Offbeat news and upbeat thoughts from Dunmore Town
Harbour Island, Bahamas
Volume 5 - August
The Fig Tree is
published by the Briland Modem located online at Briland.com, offering
community news and information for Harbour Island and North Eleuthera,
In this issue:
Briland Family Reunion: July 2000 |Heard
around the islands |Dear
Island District Center
| The Fig Tree -
The Bahamas: International Financial Centre
Storm Season Update
| Briland Fire Brigade
Briland Family Reunion:
Mandy Bolen - Citizen Staff Writer
roots of Key West were personalized over the Independence Day weekend
when more than 200 descendants of Harbour Island residents converged
in town for the annual Harbour Island Family Reunion Picnic. Harbour
Island, which sits at the tip of Eleuthera, Bahamas, was the home
to many families that eventually migrated to Key West. Those families
and their descendants became the earliest residents of Key West's
Bahama Village, and many of those surnames can now be found on both
Harbour Island and Key West.
Jean Sawyer, one such descendant, can trace her ancestry back to
the Bahamian settlement that is one of the oldest in the chain of
islands. She acted as hostess for the hundreds of visitors who share
an island heritage. The annual reunion picnic brings together people
from all over the country who can trace their ancestors back to
Harbour Island, and has been held in Miami, Tampa, New York and
this was the first time in its 24 years that the reunion was in
Key West," Sawyer said, while rattling off locally known family
names that are mirrored in the Bahamas. "All the streets in Harbour
Island are the same family names as in Key West."
Sweetings, the Johnsons, the Majors, the Sawyers and the Careys
- all are names that can still be found on Harbour Island, where
everyone knows everyone else. Even the island's guide books refer
to Harbour Island as the home of the "friendliest people." The descendants
of those friendly people shared a traditional Bahamian picnic Saturday
at Sonny McCoy Indigenous Park, where a guava duff pastry dessert
was brought directly from the islands, along with the popular pineapple
was wonderful," Sawyer said. "I meet new people every year."
year's attendees included Hansel McGee, who came from the Bronx,
N.Y., where he is a state Supreme Court justice, as well as Leanore
Higgs, the oldest living Harbour Island descendant at 98 years old.
The group also was proud to welcome Theresa Manuel to the reunion.
Manuel was the first Floridian to ever compete in the Olympics.
She competed for the U.S. Olympic Track Team in 1948.
works with straw weavers from North Eleuthera and Harbour Island
to produce the high-quality one-of-a-kind grass works that her
Bay Street shop offers.
and Darrell Johnson's popular grocery store on Dunmore Street,
catty corner from Arthur's Bakery.
Mather makes some of the hottest homemade sauces in the world,
and bottles them for sale at her shop on Pitt Street.
Higgs displays her straw handicrafts proudly at her Bay Street
showcase. Neeka's mother Curline is one of the island's most
senior straw weavers.
around the islands:
Passport to Nassau? It
is being mooted via the Coconut Telegraph that travel on Bahamasair
within The Bahamas may only be possible if you have a document with
photo ID. The problem is, the only two documents Bahamians have
that feature photos are voters cards and passports. Children, of
course, do not have voters cards and many do not have passports.
Stay tuned for updates.
Moncur Wins NCAA Title:
Bahamian Avard Moncur of Auburn won the men's 400m title
in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships held in Durham
NC in a time of 44.72 which set a new national record, a new school
record and was the third-fastest time in the world this year.
Bahamian Labour Hero Dies:
Sir Randol Fawkes, a prominent labour activist, died at
the age of 76 at Lyford Cay Hospital, Nassau, of heart disease.
Sir Randol was known as the father of the Bahamian labour movement
and helped establish Labour Day as a public holiday.
Sabine Hoffman Naus
One of our favourite spots to
eat on Harbour Island is the Dunmore Deli, which is situated on
a busy corner and overlooks the daily hub-bub of tourists and residents
alike. We mostly like to sit at one of the outdoor tables in the
bright sunshine where we enjoy our Italian submarine sandwiches
accompanied by tall cold drinks. One such day, as we were eating,
the ever-present friendly chickens -- usually about 2 or 3 -- flocked
about muttering and clucking and pecking up the crumbs on the ground.
I happened to get up from the table for a moment, and in my brief
absence one of the chickens flew up onto my vacated chair and promptly
began to clean my plate. My husband got a good laugh as he shooed
the critter away and told me about it when I returned. It was a
good thing I had finished my sandwich, 'cos otherwise the chicken
would have done it for me!
For the past year or so, I've been working and
"living" in the world of digital music distribution. This is an
area of high technology and early adopters, and we speak much of
"downloaded music" versus "streaming music" and all the business
mumbo-jumbo that surrounds it. And as I sit here at home in California,
listening to an audio stream of the Bahamas's own ZNS, groovin'
to the sounds of the Bahamas through my computer, I still believe
that nothing is better than sipping a Kalik in the moonlight out
on the old airstrip in Briland, listening to the sounds of the gentle
breezes blowing over the waves, trying to pick up the very same
station on a rental minibus's feeble radio. Perhaps the true reward
such marvels of technology bring us is the appreciation of the community,
due to the many ways we now have at our fingertips to stay connected
to each other.
P.S. You to can groove to the sounds of ZNS Bahamas
Go to Music Radio, Go to International, and ZNS is at the bottom
of the second page. Kalik not included.
Island District Center
by Briland Modem Staff
Harbour Island Commissioner
Rufus Johnson has refurbished the old fire engine house on Gaol
Lane [next to the Post Office, the courtroom and police station]
as a computer-based community center, which now offers classes in
computer instruction, HTML design for the World Wide Web. The community
center is wired for Internet access, and Richette Percentie and
Adele Farqharson are the instructors in charge. Chief Councillor
Harvey Roberts notes that the waiting list for registration for
the computer training extends well past January 2001, and that the
search is on for a bigger space for the classes. In the meantime,
volunteers for onsite afternoon tutorials, weekly classes, and assistance
in the technical infrastructure buildout of the community center
are invited to note their schedule of availability via the Briland
Modem messageboard, for integration into a master schedule for access
by local teachers.
and books donations are always welcome, as the program hopes to
expand beyond its present site. It's easiest to ship all such supplies
to G&G Shipping, 760 NE 7th Avenue, Dania FL 33004, Tel 1 954
920 0306, attention: Richard Monroe. In the meantime, please remember
to clearly LABEL all parcels [marked 'parcel' vs. 'manifest'] for
the Harbour Island community center to show being addressed to Senior
Commissioner Johnson, c/o Customs Officer Wilson, Harbour Island
Community Center. Such clear marking will ensure that your donation
is imported duty-free. All U.S. donors to the Community Center buildout
should inform the Briland Modem Fund of their offering at firstname.lastname@example.org,
as all such gifts will be acknowledged with a receipt for tax purposes,
as the Fund is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
Bert Sawyer owns and operates
supermarkets in Harbour Island and Rock Sound, Eleuthera,
and still manages to set aside a little time for tourism in
his role as part-owner of the Valentine's Yacht Club.
||Eddie Major and Lana Barry celebrate
the opening of Eddie's new harbourfront store, "Tropical Treasures
to Myself Along The Beach '
Jim Reno, Walnut Creek
Looking back upon
my island companions, asleep on stolen beach chairs, drunk from
Kalik and gold rum, I bid them farewell and stumbled alone down
the famed pink sand beach of Harbour Island, Bahamas in search of
The first thing
one notices about this beach is that if there is to be conversation,
you might as well talk to yourself, because there is no one for
miles. Sure, the occasional couple might be walking by now and then,
in search of the same elusive conversation I sought, but other than
that, no one. Okay, there was one Rasta guy. But, I would rather
have exchanged places in life with him, rather than words.
I like walking a
little in the water, up to my shins. Dragging my feet a little to
give the illusion that I have no destination or place to be at a
certain time. Overtly swinging my arms like I did back in the military
years ago. Convincing myself that I just don't care who looks at
me or what they think, like I do so much back at home. I pondered
taking off the only piece of clothing I wore, my swimsuit. But I
immediately thought better of that. I'd need a lot more Kalik to
feel as anonymous as I wanted to, to blend in with the family jewels
on exhibit. So I continued down the beach in search of whatever
one looks for in a beautiful place like this with seemingly one
thing to offer. Absolute nothingness.
There aren't many
shells on this beach. Maybe there are some little ones that the
shellhunters haven't yet borrowed for their Bahamian souvenirs for
sale on Bay Street. Just a few remaining that visitors to the island
hadn't taken home in their bulletproof Samsonite luggage that Mr.
Bo Henghy brought over and will gladly take back.
There were a few
cool-looking sticks and some sandy, earth-compressed rocks and even
one broken sea fan that I left behind, as I certainly had enough
of this stuff at home. My wife had quite a large collection growing
in our laundry room in California, thinking she'd make some composite
craft art piece of our visit to Briland with the scraps she'd found
along this beach last year.
She's an avid shell-hunter,
complete with her beloved Nassau-straw-market-bought-Rasta-guy-made
shoulder bag stowing her treasures as she walks this same beach.
She asked me once if she could do this for a living, hunting for
shells, providing that I won the lottery. Of course, I said yes.
I'd even buy them from her, I said.
It was a warm day
with little cloud cover, but the humidity was high, so I walked
further into the ocean until I was chest-high and feeling relieved.
I dunked my long hair into the clear water and flung it back like
a supermodel, making a dinosaur-back with the water. I think they
may have called him, "Triceratops." Or something like that. I don't
know. It's been awhile since I thought of being like a dinosaur.
Back on the beach,
I walked along the shore and after a while glanced back. How long
had I been gone? My friends were getting smaller and smaller in
my rear-view mirror, just like in "Smokey and The Bandit" when Burt
Reynolds was flooring the Trans Am and watching Smokey get smaller
in his rear-view mirror. "Bye-bye, baby." He sang. Man, at the time,
that was quite a car. And Burt was the biggest actor in Hollywood.
Heck, they made three of those movies, and one was with an elephant.
Fig Tree is published by the Briland Modem located online at Briland.com,
offering community news and information for Harbour Island and North
I figured that if I kept walking
long enough, I'd eventually end up where I started. It is an island,
right? The more I walked, the more I realized that it might take
at least one sequel for me to finish this walk. This island seems
small when you're racing around in your golf cart, looking for all
that seems interesting, and things that you just can't miss. But,
when you're walking, it's huge. I thought again of the Rasta guy.
I should've asked him if he had any pot.
Dumb question, unless
he was down on his luck. But isn't that what all Americans do when
they're in the Caribbean? Try to lose themselves in some culture
that they think revolves around a boredom-lessening substance with
the locals? "I mean, really. How can these people exist on this
island?" If they think that being Rasta or island local revolves
around pot, they just don't get it, do they?
My Kalik-buzz was
wearing off. The sun was hot. "Come to the islands." The brochure
always reads, "The land of sunshine." If I lived here, I'd have
to wear nothing but sandals and shorts. The ground is hard and has
surprises here and there. Sandals are a must unless you're on the
beach. Shorts should be worn just in case someone comes along, right?
So, how did the
islanders wear so much clothing? Okay, they're used to the heat.
But, why so much clothing? Adornment? Status? I saw some of the
local guys wearing long-sleeved Tommy Hilfiger sweaters in the middle
of the day. Well, they probably laugh hysterically at the standard-issue
tourist uniform of tank top, bathing-suit, and sandals dangling
a camcorder or camera, too, but I chuckled at their attempt to look
hip in this weather.
Must be hot being
hip. Well, we suffer for the look, right? Then again, they're not
on vacation, are they? I remembered seeing visitors to my hometown
of San Francisco wearing shorts and tee-shirts, freezing their asses
off. They don't realize that San Francisco is so much like London
most of the time, cold and foggy, save for a few great days. How
could a visitor know how a local dresses? Who cares? That's what
Kalik does to you, makes you feel local, while dressing like you're
The cliffs to my
left bore fewer structures now. I kept on my trek, thinking to myself
that I would really like to go see Gusty and enjoy one of his gin/Kalik
concoctions right now. It was then that I remembered the time my
wife and I kinda broke the rules governing golf cart rental and
actually went off-road in our vehicle. The road got so rough at
one point that there was nothing but trees and bush around us on
a narrow, hilly dirt road. I high-centered the thing once. One of
Martinez's horses poked his head through the bush and laughed a
My wife had once
regrettably turned down a ride from Martinez when my buddy and I
were lost on one of the island's skinny, beach-like paths. We had
picked up sandwiches for Beth from Angela's Starfish Restaurant,
and were in a hurry to find her. But we were a little Kaliky, so
we laughed it off and I pushed as she punched the gas. The golf-cart
At the end of the
road we came upon a great estate of Palm Grove, which Gusty had
told us was owned by the sister of the same millionaire that owned
the world-champion Florida Marlins. And built Blockbuster. Perhaps
he also owned the Miami Dolphins, but remember, we were Kaliky at
that point. The bush-chopping Haitians were busy slicing back the
brush and burning what they had removed. I saw the smoke rise in
the air from the multiple piles and wondered what they'd do if a
great wind came and blew the fire out of control. Run to the ocean,
no doubt. I now did the same.
Some narrow, silvery
fish darted by me and made my skin tighten. Their eyes always looking
left and right -- thanks to placement by God -- and swimming in
packs of three or four, they saw me and just as quickly disappeared.
I headed back for the beach and continued my ankle-high water journey.
If I got hungry, I could eat them, right? Make my stand right here,
on this beach. Never go home. Just stay and wait for the darts.
It might take about thirty of them to make a meal for this 220-pounder,
though. And, like Chinese food, I'd probably be hungry soon after.
I regretted not having brought a fishing pole for some shore casting.
But, then again, my matches would be useless after my multiple sabbaticals
in the ocean. I tried hard to remember my one day of Boy Scout training,
but on that particular day they had talked more about how to recruit
new members than how to light a fire with driftwood and catch darty
fish with nothing more than a bad attitude and some sandy rocks.
At one point, I
believed it was time to return to the 'mainland', and it was then,
more than ever, that I wanted to continue on my trek. But, the sun
was turning orange and daring me to beat it to the ocean, so I turned
around slowly and faced my return. The way back is always farther
than the way there, right? You've already seen it all and are tired
from your trip, no? I faced the sun, the ocean, and the sand, and
turned back, wondering why I had come so far in the first place.
The Fig Tree is published
by the Briland Modem located online at Briland.com, offering community
news and information for Harbour Island and North Eleuthera, Bahamas.
On the way back,
the wind picked up a bit and blew my long hair over to my right
side. At home, I hate my hair being blown about. Here, I could care
less. I enjoyed being touched by the low-lying clouds that reached
out to me. I felt the power of different sources of the world. The
wind, the water, and the earth. Even the sun gave me the fourth
element as it continued to warm my bare skin. At this time, I couldn't
even see my companions. But, it's pretty simple to navigate the
land at the edge of an island. Maybe it was this simplicity that
allowed me to ponder as I wandered, the shore being my guide.
I suddenly remembered
the library on Harbour Island. The faded books. The age of them
all. The section on the United States being all of a foot wide,
and just out of reach of the school children. Perhaps they could
grab a book on my country when they were taller. But I found myself
wishing that that particular section were ten feet tall, so that
only the really good basketballers from the island could snatch
one. America cherishes its athletes and pays them well. Normal people,
below seven feet tall or so, need not apply.
I wanted very much
to be the unpaid librarian. The one that put the lock on the Cuban
cigar box full of donations in cash, the one that made sure the
windows were weather-tight, and that the front doors would actually
dissuade a would-be thief armed with little more than a butter-knife.
I wanted to guard
that sacred library, so full of writing, and knowledge. The place
that I had first sat and wondered, "Is this the place where I am
to make my mark on the world? Is this where I am called to help?"
So full of my own self-want to help. As though this place isn't
If I were the island dictator, I would tell the
children that some kids could learn to clean conch, others could
learn to build buildings, some folks would learn the intricate
art of plaiting straw, a few would become expert fishermen, others
could become teachers, some would learn to build boats again,
some could write books, and still others could learn to sew names
like "John" or "Steve" in straw hats that no one would actually
ever wear but would pay a premium price for, or best of all ...
they could learn just how lucky they were to be here in the first
place. Maybe, just maybe, if I were in charge, I'd keep Eden just
the way it was.
If I were wiser still, I would encourage them
to read and learn about the United States as a place that came,
saw, and conquered all it could until there was little else but
strip-malls and 7-11s in every town across the country. I would
tell them what I had learned about the world, and hope to scare
them into staying safe, here where God lives. Perhaps that would
make them stay here, here in this glorious place.
If I were a realist, I would realize that the
reason I donated a computer system to the All-Age School was because
I knew that these blessed people were smart enough to reach out
and touch the world, and somehow make it better, whatever the
risk to all that is immaculate about them and their home.
I realized that the best gift I could possibly
give to this enchanted place, its beautiful people, the All-Age
School, and Ms. Elodie Ling, the actual librarian at my favorite
place, was to leave them alone. Or, better, to be the anonymous
visitor on a beautiful beach, on a perfect island, to take nothing
but photographs and leave nothing but footprints. And the occasional
gift to those to have unknowingly given so much to my wife and
I saw a pink-colored shell in the shape of a
cone. Granted, it was a small one, but maybe it could bring a
dollar to someone if a tourist wanted to bring it home. Perhaps
it could adorn the desk pen and pencil set of some Manhattanite.
For that, I left it where it lay, in the clearest water I've ever
seen on a beach that defies Crayola, Inc.'s best imagination.
Harbour Islanders instinctively know that they own something outsiders
may never purchase or franchise or incorporate, and that the magic
that they hold, that we visit from time to time, will never disappear.
The essence of what God gave these people that they know is theirs,
is that they smile at each other, and that they hold each other
dear. This glorious people: Briland People.
When I finally got back, my friends and my wife
were concerned less about where I had been, but more when I would
come home. Home was a long way away. Home wasn't Tingum Village,
where we were staying the night. Home wasn't anywhere near Gusty's
or Queen Conch. Home wasn't even remotely close to Angela's Starfish
Restaurant where you must write down everything you want, like
a will to yourself. ["What I will leave myself when I die: a conch
salad and a Kalik, oh yeah, don't forget the fritters.] At Angela's,
she sits behind a window and gives you a pencil and paper, and
asks you what you want. Looking back, I should have asked for
another pencil, and some more paper.
Beth -- my beautiful
wife, otherwise known around the island as, "Lovely Miss Beth" --
thanked me for introducing her to something I held dear that has
become to her "the simplest, easiest place that anyone would ever
want to be in. It's hard to explain: it's a place that I tell others
about. I've given pink sand to very few people. From that gift,
they've understood me a little bit better and wanted to visit this
place I described. I wouldn't pass pink sand to just anyone, you
know? Sure you do. A lot of times, I feel I can take them there,
because I'm there everyday."
You see, I had been
to Nassau and down the Eleutheran chain a few times before, but
when we got married, I wanted to take her to the Briland side of
The Bahamas. She trusted me. She has not questioned my vision since.
Love and peace to
Beth and Jim Reno
Friends of The Bahamas
at www.briland.com. All fiction, factual stories, artwork and photography
submissions for publication and posting at The Fig Tree can be sent
to the Briland Modem via e-mail at email@example.com, or snailed
to 10153 Riverside Drive, Suite 244, Toluca Lake CA 91602 USA.
Bahamas: International Financial Centre
experiences being shared on Internet, says Hepple
By ANEESAH McDONALD
[Nassau Guardian] -- Internet travel is a potential $29 billion
industry and unless The Bahamas buckles up and improves the
quality of its product, Deputy Director of Tourism Dr. Jim
Hepple says the country could be left behind in the very competitive
tourism industry. At a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club
of South East Nassau, Hepple revealed that The Bahamas is
currently experiencing a huge disparity between the quality
of service given and prices charged.
"If we want
to continue to be able to obtain the prices we charge, then
we have to provide the quality of service and product consistent
with these prices," he said. Quality and product issues, he
said, have long been of concern to his ministry, and he said
that now in the wake of Internet technology, the country needs
to acknowledge its deficiencies, and fix them before the world
finds out, and begins to talk about them. In fact, according
to Hepple, some Internet sites are already posting unfavourable
reviews of The Bahamas.
As an example,
he gave an excerpt from a comment made by a Disney cruise
ship passenger, who opted to stay on board the ship, rather
than take a Nassau beach tour, which her husband's coworker
had described as "the pits." Such samplings of Internet experiences
were what Hepple described as "unedited, honest and human
from those who enjoyed their visit and from those who didn't."
On one website alone, www.epinions.com,
New Providence reportedly had 55 reviews, while Grand Bahama
had 32. On another, www. deja.com, Paradise Island had 42
reviews, New Providence had 52 and Grand Bahama had 95. Dr.
Hepple invited Bahamians to log on to these websites, and
others, to find out what the nations' customers are saying.
he said, is once again reverting back to word of mouth and
Bahamians can no longer rely on advertising campaigns and
public relations to convince people that they are getting
value for their money. "They will listen to friends and relatives
who have recently visited the destination," he said. "If they
don't know anyone directly who has visited, they will go online
and look for someone who has." And with 60 million of the
100 million US households set to be logged on by 2003, Bahamas
vacation experiences won't be that hard to find. In light
of this, Hepple added that it is very important that The Bahamas
focus on product improvement, rather than sales, in order
to continue to be successful in its number one industry.
By VANESSA C. ROLLE
August 2000 [Nassau
Guardian] -- Minister of Finance Sir William Allen addressed the
House of Assembly yesterday on The Bill for an Act to Amend the
Evidence (Proceedings in other Jurisdictions) Act, 2000 in the House
of Assembly, describing it as a "sensible course of action" on the
part of the government. Sir William was a member of the delegation
that accompanied Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to Washington to
call on the United States government and private sector representatives
concerning the OECD's blacklisting of, and USA's financial advisory
on The Bahamas' financial services sector. During the meetings,
United States officials were adamant that they would only support
The Bahamas as an international financial centre if the country
fully complies with the
new, internationally accepted
practices and procedures of the world's major financial centres.
Said Sir William: "It is true to say that this bill does not create
any precedence, does not plow any new ground in international finance
and among other international financial centres.
"It is a sensible course of action for us to take.
I believe," continued Sir William, "that after we have all felt
very carefully about what the bill does, and what The Bahamas should
be doing, we would conclude that this is a sensible course of action
for us to take at this time." Sir William further said that The
Bahamas has known for some time at some point, that there would
be fundamental changes to the operation of offshore financial centres.
It was just a matter of time, he said.
Sir William explained that offshore financial centres
came into being nearing the end of the 1950's when the Eurodollar
(US dollars deposited in or credited to European banks) was introduced.
The system expanded with development of the interest equalization
tax; exchange control arrangements in the United Kingdom, and a
concerted amount of liquidity that was in the international financial
system following World War II and the reconstruction of Europe.
"It was discovered by circumstances that certain transactions could
take place outside the main money centres using the so-called Euro-currency
- currency which was outside the realm of its issuing country,"
He said that it was also discovered that this provided
many opportunities and benefits.
"We all recognized what those benefits were. We
talked about them; we boasted about the benefits," he said. Countries
attracting Eurodollars had to satisfy certain requirements, including,
having: a stable political and social environment; a satisfactory
judicial system; no taxes; freedom from exchange control; and easy
accessibility by those wishing to use the centre. "These were principally
the attributes of the financial centres which made them attractive
for this new emerging business," Sir William said. He said as the
offshore centres thrived, other features were added to the sector
by means of legislative and other initiatives to make them more
"Then they competed with each other and that competition
took the form of identifying legal entities, legislative arrangements
and other facilities" that made this new entity more accommodating,
he said. Liquidity in the financial services sector escalated by
the mid-1970's, Sir William outlined, and offshore centres experienced
Eventually these centres, or tax havens, came under
heavy criticism, he said. "These countries boasted that they were
tax havens and that they offered tax savings if you did business
with them. In the 1970's, the screams for the industrial countries
became more vigorous," to the extent that spies in the form of tax
experts began to infiltrate them, said the Finance Minister.
Sir William concluded: "We all recognised that
at some point they would have had enough and they could take civil
action. We always knew that industrial countries could take action
because the banks came from them. We knew also that we could only
do business if the industrial countries permitted us to close transactions
in their countries. They would prevent the use of their clearing
systems. We knew that when they had enough, they were going to do
Satellite Phones Not Yet Ready For Prime Time
Still no definitive
word as to when Globalstar satellite service in the Eastern Bahamas
will be online and operational. [Current Globalstar satellite coverage
extends from Bimini on the west to Nassau. Once the last uplink
is activated in Puerto Rico, the entire country should be covered
by Globalstar service.] Calls to Globalstar representatives this
week showed some offices stating a 15 August start date, with others
in the network saying that 1 September was closer to reality. Globalstar
currently offers the lowest-cost handhelds in the satellite industry.
More comparisons can be found at the Briland Modem telecommunications
link at www.briland.com. As it stands, we are receiving word from
several Iridium owners that their satellite service remains operational
at this time.
By Robert Arthur, Arthur's Bakery
Were you here on that terrible night of March 6,
1999, when the explosion and fire destroyed Valentine's Yacht Club's
You jumped out of bed, heart pounding, and raced down
to the scene . and what you saw filled your heart with dread. The
local fire brigade volunteers had quickly brought our 25-year-old
fire truck to the scene, but the pump wasn't working, and the hoses
weren't well sealed. Water was squirting everywhere except toward
the fire. There had been no rains for months, and everything on
the entire island was tinder-dry. The entire town held its collective
breath as the building flames leapt from the dive shop to the tree
of the Albury family home next door. It then occurred to a number
of us that the Club's major fuel storage tank had not yet blown
up. [We all remembered having seen a film in high school that described
the kind of mushroom cloud you get when a large fuel tank blows.
Where was the tank? Had its shut-off valves been properly closed
the night before?]
As various objects - SCUBA tanks, compression equipment
-- in the dive shop began to explode, a number of people began to
back away from the scene. One family of renters in particular headed
back to their guest house to assemble emergency supplies so that
they could evacuate the island. They wanted to be prepared to wade
out into the bay in case the whole village went up in flames.
You know the end of the story. Through the grace of
God, the wind shifted to blow out toward the harbour, and the volunteers
were able to use the contents of the swimming pool to extinguish
the fire. The very next day, the sickly smell of smoke pervaded
Dunmore Town, but the fire was out, and no one was hurt.
Next time, will we be so lucky? The question has continued
to gnaw at many of us ever since that terrible evening. Since the
Valentine's event, we have upgraded the water system and installed
a network of new fire hydrants at various points around the island
as a start at protecting ourselves. But what we could really use
is a new fire truck that can store 700-1000 gallons of water, pump
water from the sea as easily as it can from the street hydrants,
and hold the tools and equipment needed to fight a two-storey building
fire. We'd like to have a fire truck in place that will have mechanical
parts available when we need them, and that can easily maneuver
the narrow streets as well as the unpaved roads of Harbour Island.
Did you know that our major insurers have listed
Harbour Island as a Classification A insurance risk, 'A' being the
worst and most costly classification?
Thanks to the high concentration of home ownership
we currently enjoy, but with no thanks to our lack of access to
adequate fire protection today, our fire insurance premiums are
among the region's most expensive.
In the meantime, a committee of fire-fighting professionals,
local government, volunteers, and friends has researched the special
needs of island fire-fighting, and is building a budget designed
to support everything needed for a sophisticated fire system that
the island can depend on. At this very moment, fire truck agents
in the U.S. are searching for a used engine to meet those needs,
which we expect it to cost approximately $120,000. We've estimated
--another $15,000 annually for fuel and operating expenses, and
another $3-5,000 to renovate and maintain a firehouse to secure
the truck. We look forward to your assistance in raising the $140,000
With the backing of the Harbour Island Police Department,
a trained volunteer fire brigade will run the truck as led by Fire
Captain Jefferson Johnson. The proposed budget will not only set
aside appropriate compensation for Jefferson, but will also include
a small monthly stipend for the members of the volunteer brigade.
All members of the brigade will be outfitted with VHF/CB radio communications
equipment, so that response time will be effectively minimized.
We'd love to have your support moving forward with
this effort. Can you help? If you are on-island, we'd be delighted
to have you bring your check into the Royal Bank of Canada in person
and meet with Bank Manager Keith Wells. You'll be able to see the
fire truck the All-Age schoolchildren have drawn to help us track
If you're currently off the island, but indeed want
to offer your support to this necessary initiative, we invite you
to mail or wire your contributions to the Briland Modem Fund, Bank
of America Account No. 21734 08237, ABA Wire No. 12100035-8, 10153
Riverside Drive, Suite 244, Toluca Lake CA 91602, Tel [outside of
California] 1 800 441 6457 [press * for an operator] or [inside
California] 818 507 6700 [press * for an operator]. Please note
on the check that your donation is being earmarked for the Fire
Brigade Fund. Your donation to the Briland Modem Fund is tax-deductible,
as the Fund is a recognized 501©(3) not-for-profit corporation.
A monthly statement listing all activities on the Fire Fund Account
will be available at the Royal Bank of Canada, and can be viewed
online at the Briland Modem located at www.briland.com. You'll keep
abreast of the committee's progress.
There isn't much that we can do to further protect
ourselves from hurricanes, but a working fire truck will go a long
way toward protecting us from nature's other major threat. Your
support will help us all sleep better at night knowing that the
protection we need for all of our homes and businesses is now available.
And best of all, we'll continue to enjoy the peace and beauty of
Harbour Island, this unique and irreplaceable jewel where people
of so many lands feel at home.
Robert Arthur, Arthur's Bakery
Jefferson Johnson, Harbour Island Fire Brigade
Keith Wells, Royal Bank of Canada
Tree is published by the Briland Modem located online at Briland.com,
offering community news and information for Harbour Island and North
Editors: Kimberly King-Burns, Mandy Barton
Editorial staff: Karol King-Black, Richard Haskell, Norah Albury,
Sharon King, Glenroy Aranha
Reporters: Franklyn Mather, Melissa Bethel
Fiction by Jim Reno
Layout by Mandy Barton
Photography by Sharon King, Jeff Hills, Judie Reynolds, Jacqueline
Island artwork by Allen Hermes, Harvey Roberts
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The Fig Tree is published on a quarterly basis, give or take a few
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The current issue is posted on-island and is also available via
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