Written By Timothy Mykale Smith
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas held a rich history in the rum running business. When the American Civil War ended a movement began by the Volstead Act in the year 1920 to prohibit the sale of rum and other types of alcohol. The act was appealed in 1933 but during this era Bahamian families from Bimini and Grand Bahama also known as West End gained fortune from the smuggling of alcohol into the United States. The island of Bimini was however a more popular spot for rum-running due to its close location to Florida.
A rum running cargo ship from this time still exists as a landmark near Bimini. The ship was called the S.S. Sapona. This concrete-hulled cargo steamer was built by the Liberty Ship Building Company in Wilmington, North Carolina as part of a fleet during World War 1. However the war ended before the ship was finished. Since steel was in high demand due to the time frame it was sold for scrap to a man named Carl Fisher a developer in Miami Beach. It was then used as a casino then oil storage.
Later in the year the Sapona was purchased by a man called Bruce Bethel in 1924. Bethel was moving the ship to Bimini as storage for alcohol during the Prohibition era. His intentions of the future were to turn it into a floating nightclub but unexpected events occurred. In the year 1926 it ran aground and broke down in a hurricane so therefore was abandoned.
As the years passed the ship was used as target practice for the U.S. navy now a navigational landmark for sailors and a popular diving site.