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Give Burke de wheel


De regular Mail Boat dat transported mails and passengers from mainland St Vincent to Union Island and back was on dock, and ah ‘make-shift’ arrangement was made to use “de Hairoun” ah lickle 30 ft schooner wid sails and engine from Bequia. It was ah Tuesday morning when “de Hairoun” sailed into Can-One on its northern voyage, dey was very lickle room foh Can-One passengers dat included a young girl who was pregnant, she was heading to de mainland to have her first baby.{{more}} It was windy and de water was ruff dat morning. Foh me de sea water was always ruff between Can-one and Petit Can-one (Pattay), I am told dey’s ah reef out dey. De seas got ruffer and ruffer, and it seemed like we were not getting out ah Pattay waters. All dat time passengers were vomiting, at one point de boat hit ah swell and almost capsized, tossing de pregnant girl from de port side to de starboard. De women on board were screaming! Dey was dis brave youngster from Union Is on board, no more dan 14 years ole, is like ah seeing him right now. “Captain!” he shouted, “yuh don’t know way de hell yuh doing, yuh is ah damn A…s, yuh want to kill everybody out hey, yuh keep heading de boat into de swells and we will never get out ah dem rough seas today!”

Next to him was Burke, an older guy from Can-one, he uses to build and captain his own vessels. Burke turned to de youngster and said: “ Is long time I notice he ain’t know way he doing, everybody know yuh suppose to be running away from de swells under Pattay.”

By now all eyes turned pon Burke and de youngster. Ah lady from Canouan literally pleaded wid Burke to tek over de ship: “ Burke!” she shouted, “why yuh don’t tek over de wheel?” And de crowd took it from dey and started to shout at de captain, “Give Burke de wheel! Give Burke de Wheel!” It was too much foh de ole skipper, who was looking quite confused by den, he beckoned to Burke to come and tek over. Within minutes Burke had diverted de vessel away from de swells and like magic, de sea was as calm as ah pond. Ah never hear foh more “thank yuh Jesus” and de passengers started to clap foh joy!


Dat was well over forty years ago and when ah tink ah had gotten over dat Pattay experience, ah find me-self pon ah small vessel again, not “de Hairoun” but Hairouna better known as de SS Sin-Vin-Sin. De Seas have never been so ruff, de ship is M.T. and tossing about, heading foh de reef! Not like times gone, we uses to full de boat hatches wid Bananas and dat alone uses to steady de ship. What dis captain can’t mash up he-self, his crew mashing up foh him. He blast open ah hole at Argyle and in desperation to fill dat hole, he dug ah hole into de End Sea Bee, he dig another hole in Miss Ann-NIS; he Nah-shun-all properties only those in Bequia. Down to de lickle life-boats falling apart, Billing Alone is in trouble! Buccama is every body investigating dem, from British Police, de FSA of de UK and de Serious Fraud Office, clearly Aims is nutting sink wid de object-teef! Ah hope dat company does not fowl-up, and dat dey honour dey deaths dat dey owe people here. Lie-Za say dey owe one contract-her over five hundred thousand dollars.

Something is really fishy wid dis Vin-licks electricity bill and its Few-ill So-charge! Is de most disconnection taking place. Lie-Za is convinced dat is we de consumers dat paying foh de fuel dat de vehicles at Ah-guile using. And yuh notice as de ship S.S Sin-Vin-Sin heads foh de reef, de captain just putting on side shows. When de BBC confronted him on de Buccama scandal, he shifted it to ah personal ah-salt and threatening to Sue. To side show de tuff e-con-nah mek times hey, he shifted de debate to selecting ah Nah-shun-all-hero! He shift over to Rip-arrears-shun, come-pen-say-shun foh de lands de British stole from we, foh de hole-ah-cast at Balliceaux; did he say if he seeking come-pen-say-shun from de Portuguese foh dey role in de slave trade? O.K. Maybe he should call pon his Nah-shun-all-hero, Cato and charge him foh negligence foh not securing proper come-pen-say-shun from de British in 1979, when he signed and collected de legal agreement for In-de-pen-dance.

Yes our skipper is in trouble, de seas too ruff foh him to steer de ship, time he step aside and “Give Burke de Wheel” hand over de wheel to someone who is familiar wid these waters.


De ULP columnist erred last week and made one ah dey usual “first time ever” or “first person ever” false claims. In de third to last paragraph under de sub-head “Additional Care” de writer states: “ There are new nursing specialties and we must congratulate Dr Audrey Scott-Gilks on becoming the first Vincentian Nurse with a PhD, an inspiration and example to others.” Lie-Za tek serious objections to anyting unfounded, and while she asking me to congratulate Dr Audrey, she asking de writer to read one ah de Love Vine’s column written twelve years ago when he congratulated Dr Kitty Israel, ah former nurse in SVG when she got her PhD in Public Health Administration.

What’s in all dis first time ever ting? Dey are several other Vincentian nurses who would have completed dey PhD, others have opted for medical degrees.

And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.