You may have noticed I’ve got a bit of a thing for “desert islands.” This is actually among the less hostile of the uninhabited bits of dirt in my Google Earth collection, and in fact if you went here you would probably find it quite picturesque and relaxing. It’s called Meeks Patch (no apostrophe) and it lies between the larger islands of Eleuthera and Royal Island, in the Bahamas. No one lives here and the only way to reach it is by boat; most of its visitors arrive by sailboat. There are some limited facilities on the island; years ago I found a travel blog from some Caribbean vacationers who visited this island, and took photos of the moorings, picnic tables, etc., but if the site is still up I can no longer find it. Suffice it to say, nice as it is with its palm-lined beaches and green waters gently lapping against the sand, no humans call Meeks Patch their permanent home.
Though not a well-known place, Meeks Patch has particular resonance in my fiction. In The Valley of Forever, my as-yet unpublished novel which I’ve begun turning into a podcast, a (fictional) ocean liner called the Crowne of the Sovereign Ocean spends several fateful days anchored just off the eastern shore of this island, waiting out a nasty epidemic of norovirus. While waiting to get underway again the ship suffers a catastrophic fire, an event which has curious implications echoing through time, space and imagination. When I began writing The Valley of Forever in 2010, using this scenario as a departure point for the story, I searched Google Earth for a suitably lonely island in the Caribbean, equal parts beautiful and forbidding, for the setting of the story. Meeks Patch is what I came up with. There’s virtually no information on it, at least none that percolates out of the local area. I have no idea of its history, though it must have one. It’s kind of a curious blank, a vessel to be filled in by the imagination, which is why I chose it for my story.
If you know anything about Meeks Patch Island that’s more than the chaff that comes up on a Google search, put it in the comments below. In the meantime, if you haven’t checked out the podcast yet, you should!