Squeezing everything on Salt Cay into a day was a little bit of a tall order, but we did our best!
The island is famous for its salt industry and there are the old wind (brine) pumps that moved the salty water from area to area on the salinas. There are a complex system of channels and walls that allowed the increasingly salty water to be moved into smaller and smaller reservoirs until, in the last area, it dried out completely and the salt was raked off. The wind pumps could move the water in different directions by opening and closing small sluices. All of the wind pumps have now fallen over and there are scattered remains of at least seven around the salinas.
There are interesting old buildings over the whole island but the Turks and Caicos National Trust has had an involvement in the renovations of the Commissioner’s House – a job that ran into financial difficulties so remains secure but unfinished. The plan is to turn this into an island museum so as to show off both the fine building and artefacts from the island.
The national plant of TCI is island heather (Limonium bahamense) which is not a heather at all but related to sea lavender. This plant grows extensively over the trackways through the salinas along with other highly salt tolerant plants. Waders and other water birds also use these areas to feed and can be seen scattered over the former salt lagoons.
Hurricanes Hanna and Ike hit this island hard and one victim was a pair of ospreys which used to nest on one of the old wind pumps. This pump was blown over along with the telecommunications mast. Undaunted the birds moved to the felled mast, where they remain. There were a couple of other poles put up in other areas of the island to provide nesting platforms, at least one appeared to be in use.