Bahamas Ferries

Fear Over Ferry

by Vanessa C. Rolle, Guardian Staff Reporter

Every time I see it, I remember screaming my eyes out, not wanting to go to the hospital, and yet wanting my mother near me to take the pain in my head away, and put feeling back in my left arm and leg. When you're young, you think mothers can do miracles - and anything.

I never can forget the image of my father on the boat; he kept rubbing my arm and leg - probably while fervently praying for God to make those nerves come back to life. Booooooooooy, and who had the nerve to tell VANERIA (my mother), that something had happened to me?? That person has yet to be born. Surely, it was not my father.

Since that day, nearly twenty years ago, I have had the fear of anything beginning with the letter "B" that belonged on the sea. No-one could get me on a boat to save my life. So my friends gave up on inviting me on boat cruises of any sort whether they were for a good cause or not. I was never there. And I was not going.

To overcome this fear, I had to start off with a pretty big boat. So my first trip after this accident was on Carnival cruiseline's Imagination in 2000. What a vacation!! Albeit that I did get seasick halfway through the trip, the cruise was smooth and fantastic with cuisine to suit every palate and enough activities to take away my worries of being on a "boat." I've been dying to go on another Carnival cruise ever since.

However, I felt some trepidation prior to my inaugural voyage on a smaller vessel. Let's remember that I was in a "speedboat" at the time of my accident, so any boat that was moving fast, or moving period, was not the boat for me.

When Bahamas Ferries was launched several years ago as Bahamas "Fast" Ferries ...ummmm, this took my nerves a bit. An air-conditioned catamaran, with spacious seating - seat belts, a beautiful view of the ocean, and a decor of comfort unheard of in The Bahamas. But thanks to an assignment editor, I was there when the Bo Hengy made its inaugural trip to "nowhere" several years ago. I sat among other members of the media and dignitaries sipping apple cider and enjoying hors d'oeuvres all while tightly fastened to my seat, as bubbles of waves ran under the vessel. I literally forgot I should have been afraid, and before I knew it, I was back on land.

A trip to Harbour Island two weeks ago reminded me of this first voyage that broke the spell of fear from me. I was reintroduced to the Bo Hengy, in its sleek grandeur. Traveling at some 35 knots, with a capacity of 177 passengers, the Bo Hengy manipulated the seas. I relaxed in air-conditioned comfort, as I watched the waves dance upon the deep dark ocean. The bright blue sky was filled with gallant cumulus clouds as rays of sunlight glistened on the water.

Enroute to Harbour Island via Bahamas Fast Ferries

The view en route to Harbour Island seemed to be handcrafted by God - especially for that moment. As we approached the tropical isle immersed in Bahamian history, the darkness of the ocean faded into clear turquoise and aquamarine waters, making me believe I probably could touch the bottom if only I stretched out my hand.

On my right, wooden houses sat upright on grassy hilltops, looking down into the flawless sea; we also passed the historic Preacher's Cave, and Devil's Backbone, which, ironically, both gave their own sense of justice to Mother Nature; on my left, as we neared the Bo Hengy first stop at Spanish Wells, just West of Eleuthera, wooden pastel coloured houses graced the coastline, and the settlement's steep and narrow streets were busy with roaming golf carts and construction workers repairing rooftops, victims of Hurricane Jeanne. This was indeed a neatly knitted community.

Upon arrival at Harbour Island, I could tell the air was different - the atmosphere was different from Nassau's. There were no busy streets and traffic jams - and I really don't even remember seeing a street light. What kind of world was this that seeped into a simplistic way of life rather than modernisation? It was a beautiful world.

The pink sandy beach beckoned to be touched, and the 250-year old Dunmore Town, with its narrow streets and sherbet coloured colonial-style architecture, invited the hearts and talents of artists and tourists alike.

Driving carefully through the streets in a golf cart, NG photographer Letisha Henderson and I went "up yonder" and "down yonder." Dag nabbit, they really do exist!!! We continued our tour passing Tingum Village, the Red Apple Hotel, and the Romora Bay Club on Colebrooke Street. And of course, I think every Family Island must have a Queen's Highway and a Bay Street. In this case, Bay Street is unlike the busy congested metropolis of modern day Nassau.

Dwellings on Harbour Island

Most of the dwellings in Harbour Island also have names, such as Blue Sticks, Oleander, Sandy Hill, Gumelemi Bluff, Loyalist Cottage (built in 1871), Barton Beach, Dunmore Cottage (once owned by Lord Dunmore), Rosebud and Beside the Point - bringing to life the history and culture of the Bahama island paradise.

We also drove through Gaol (pronounced "jail") Lane, home of the island's Magistrate's Court.

Across from the Water and Sewerage Corporation is Fisherman's Dock, or, as it is called by natives , PLP's Dock. According to some locals, Harbour Island is the place where "food and rum sells."

Unlike the usual basketball courts found in every nook and cranny in New Providence, in Harbour Island, there is also a public tennis court for the young people on the island to hone their skills.

And, just between the Sip Sip Restaurant and the Ocean view Club, between the cracks of a bushy sandy pathway, a breathtaking view of the ocean with its deeply coloured blue-green hues arrested me to bask in its beauty for a while.

Although it is visited by mostly Europeans, the island beckons to Bahamians to also reclaim the feeling of paradise - without leaving Bahamian waters.

On the way back on the Bo Hengy, I kept thinking that I have to come back - and find my own quiet nest where I can write my poetry or songs, or sing and meet more of the "friendly people" that call Harbour Island home, or, maybe I just need to get away some weekends. It's a place to which you return to find yourself.

On the ride back to Nassau, I had had such a long day doing interviews with the Courage Band, The Brilanders, and the nation's very first Miss Bahamas Brenda Major-Barry, plus touring the island, that I slept all the way. So much for a girl who's scared of boats!!!!!