Fire Island Sundome Project

Fire Island Sundome Project

“Water! Water! We have water!” I yelled, “We did it”. The relief, after many setbacks and months of preparation, flowed over me like the fresh clear drops dripping at my sandy feet.

For a moment I felt like Tom Hanks in Cast Away after he managed to make fire with two sticks. The fire changed everything. It asserted his dominance, if only in a small way over the merciless expanse that surrounded him, there was new hope for life.

“The water will change everything”, I thought to myself.

We found ourselves on Ilha do Fogo (Fire Island). The name makes sense once you have felt the midday heat on this beautiful but deserted island. It’s deserted for a good reason.

Even though the island is lush with vegetation, there is no drinkable water, if you want water you have to bring it with you. A 30km trip as the crow flies on a Dhow, which is a traditional, one masted, sailing vessel. After day three, despite our best laid plans, we realised we are going to run out of water on a five day trip. We had to make a plan.The extreme heat of Fire Island led to most members of the expedition drinking more than the planned quota of water.

When I was a boy I dreamed of being stranded on a tropical island, trying to survive by making smart plans and inventing all manner of devices to make life on the island liveable, even luxurious. I guess many young boys and girls have island fantasies, however this expedition did not quite play out as Blue Lagoon, but more like an episode of the Survivor series.

The main aim of the expedition was to explore Fire Island, for conservation, marine research and potential eco-tourism. The island is a nesting ground for the endangered Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green turtles, of which there are only about 40,000 laying females left. It is an