Premiere issue, Volume I
"It's hard to keep a good island down
- two of the fiercest hurricanes in U.S. history have failed!"
Jamie Pratt, Blue Dolphin
Fig Tree Gives Life
to Spare Harbour Lounge
-- Blue Dolphin Homeowner Jamie Pratt
Hurricane Floyd hit Briland hard on September 12,
1999. Apparently, the first half of the storm -- 11 hours -- battered
the beach, leaving most of the islanders alone and falsely confident.
Ninety minutes of calm followed, and then all "hell" broke loose
for another 11 hours on the harbor side. Incredible winds from the
southwest battered poor Front street. That's when the ill-fated
fig tree gave its life to save the Harbour Island Lounge.
A mini-tornado pulled up the Island trademark tree,
broke off a giant limb, threw it into the Landing, and dumped most
of the remainder a foot from the porch of the Harbour Island Lounge.
Yes, the signature fig tree is gone forever. There will be no more
gatherings "under the fig tree," but -- on the other hand -- it's
about time they took the Christmas lights down.
Locals held a celebration in honor of the dearly-departed
giant September 18 at Gusty's. Gus was in full form. The tree was
cut up and divided among the locals. A burial at sea was considered,
but the Brilanders decided instead to keep limbs, branches, roots,
and whatever as life-long remembrances of the many activities witnessed
and protected by this landmark. Life goes on - with a little less
shade - but nonetheless it still goes on. ¨
bring back water supply
-- Local Architect, Glenroy Aranha
Water was cut off following Floyd because there was no electricity
for the pumps on Eleuthera. Local heroes Dashel Roberts, Terry Roberts,
and Mark Saunders came up with a plan. They borrowed Valentine's
Yacht Club's generator and put it on Rudy Higgs' deck barge on Sep.
19 and floated it accross to Eleuthera. There they set it up in
the well field to supply electricity to the water pumps. Two days
later, water was back on. Big thanks for their creativity and initiative.
Other utilities were largely back up and running less than two
weeks after the storm.
One ship sails east and another west
While the self-same breezes blow.
Tis the set of the sail and not the
That bids them where they go.
Churches & Public Buildings
A posting by local architect and civic leader Glenroy
Aranha on September 26 put many minds at ease by noting that churches,
the library, and the new medical clinic came through the hurricane
well, considering what all went through. The Catholic church had
some glass windows broken and some shingles blown off, as did the
other buildings, but nothing major at all, thankfully. ¨
Similar to Andrew
-- Posted online Sept. 21 by Blue Dolphin Homeowner
A gigantic "back hoe" viciously attacked the east side, taking
a colossal bite out of the island. Perhaps 20-30 yards of sand,
flora, and fauna have been reclaimed by the sea. Fortunately, the
"back hoe" stopped short of pulling any homes into the depths, but
it grabbed plenty of walls and stairways, leaving a sheer cliff
from island to beach -- and big chunks of concrete, fallen trees,
and whatever. Dive master Jef Fox can now spit from his living room
into the surf (25 feet below), something that would have taken a
sling shot only a short time ago.
A similar bite was taken from the island seven years ago
when Andrew visited, and it was encouraging to see how quickly the
ocean returned what it had taken (mostly sand). Sea lettuce and
beach vegetation returned quickly.
The "back hoe's" trail is much more prominent on the south
beach, but the ominous tracks are obvious all the way to the far
north -- Funny Pine's house, and her beach is mostly coral now.
Most of the beach owners are of the mind to push the debris up against
the cliff, and let the sand accumulate over time, the strategy most
used after Andrew. Some, however, worry that their homes are just
too close to the edge, and with a sense of urgency may opt to build
sea walls immediately.
By the way, the beach resorts fared reasonably well. Millennium
celebrations will be held at Pink Sands, Coral Sands, Runaway Hill,
and probably Ocean View. In fact, it was immediately suspected that
most would make the November 1 season opening.
Battered but Passable
-- Dunmore Cottage homeowner Richard Haskell and
Blue Dolphin homeowner Jamie Pratt .
Water was knee-high -- for one standing on Bay Street -- for the
entire eleven hours of Floyd, and each wave, one after another,
battered against the walls and homes along the road.
Bay Street itself was reported as looking "as if it
Although the hurricane was generally kind to
the island, a few individuals and businesses are still wrapping
up their repairs. Hardest hit of the resorts was Valentine's Yacht
Club, which completed its repairs just in time for Christmas. The
Landing was able to re-open its restaurant almost immediately, but
room repairs are expected to take until June.
The home of Harbour Island Marina divemaster Jef Fox, which was
perched precariously over the beach, has been shored up with an
array of sandbags best described as looking like a WWII bunker.
And water taxi captain and world-renowned gospel singer "Uncle"
Sam Higgs -- once featured in the Washington Post -- has been able
to re-establish his popular harbour sightseeing and waterskiiing
offerings in short order despite having had his boat washed away
to Man Island.
Locals and Friends
Cooperate in Cleanup
About 200 people got together September 21st, and by
the end of the day, Bay Street was completely cleared of debris. Mid-December
saw the bulldozers arrive just in time to make Bay Street almost
good as new for the start of the holiday season.
Local musician Paddy Lewis died September 27 in a hospital
in Nassau. Paddy was well-known for his work as a singer and guitarist,
and for having founded the Briland Youth Club Association in the
early 1970s. Paddy was a long-time employee of the Batelco
Corporation. Paddy leaves behind wife Renee and several children.
Remember your divinity
and forget the rest.
-- Sign at Ralph's Aura Corner before Floyd
Briland Modem = www.briland.com
took direct hits from World War II bombs all along
an area from the end of the straw stands to just past Crown Street.
These areas include not only the loss of road surface, but worse,
the loss of the entire seawall, so the road has caved in to the
Harbour. It is passable (slowly), but will require a major effort
The homes stood up remarkably well, for the most part. Lots of
plants were damaged and wind burnt, but almost all homes along the
bay reported no significant water damage to structures or contents.
Notable exceptions included "The Grape Vine" and the "Martin House,"
but their damage is reparable.
The Landing was damaged and lost a splendid old tree from its tropical
garden. It seems that in the area of Bay Street south of the Government
Dock, the buildings took it the worst, while north of the Dock,
the road surface is most damaged.
Most of the docks also were damaged, and now are badly in need
of repair - pilings are generally OK, but the planks have been strewn
like match sticks in the wind. The fishermen's dock needs to be
Just as homecoming students, locals, and visitors
were beginning to really depend on their laptops to keep in touch
with the outside world, a 'go slow' by Batelco has brought communications
to a near standstill.
The strike, which began mid-November, has effectively shut down
the most reliable communications provider for all of the Bahamas.
Service has been completely off for many phones and sporadic for
others. E-mail works from time to time, but people have to find
a working phone to use it.
For those off-island, the best way to get information
about the island has been the Briland Modem message board at Briland.com,
described in the article that follows. For getting messages to and
from the island, many travelers to the island use Briland Modem
to volunteer to hand-carry messages. When they depart the island,
they can fax replies to the Board's toll-free U.S. fax number 1
800 861 4606. These replies are posted to the board or otherwise
distributed as appropriate.¨
Briland Modem Leads Communication, Relief Efforts
for Local Area
When Floyd hit, longtime islander Kimberly King-Burns
knew people off-island would be desperate for news of loved ones
and property. So she put to work her skills as founder of a Los
Angeles-based new media communications firm and set up an electronic
bulletin board for residents and visitors, now known as the Briland
Modem at Briland.com.
She rallied the news-gathering and resource efforts of her mother,
long-time resident Sharon King, and sisters Karol King-Black of
Atlanta, Georgia, and Kristi King-Lahache of Paris, France; art
director brother-in-law Gene Black (who designed the logo); and
attorney hubby Elkanah, who created the Briland Modem Relief Fund
as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.
Hundreds of people left messages those first few frantic days,
and Briland.com quickly grew into more than just a lifeline: it
disseminated practical information for the relief effort and established
a fund for contributions to rebuild damaged islanders' roofs. Over
$10,000 was contributed by generous individuals from around the
world. One generous couple in particular donated 5,000 diapers and
baby formula to the Island Nursery. The site has archived
its past, so visitors can browse all the exchanges dating back to
its birth September 16. By the end of October, Briland.com had accumulated
200,000 "hits" by visitors from more than thirty countries around
The success of the site inspired Kimberly to explore expanding
its scope and making it a permanent part of the community, a virtual
Fig Tree of sorts. Teri Murphy enthusiastically signed up
as the site's first ambassador, and put her HTML design skills to
work. And thus was born the new Briland.com with two message
boards, information about local businesses, FAQs for first-time
visitors, and this journal we've named "The Fig Tree" in honor of
our dearly departed friend.
The most important service Briland Modem provided
that first month was creating a safe place for the range of human
emotion after such a storm -- from people letting off steam to others
offering prayers and encouragement -- all of it a celebration of
the spirit of the island. This newly sprouted "Fig Tree" intends
to carry on that spirit.¨
Harried real estate manager Geraldine Albury was reported
looking unusually relaxed during the period after Floyd. It seems
her phone had finally stopped ringing for a while.
Local Resort Updates
For information on reservations, rates, and availability
at your favorite club, please e-mail directly to the addresses below.
If they don't offer e-mail or a general website just yet, get your
message to Geraldine Albury at Island Real Estate via fax at 242
Bahama House B&B - www.bahamahouseinn.com,
Coral Sands Hotel - www.coralsands.com,
e-mail Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dunmore Beach Club - www.dunmorebeach.com
Ocean View Club
Pink Sands - www.pinksands.com
Landing - www.thelanding.com,
e-mail at Landing@aol.com
Romora Bay Club - www.romorabay.com,
email Lionel at email@example.com
Royal Palms –
Runaway Hill - e-mail Carol and Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tingum Village - www.where2stay.com/
Valentine's Yacht Club - www.valentinesresort.com,
e-mail Michael at email@example.com
Coming Next Month:
Look for these stories in our next issue
to be released the first week of January:
- Coverage of Junkanoo, Boxing Day and News Year’s Eve Fireworks
at the Fig Tree
- Is Harbour Island Y2K compliant?
- Ask Miss Ling -- Advice from the island's foremost authority
on manners, morals, and punctuation.
And much more!
How Can You Get
The Fig Tree?
We plan to release a fresh issue of the
Fig Tree in the first week of each month. Here's how to get yours.
are available free of charge online from our
archives at here.
The current issue
is posted on-island and is also available via
e-mail by subscription. In other words, if you send us a check,
you will receive a fresh copy of Fig Tree each month without
having to wait for it to be posted to our free archives online at
the end of the month. You can subscribe by using our online
subscription form or by picking up a form
at Island Real Estate or at Island Services in Dunmore Town. Cost
-- $120 per year
. Special discount
for permanent residents of Harbour Island, $12
per yearProceeds will help us pay local writers, including students
from the All Age School, to encourage their talents. We'd
also like to donate computers -- and Internet access -- to the island
library, All-Age school, and a few community posts up and down yonder.
The Fig Tree is published by the Briland Modem,
located online at Briland.com.
Publisher: Kimberly King-Burns
Editorial Review Board: Glenroy Aranha, Harvey Roberts, Kimberly
King-Burns, Sharon King
Editor: Teri Murphy
Editorial staff: Karol King-Black, Richard Haskell
Reporters: Glenroy Aranha, Elodie Ling, Martin Grant, Harvey
Roberts, Julie Ullrich
Proofreader: Andy Murphy
Your Byline Here:
Hey, Hemingway used to fish the waters of
the Bahamas ... which obviously inspired his phenomenal works.
Let us know about an island topic you've been yearning to write
about. Our "coconut notes" editorial team needs both articles
for this monthly journal Fig Tree as well as pieces to help
us fill out the remainder of the Briland.com web site.
So don't worry if you've never written before or
if your spelling is a bit rusty. Our editors will help you out.
And one day soon, we may even be able to offer pay. Just pick one
of the topics below or a similar one of your own. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
to get started, or send a fax toll free to 1 800 861 4606.
*Colorful Characters - Profiles of Big Red, Harvey Roberts,
Brother Gundy, et al.
*Music of Briland and the Bahamas - Ronnie & The Ramblers,
Peanuts Taylor, Funk Gang, Baha Men, Sweet Emily, Percentie Brothers
*The Briland Experience - Stories about "What Briland means
*Historical Tid-Bits - Perhaps including a "Did You Know?"
section edited by the students at the All-Age school.
*An Artist's Perspective - Regular reviews and interviews
with artists, with links to their sites so people can purchase pieces.
Dive In! - Review of the hottest dive spots, interviews
with local dive masters.
*Briland Recipes - Includes a recipe of the month like conch
salad or peas and rice. Sales of the Briland Modem Cookbook
on and offline will support activities of the Briland Modem Relief
Fund, e.g. Internet access costs for the school, library, and various
*Libations - Interviews with island bartenders
and recipes for their special concoctions: Goombay Smash, Gusty's
Bahamian Relaxer, Bahama Mama, Brennie's B-52 Bombers, etc.
*Eco-Briland - Knowing and caring for Briland's
flowers and fauna.
*Coverage of Special Events: Bahamian Independence
Day, Regatta Review, Junkanoo, Goombay Festivals.
*Soon Come: Travel Tips – How to get to Harbour
Island, what to bring, taxes, currency, links to travel agents,
special deals, etc. Various languages as correspondents are available.
*Shopping - A list of all places to shop
on Briland. Each month features a different spot.
*Food/Where To Eat - A comprehensive list
of restaurants and cafes on the island, and a review of a different
place each month.
*Hotels/Rentals - Where To Stay - A comprehensive
list and review of a different place each month.
*The Briland Eye/Picture This! - Photo gallery
section, updated monthly.
*Bahamian Calendar – Available for sale in
November, December, January.
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