"What I like about my house," says Richard C. Murphy, a Miami businessman who regularly has the urge to get away from all those people who are getting away from it all, "is the view from the sundeck. When I see a bonefish in the flats down there and feel like doing something about it, I can reach my boat and be after him before he decides to take off for someone else's island."
For Dick Murphy there is no sport like bonefishing, and the sparkling fiats in his own front yard (left and below) are the best bonefish waters he knows. Fortunately for a man who finds fish, family, water and sun company enough, the rest of the Murphy clan is just as keen about the water and its pleasures. His wife, Marion, prefers to take the family Chris-Craft out toward Bimini where the marlin run. When their sons, Dick, 24, and Dale, 20, can borrow the boat from their mother, they skin-dive and water-ski from nearby beaches.
The Murphys didn't build their vacation from vacationists without some effort. They chose for their retreat a small Bahamas island of the Berry group called Frazer's Hog Cay, 153 miles east of Miami and 37 miles northwest of Nassau. Such remoteness has its drawbacks: the island is a 1½-hour charter flight from home base, and it is in British territory, obliging Murphy to go through all sorts of immigration formalities every time he wants seclusion.
There is no shopping—he has to fly over all the food his family will need, except for the fish they catch—and even then the British will not allow entry of fresh fruit and vegetables from Florida. For fresh water, a big problem on most small islands, a well had to be drilled through the extremely hard island limestone. Luckily the Murphys struck a spring only 12 feet down.
Heavy timbers for construction of the house were sent to the island by ship, but even so it took 44 plane trips from the mainland to bring in additional materials and appliances—and that didn't make things any cheaper. All rock for terraces and walls was hewn from the hillside. The Murphys' architect, a young Floridian named Peter Jefferson, perched the jutting deck 55 feet above the sea as much for practical reasons as for effect. By keeping the decks above the foliage he surmounted an island disadvantage—sandflies. From the living room one has the sense of being on a ship, looking out to sea. The skeleton of beams above the rear deck provides structural rigidity in high winds and defines the open sky.
When the Murphys moved into their house last May the population of Frazer's Hog Cay rose to an alltime high—17 persons. Of 700 islands and 2,400 cays in the Bahamas only Frazer's and a couple of dozen others are inhabited. That leaves more than 3,000 opportunities for solitude beneath the Bahamian sun for the rest of us.
Living-kitchen-dining area (below), with walls of island limestone and red cedar, focuses on the sea. Parasol-ribbed roof of sundeck (opposite) is of southern pine; outside wall is of unpolished cedar, already weathering the color of driftwood.