just going to build our new house on the top of the biggest hill around here, so the ocean can’t get to us next hurricane!” Charlie said, laughing.

See all the #InaWeekend Bahamas videos.

Adventure filmmaker Tahria Sheather looks up into a porthole in the cave complex deep on Long Island, Bahamas; Photograph by Max Lowe
Adventure filmmaker Tahria Sheather looks up into a porthole in the cave complex deep on Long Island, Bahamas; Photograph by Max Lowe

Comments

  1. iain
    Little Rock
    June 9, 2016, 11:30 pm

    You nailed it. That is the island we fell for and got married on. What is amazing is how many times you can visit the Island and how much there is still left to discover. My favorite spot on the planet. Hate to leave but love to go back.