In the devastating wake of Hurricane Dorian—a massive Category 5 storm that pummeled the northern Bahamas, making its first landfall at Elbow Cay on September 1, 2019—the sport-fishing community rallied to support the people of the Abacos, many of whom lost everything.
For nearly two days, the strongest hurricane on record to hit these islands turned a once lush and welcoming getaway to a flooded group of islands reeking of death and despair. When faced with such devastation so close to home, we often find ourselves asking: “How can I help?” The answer: any way possible. Some help with the donation of time, some by donating money, some help through the power of prayer. And the fishermen? Well, we help in all those ways.
Why? Because that’s who we are. No other industry can claim to be “bluewater brothers.” No other industry is financially prepared to do what it takes to give back to the people who have for many years reciprocated our brotherly love with amazing catches and a lifetime of fond memories.
Months later, the people of the Bahamas are still in urgent need as the recovery effort moves forward. And the Bahamian people will no doubt require support from those outside their own country for years to come.
After being inspired by many of the endeavors choreographed by our own industry professionals, I found myself asking the same question: “How can I help?”
The answer? Use the power of social media to help facilitate this relief and recovery, like many others have done. I began reaching out to many of my fellow lure-makers and big-game tackle companies for help, and never in my lifetime would I have thought the outpouring of support would be so huge; how so little could go such a long way.
After hearing about the Greater Miami Billfish Tournament nonprofit organization’s avenue for cash donations, among other northern Bahamas relief efforts it was involved in, I contacted the organizer, Scott Baxter, with my intentions. He was thrilled.
I created the Lure Makers Bahamas Relief Auction page, and over the course of the next few weeks, as the friends and likes list grew, I compiled a generously donated collection of lures—some specially made in a Bahamas theme—and tackle items with the intent of putting them up for auction. And just as I was ready to start the auction, another box was delivered to my doorstep. And another…and another. I was floored. And to be honest, I was also thinking I was in a little over my head because I never have taken on such a project before.
But with some emotional support, I kept plugging away. I began to separate the products into lots: Some would be auctioned off as single items, and some would be sold as full spreads. I wanted to have something available for all bidders, regardless of the size of their wallets.
This auction was just one of the dozens of ventures underway to support the recovery of the northern Bahamas. And as the emphasis shifts to cleaning up and rebuilding, we focus on what is important. Please assist in any way you can to the humanitarian organizations geared toward helping our Bahamian neighbors. This is—and continues to be—Bahamas Strong. —By Alan Williams, as told to Capt. Jen Copeland
A Note From Marine Artist, Mark Ray
Shortly after the devastation in the Bahamas occurred, I received a call from my friend Jeffrey Lobo of Lobo Lures. He told me about an idea for a lure auction to help raise funds for the residents of the Bahamas and wanted to know if I was interested in producing a piece of artwork to donate to the effort.
As I ran a few ideas through my head, I decided to create a piece showing a large blue marlin rising out of the water after being hooked up. I titled the piece “Rise Up Bahamas” for good reason, in hopes that it would help inspire the Bahamian people, knowing that help was coming their way.
I wasn’t sure what my artwork would fetch, but in the end, the winning bid was $1,000. I’m grateful to all who bid, not only on my art but on the rest of the incredible lures and equipment that were donated.
This auction goes to show the big-hearted, successful endeavor Alan Williams took on. It was indeed a great vehicle for the sport-fishing community to band together. I am grateful I was given the opportunity to contribute.
Read Next: Learn to rig your marlin lures correctly.
A Note From the Greater Miami Billfish Tournament Board Member, Scott Baxter
In the middle of near mayhem, I received a Facebook message: “Hey Scott, Alan Williams is putting together a lure auction, and he would like the GMBT to be the beneficiary.” We were in the throes of organizing and packing pallets for another container of goods collected by our own Bahamas relief effort, and my initial thought was: “Huh? A lure auction?”
After a few minutes, curiosity got the best of me, and I immediately clicked the mouse to find an incredible collection of lures and tackle, the likes of which I’ve never seen. An hour and a half later, I was hooked.
Over the course of a couple of weeks, I followed the auction, even bidding on some of the items, and getting outbid each time. As the auction lots began to close, Williams and I started tracking the money coming in. When we hit the $5,000 mark, I was stunned, but when it was over, the final tally was over $12,000! I was blown away; all this from a simple lure auction.
Thanks to Williams, his band of industry leaders, and those who bid on all the great products, we were able to completely fill a 40-foot shipping container with building supplies and tools. Those funds also paid for the shipping costs to get the container sent over to Marsh Harbour and straight into the hands of our friends who needed it the most.
I have witnessed many efforts aimed at various causes with this nonprofit organization over the years, and I am still stunned at Williams’ overflowing generosity and talents; it’s truly amazing what the human mind is capable of once it determines a goal, and this is a great example of that.
I am happy the Greater Miami Billfish Tournament charity was able to assist the Lure Makers Bahamas Relief Auction in its mission, and to help and encourage others as well. This is just a dent in the Bahamas recovery efforts that are likely to last for years to come, but as they say, every little bit helps.