Sometimes, the ship would come slowly, evolving indiscernibly from a tiny, distant spot on the edge of sky into a looming silhouette of sails and masts and bows. The people would watch it closely to determine the ship's heading, and very often they knew a ship's fate before they even knew what flag it flew. The reefs and shallows were permanent and unforgiving, and if the ship was heading toward them then there could be only one outcome. Word would spread and there might even be a whole crowd gathered and waiting for the inevitable wreck, they way they waited for mail. Other times, the Grand Bahamians would wake up and there it would be: a lumbering gift right outside their windows, a wreck as fresh as the morning itself. If you were desperate and had no moral qualms, you could always hang a lantern out at night to lure in a captain in search of a safe passage or harbor. He'd follow the light right onto the reef.  
The hapless captains and crews who survived would always be surprised, mystified by their bad luck, but never the islanders. They would head out to the wrecks in small boats or canoes, whatever they could find that floated. If it was close enough, some might even swim. No time could be wasted, because as soon a wreck showed up, the currents, winds, and grinding reef would begin to dismantle it and scatter its contents. And of course there was always competition with your neighbors. Working as a team and dividing the booty, however, was usually the best way. They would bring ropes to haul up bigger items like chests and barrels. The young and the old would sniff around the beach to see what the waves washed up. A good wreck could be a great larder. There might be nails and tools, casks of rum and ale and salted meats, clothes, shoes, books, blankets, sugar, oil, furniture, rope, fine porcelain and dishware, cutlery, guns and enough ammunition to last a lifetime. If they were very lucky, they would find gold and silver coins. Sometimes, it could take weeks to get it all. At the very, very least, the ship would provide wood.  

And then it would be over. There would be nothing left, save a few cannon that were too heavy or hard to reach. Once in a while, a storm might shake up a wreck and something missed would wash up, years later. The people would gather up what they had salvaged and sell it at a nearby port, or maybe use it themselves. After all the work of wrecking was done, they would return to their homes and gardens and fishing boats, and once again, they would sit and stare out at the horizons that led to Caribbean or the Atlantic, watching and waiting.    


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