Barrouallie: Tales of different eras
January 11, 2013
Tales of the sea continued

As youngsters growing up in Barrouallie, one of our greatest delights was to hear the angry roars and to see the sea on display as “mountain high” waves washed ashore. We relished those times because it was a time to “bounce” swells. We would be warned by our parents not to go, but many went anyway, having already decided that they will take the “licking” later on. Swell bouncing was enjoyable, yet dangerous. I recall how we laughed at the ones who were “doubled up” by the swells, became lost from view for what appeared to be minutes, but must have been seconds and, who would later stagger out as if in a drunken stupor, their sea-soaked hair plastered with sand.{{more}}

As youngsters back then, we seemed not to fully comprehend the folly of our actions. We just lived for the moment! And quite some moments they were. Imagine taking ripe mangoes or other fruits to the beach, pelting/throwing them out to sea as far as possible. Then get set, ready, go! Diving all the way in intense competition. The objective for any of us was to get the most in order to be declared the winner. At the end of it all and added to the “licking” meted out, parents reminded their children how the salt water “spoiling and cutting off your hair!” and at other times “watch how yo’ hair them red; is the salt doing that” to the most telling statement in their local parlance “sea water nuh ha no back door”. Did we listen? Maybe for the moment, but when the waves were high again, we did it all over.

A few of these youngsters did not make the teenage years, because they became victims of the sea. I shudder at the thought of the many sad tales, all of which touched the people of this community from time to time and, even though the sea has fed us over the years, its presence is also a reminder of the lives lost, vanished, never to be seen again.

I can never forget that morning when the news broke that “the Lady Angela had drifted off course”. Immediately the focus was on our menfolk who worked in Mustique. That aspect of our lives will be visited later on. Also, I can still hear the wails of my neighbour as if it were yesterday. She had just received terrifying news: her son (also a cousin of mine) and another Barrouallie resident were missing at sea. Her motherly instinct and gut wrenching feeling told her that he had drowned, even though the news had not confirmed it. We tried desperately to console her and reasoned in vain, but she had felt it in her bowels. A few days later, the dreaded news was confirmed.

Then there are those two blackfish boat incidents which occurred many moons ago; of course, there were other mishaps, but we’ll focus on these two for the moment. My mom recalls that she had just opened her business establishment for the day when Nathan walked in. He was on his way to do some farming, but was stopped in his tracks by College (another fisherman), who wanted men to man his boat for the day. Apparently some of the “regulars” were not available to make the trip that morning. Nathan (nicknamed John Blow) left his cutlass with my mom and followed the path behind our house which led to the beach. He had forfeited his farming plans for the day in order to do a good deed for a fellow resident. He was never seen again. Phillip Charles recalled seeing College, Nathan and the other crew members aboard “Govern” that fateful day. Phillip remembers that the weather was quite fair at the beginning, followed later on by a squall and “big sea”. He recalls seeing them (College and crew) going to the north as he (Phillip) went west, then south to “save himself”. None of the men aboard “Govern” ever returned. They perished at sea.

Then, there is the case of Natty and his fellow men. Some residents concluded that bad weather came from “Barbados end” and was headed for the north west. I wonder perhaps if it was a tropical storm, or even a hurricane. Other residents here in Barrouallie have another spin to the story of that missing craft. Many have drawn their own conclusions, but I shall not pen what they have surmised. My mom recalls how Mama Adams (referred to as Mama Cops) screamed to the top of her lungs when she looked at the “blackness of the sea”. Another mother’s gut feeling, I guess, because she had helped to take care of Natty after his mom died. She resided on Keartons Hill, but her yells reverberated in the valley below. As her wails got louder, the entire town came out as a mark of sympathy, some holding on to the hope that they were safe somewhere and would “surface” in the morning. The crowd kept vigil on the hills (Glebe and Keartons) and on the wharf, but Mama was right. The Sun Shadow was no more, nor was the crew. Aboard that boat, there were also two brothers.

All of our blackfish (Pilot whale) hunters of yore should be honoured somehow, somewhere in this town. How about a replica of the Pilot whale, mounted on a stand in memory of…. Well, it’s just a suggestion, so until next week, by God’s will, we shall continue to look at the tales of this town.