Sunday, 9 May 2021

Some views on books and movies 2020 and 2021

DA 5 BLOODS
Delroy Lindo gave a masterful performance.

Five 70 year old US vets return to a jungle of Vietnam to recover the remains of a friend and also ingots of gold owned by the US Govt. It was never going to be easy.




FREE STATE OF JONES

"They will arrest me and kill you", says the character of Newton Knight to Moses in the movie Free State of Jones.

A Mississippi small farmer realises that the war the confederates wage with the union is to make the rich richer. He leads a band of renegade small farmers and former enslaved persons who declare independence. An interesting folk hero from Mississippi.

FENCES

August Wilson's play Fences adapted for film by Denzel Washington. So many pithy truisms can be attached here:

Take limes and make lemonade
Most men live lives of quiet desperation
Marriage has teeth.
A man, feeling the weight of unfulfilled dreams, sacrifices the love of his closest as a way to temper frustration
A woman who defines herself through her husband realizes she may have built a castle in the sky.

CODED BIAS
Joy Buolamwalini leads a lobby to stop the unregulated use of algorithms in facial recognition technology in the USA. The algorithms have inbuilt biases that no one knows how to unravel, but that push decisions that are based on race, gender, neighbourhood, schools attended and so on.

LIFE IN COLOUR

Presentation on how colours are recognized and used in the natural world. Who is seeing what colours. A fascinating and visually delightful outlay.



300
Diplomacy would not save the Greeks from being crushed under Persian rule, so war it had to be.

The ultimate death before dishonor story.







BLACKHAT
This is a movie that would make Carib yell "Show!" back in the day.

Do you have a bank account, financial stock, work in law enforcement?
Know that there are people who play international money and power games with computers.

Chinese and US cyberpolice use a convicted hacker to try and catch another.

Along the way we see that some women fall in love when they see brute strength.

Criminals are out there with middle east warfare and Latin American narco credentials

Knives, guns, bombs, helicopters, subway, fast boat, cars, planes all have roles.


AKBAR
Political marriages are an efficient way to solve political problems. A Muslim Emperor takes a religious Hindu princess as his truce making bride. In getting to understand each other and asserting individuality, with respect, they nurture marital love. A heady period piece epic movie.









CONCRETE COWBOYS
Young Cole is a not where he wants to be, living out tough love, mucking stalls in his father's rented stables in Philadelphia. It is hard for inner city youth to find the prosperity that they desire. Home is not a place, so we goin' ride.


THE HOLY MAN
A monk is sent to reopen a disused temple in a town which is under the control of a con artist and also a politician, both protected by goons.

With the help of the village layabout, handsome village fool and an autistic person, the monk reopens the temple and a school and through good works begins to threaten the status quo. In each act of life, you earn merit or you lose it.







Mary Magdalene. She is not named among the 12 apostles but was absolutely there where and when it mattered.

When the going got tough, Andrew, James, Thomas, Simon Peter and others went into hiding, but she was there standing with Mary mother of Jesus and the apostle John (who Jesus loved) at the crucifixion and helped to secure the body.

Mary M went to the tomb early Sunday morning knowing soldiers were on guard and also not knowing how they was going to move the stone that blocked the entry to the tomb.

Jamaican revitalists have celebrated her faith with the song "Mother the great stone got to move".

Mary was able to give a first person account of the resurrected Christ.

Pair that with Father Abraham's ignorant, and ill-treated slave babymother, Hagar, who in her lowest moments of despair still prayed to "The God Who Sees Me". Her faith sustained her to find a way out of her troubles.

As George Michael sings
You Gotta Have Faith.


HIS HOUSE
A couple is accepted into the UK as refugees and are given a spacious but run down house in a small town to live. The husband is ready to assimilate, but the wife understands that there are spirits around that demand a reckoning. Spoiler.........,


it ends well.









THE EMIGRANT
Ram sets out to study agriculture in Egypt, the "country of light" but his jealous brothers deceived him and he lives as a slave in Egypt where he distinguishes himself and achieves his goal. Despite the entrenched religious/political culture, he never abandons his God.










THE YOUNG MESSIAH
Jesus Bar Joseph, age 7, has questions. He is different from the other children. He can perform miraculous acts and is aware of the devil's emissary stalking him, but why? When his family decides to leave Egypt for their homeland Judea, he learns it all and it prepares him.







THE BLIND CHRIST  From adolescence, Michael believes God is within each person and each of us can be like Christ and perform miracles. He never does perform a miracle and he never gives up. Each person who puts their faith in him feels comforted that they have been prayed for by a good man.

 
A PROMISED LAND A book that gives the mind set behind the actions of President Barak Obama just before he entered politics to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. He comes across as a thoughtful person who decided that to make the changes that he wanted to see in the world, he had to be the President of the USA. I have not read his three earlier memoirs, Dreams From My Father, the Audacity of Hope and Change We Can Believe In, so am actually wondering why he needed to cover his pre presidential life in this fourth review of his life.The book is careful to honour many people throughout that political experience and it was interesting indeed to read how he describes how he valued those relationships. Above all, he takes special care in writing about his life partner, her merits and how much he values her as a person and as the mother of the children both of whom he adores.
On matters of state, Obama, I think, comes close to admitting that he may have not been as adept as he could have been on international issues, especially those in the Middle East, but I would have to read again to be sure.
On domestic matters, he writes how much he cares about the American people and the dutiful way he went about leading the country.
It feels like a volume in a series. This book will anger probably no one and will soothe his supporters who pause to consider his legacy.
From reading this, I believe that Obama he has internalised the writing style of the great American thinker and writer Henry David Thoreau.


THE MAGIC OF CONFIDENCEJust completed the illustrated children's chapter book The Magic of Confidence by Janelle Murdock. 12 year old Danielle and her friends are not having a good school experience and are a bit anxious and fearful about the future. Her Principal is severe and her parents contain her expectations about herself. Unexpected magic starts to happen and Danielle finds that she is more capable than she believed, but will it be enough for her to overcome her challenges?

The author, Swan Jonelle Murdock, says on her LinkedIn profile that this book was written to captivate and inspire its readers. Available on Amazon.


DAUGHER OF NARCISSUS
This is the first book that I have read by the author Lady Colin Campbell, and it is a memoir of her life exploring her mother's personality. If 1/4 of this book is not exaggerated, the family went through a lot of pain living with a daughter, sister, wife, mother who was empty of empathy for others. Gloria Ziadie was a glittering and highly regarded social figure, but in private, she regarded no one, according to her eldest daughter.

This book shares the family life of the wealthy white merchant class in Kingston of the 1940s to 1970s. It gives and idea of their sumptuous homes which were gradually - and are now quite rapidly - being torn down as the demands for urban space changes. She easily describes the benefits and revulsion of the class and colour distinctions of the time and age in which she lived. The reader will benefit from this author who has a detailed and methodical approach to explanation and unfolding layers of understanding. Now here is a big thought....having read some memoirs and family sagas by Jamaicans of various ethnic backgrounds, I believe that Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants helped to entrench the concept of an individual's place of belonging, responsibilities and roles in intergenerational - as opposed to merely extended - family life. The 600 plus page read was a good use of my time.
highwindja If you love your mother and cherish the love she gave you from early years, you may be repulsed by this book.







Saturday, 24 April 2021

Meeting at Rosa Linda

Peace and security needs more than a wish, it needs resolve.

 Meeting at Rosa Linda

Constable Mayfield turned the ignition in the pickup and as the engine pulsed into life, the vehicle speakers filled the cab with the stream from his favourite radio station which played music 55 minutes out of every hour. A popular, guitar led track was on air from the duo of Popcaan and Beres Hammond and he murmured the refrain as he drove from the station parking lot to the Mammee Bay public docks.

“All I know is God is holy,[1]

Protect your life, it’s your one and only.

Evil people will kill you slowly.”

The pickup slowly reversed down the ramp until the trailer that was attached it became submerged in the seawater and the boat that was on the trailer floated, without rocking. Breeze was a few hours away and it was still early for water traffic to stir up waves.

The full blaze of the morning sun had not yet surmounted the bulk of the modest mountain range that framed the shore and kept the overnight chill in the air. Every now and then a slim wisp of fog escaped from the thickly wooded valleys that emptied cold and sparkling streams along the coastline of Mammee parish.

Inspector of Police Milford was proud of his team. The service boat that was assigned to the Ocho Man station had undergone its first bow to stern routine maintenance and was in good order to continue supporting law enforcement in surveillance, monitoring and search and rescue along 70Km of coastline running from St Basil parish in the east through the town of Ocho Man and to Cascade River, which was the border of Mammee Parish and where their jurisdiction ended. There were larger police areas on the island of Jamaica, but outside of Kingston and Montego Bay, Ocho Man had the busiest and most diverse boating activity.

He glanced at his wind-up watch, a discontinued Swiss made piece that was handed down to him when he graduated from the police academy a few years before and it read 6:55AM; he also wore a smartwatch, which he used for everything else but checking the time.

Milford had set launch time for 7 and the crew were on time.   The vessel was as spotless inside as it was outside, and the low hum of the twin outboard engines was thrilling. Their police boat was among the smarter vessels that were now in motion beyond the bay and within the Mammee bight. 

Among the many bays and ports in the bight, Ocho Man had prestige because it accommodated mega cruise ships, but almost every bay was exploited for economic activity. East Bay and the smaller scoops of bays going east had sandy shores that were protected by a great reef, so were used as fishing  beaches, bathing beaches, swimming training and water sports. Ocho Man bay and the bays to the west were deeper and were used as docking facilities, including the cruise ship port. Some marinas catered to sports fishing boats and pleasure cruisers, and others had boats that did the kinds of sea work that involved grease, chemicals and heavy machinery.

The Ocho Man police station was three miles away from the coast within a valley along the main road going inland and did not have berthing access at any of the many piers. The first arrangement was to use the customs pier, but that welcome ran out after a few months as the daily operations of customs was very different from that of the police, and Milford stopped using it to reduce inter agency conflict. Now the police boat was mostly on a trailer in the station yard, unable to respond in less than half an hour.

 This morning’s mission for Milford and a Mayfield was to meet with the owner of a private pier and investigate long term berthing arrangements.

Rosa Linda bay was in the east. Typical, for the area, the bay was a narrow, crescent of white sand backed by a steep hillside that was mostly covered by large, old broadleaf forest trees and also tropical fruit trees, and where the garden ended, had dense undergrowth. There was one building in the veritable forest, the Rosa Linda Villa. Its outstanding feature was a wide, partly covered balcony that was not too imposing for a relaxed conversation with one companion but also large enough to accommodate lunch for an extended family or an evening dance party with friends.

As they entered the bay, Milford saw that the owner was on the pier being photographed by a professional glamour crew. Matts was an aspiring disc jockey who came into inheriting the villa just under two years before. Because she had been brought up abroad and there had been a longstanding family quarrel, she had not been on the property since she was five years old, so it was a shock to the family how it had been bequeathed.

For decades, Rosa Linda Villa had been a licensed infirmary that was dedicated to support persons who were recovering from substance abuse. Matts was working in entertainment on a cruise liner and for two years ignored going down to Jamaica to take over the property; then COVID-19 shut down the industry and she found herself faced with living expenses and no income. She divested herself of almost everything but her music and settled into making a life for herself at the abandoned property. She was able to undertake some immediate repairs, but had no cash for remodelling.

One day, she took a selfie of the bay from the balcony with the caption, “my Linda, my world” and was surprised with the number of likes and favourable comments about the beauty of the location and if she had visitors or served lunch or dinner. From that time, she pushed alluring photos of her life on the property as a way to get bookings.  The crew photo paused from their work as the police boat crossed their lens and pulled up at the pier.

Milford inspected the pier and saw that the wooden posts needed to be changed, but could last perhaps up to another storm. The boardwalk was a mix of new and old, smooth brown and warped grey, planks. He then looked up to the cut stone steps that led from the beach to the villa, and estimated that it was a five-minute drive from the police station, siren blaring - and if it was not raining - another three minutes to run from the parking lot, down the steps and along the boardwalk to get to the end of the pier - that was if it was a clear day - add another five minutes to navigate that journey safely by night. From this location, it would take them about 10 minutes to respond to a call by boat. He hailed Matts and asked for permission to come ashore. His mission was to have her agree to use her pier as docking for Police Boat Mammee, which they called Mam.

For about a year, the arrangements at Rosa Linda worked beautifully for the parish. The water police burnished a reputation for being able to respond quickly to calls.

Meanwhile, other property owners quietly grumbled that Matts was getting preferential treatment from the police, and some even froze her out of local society, not that she was interested.

They got national attention on their reaction to a pre-dawn call from the coastguard to support them to find and intercept a vessel that had come in from international waters and was now hiding in the western mangroves. The police team thoroughly went along the fringe of the mangrove forest when, just ahead of them an engine roared to life and a go-fast boat crossed the bow and sped off into the pale early morning light.

Mam was pressed into hot pursuit and Milford, using local knowledge of the bight, got ahead of them while Mayfield pulled down information on the hull registration, which he transmitted to coastguard and police cyber command. Milford called the boaters on the open channel to stop and submit to a search of documents, but the crew ignored them. Mam backed the boat into a reef where they expected it would slow down to avoid getting stuck on jagged coral. That never happened, the fleeing captain skilfully found enough breaks in the rocks, and kept going.

When they were about to make a break for open water, Milford instructed the constable to shoot across the bow, again, they did not stop. Then coast guard, was now in position to open its guns on the outboard engines, and very quickly the boat was disabled and its crew of four detained. The boat registration was for Republica Encomienda, and as a large amount of US cash was found in bags on board, it seemed that the joint operation had intercepted contraband transporters.

A few days later, a court hearing was held on the coast guard vessel and, in the company of their country’s chargé d'affaires, all four were found guilty of immigration charges and scheduled to be deported after a short imprisonment.

It was a celebrated case, and Milford was hopeful that he would receive a note of acknowledgement from high command, it never came.  

One month afterwards, he answered his cell phone from behind his desk at the station.

    “ ’Spec, the boat gone, Mam gone.”

    “Mayfield, what you talking about?”

    “Me up yah at Rosa Linda and the rope cut Inspector, dem teif the boat last night.”

Milford was on the pier in eight minutes and so was Matts, who he had also called. 

    “So what happen to the security camera system you have been promising to put in?”

Matts was not going to volunteer for a public flogging.

    “So what happen to your vessel tracking system? I kind of delayed the cameras because I had to install some new equipment for a party at the end of the month. I was going to use that money to finish up the security system....Just a few more days and we would have caught them on camera, but cameras won’t stop determined smugglers.”

Making the call to his commanding officer, c/o, Milford realised that he had already heard about the theft. The Executive Officer had a tightness in his voice and Milford knew that, although he was in the capital far away, his c/o was taking heat for the theft of the boat.

   “Unsecured boat on a private pier Milford? Not only was that vessel government property, but it was a gift from one of our most reliable international partners. This matter does not only concern the police, it involves other ministries. Our minister is scheduled to give an update on the boats at a bilateral event coming up. There is no way that this loss can be looked at as anything but carelessness.”

  “Sorry sir.”

  “Don’t insult me, Milford. Sorry does not even begin to solve this. I am going to order an audit today about the other floating assets in the marine division. If anyone else is using a private pier, that has to cut out now. If this means that all the boats have to be parked at marine headquarters or the commissioner’s office and drive them out to locations when they get a response call, that is what we will be doing. Not even one more boat must be lost. I expect your report about this travesty on my desk before the end of the day.”

Milford rang off.

Without a boat like Mam, the marine police became nearly irrelevant to the parish. Milford and his team were now making calls to charter fishing boats to help out fishermen who were having engine in difficulties out at sea. The police borrowed dinghies that were owned by hotel watersports departments to keep control of unauthorised activities along beaches and the foreshore. Document checks of boat operators and the catch of fishers during closed lobster and conch season simply stopped and harvesting from the sea became a free-for-all. The bridge and marine engineers now had to rent a boat when they needed to check sea walls, piers and other public assets that needed to be inspected while on the water. Most of all, the entire coastline was now unprotected from piracy, and activities that were related to trafficking, narcotics and gun running.  Mam never showed up in any Jamaican port and it was generally accepted that international smugglers had stolen it. The bottom line, was that Mammee parish was hurting and the community needed their police boat returned to work, but law enforcement did not know where it was.

One day, Mayfield asked Milford if he could take a visitor into his office, Milford agreed and in a few moments a man was ushered inside. Although he was wearing his hygiene mask, Milford recognised him as the highly competent boat captain called Turtle. A few months before, Turtle had returned to his home in Ocho Man after doing a few years in the US federal prison system. He wanted to reactivate his coxswain license, but no JP would undertake to sign his documents, which left him angered that he had no criminal record in Jamaica and was being blocked from earning from his trade.

He had come, as he did at least once a week to complain in the police guard room, but today had said something that caused Mayfield to take him to see Milford.

    “Inspector, I thought that you would want to hear what Turtle was saying out there.”

Turtle was very annoyed with himself for allowing his anger to loose his tongue, but at least he now had the attention of an officer.

    “Not no secret, so I don’t know why I am in here. You want to know about your boat? Those same smugglers from Encomienda were upset about how you handled them, so they took it over to Clotilde, stripped it clean and had it as a trophy. The video was going around on social media. You never did see it?” Turtle grunted, but did not laugh, Milford thanked him for his time and let him go.

    “So boss, what bout me license? You can’t do anything for me?”

He did not get an answer.

Milford reached out to the chargé d'affaires for Encomienda, they knew each by sight as the diplomat was regularly in Ocho Man as his countrymen were regularly called before the courts for being in conflict with the law. Milford, asked if he had heard anything about the boat that was taken, and he found the reply astonishing.

    “Milford, you don’t know? I received a dispatch very soon after the boat went missing and your government has the detailed communication. Your police boat was recovered completely stripped of everything except the paint on the hull. It is in the water right now in the customs dock in our capital Clotilde.”

    “You have it! Can we get it back?”

    “Not on its own power. No engines, no electrical equipment.”

    “But, what if we tow it back to Ocho Man?”

    “If you have the boat to do it, yes, it can be done.”

Milford carefully requested a 15-minute telephone appointment through his c/o’s secretary. He needed to lay out a proposal which did not implicate the force as being unconcerned about its property that was gathering crustaceans below the water line in a foreign land.

The Police Boat Mammee “Mam” is a 7.75 metre Boston Whaler. A vessel that could carry 12 and be crewed by a single person. It was manoeuvrable in the marinas and also around the coral fringed coastline. Its two 350 hp engines could not overtake a go-fast boat in a straight line chase, but there were other variables in a pursuit.

Shortly after it was delivered into their hands, Mam pursued a go-fast boat until it was out of view, only for them to catch up with it as the smugglers had run out of petrol before they could make it to their hiding place.

On another occasion, on a fishing bank, Milford had resolved a heated dispute between charter boat captains and fishermen about an entanglement of lobster pots and fishing lines.   

For weeks, they ticketed watersports operators who violated proper use of the harbour and its established channels. A few months afterwards, the public health officer reported that there was a marked decline in trauma cases that were caused by boating collisions in the bight. Mam saved lives, livelihoods and kept the peace. The community needed it returned.

 The corporal patched through the call to the c/o, and after polite salutations, Milford got to the point.

    “Sir, once the PB is back here sir, we, the local station, will raise the funds to bring it back into service, engines, navigation equipment, everything. The community is hurting without a police boat and I can vouch for them giving the support.”

    “So who is going to crew and sail 400 nautical miles to get it and tow it 400 nautical miles back?”

    “Well, agency to agency sir, at your level in the force, you can approach the coast guard for support.”

    “Inspector, that is not how it works. The force does not approach the military outside of established protocols. We have your report in hand, which is damning in its total carelessness in securing government property. The next decisions will be at a more strategic level. I consider this matter to be closed right now. Your note to my office did not have any other matter to discuss...”

    “Yes, sir, I have nothing else. Thank you for your time.”

 Milford realised that he was completely on his own, and was also the fall guy if and when the loss of the boat became a public scandal. His career was on the line, and he decided to reach out to the coast guard on his own. He knew the lieutenant who captained the boat that patrolled that side of the island, they had been on inter-agency training together abroad and had years of cordial relationship on and off the job.

    “Lieutenant, greetings, Milford here from Ocho Man. How you going?”

    “Good to hear from you Milford. I am ok, you know. What’s happening?”

   Milford explained, and as he did, the vocal responses from the lieutenant moved from agreeable, to short to simply silent. Even when Milford finished, there was no response for a few seconds, then his correspondent spoke, and slowly.

    “That is a suicide mission Milford. I cannot expose my men to that. Let me explain it to you. There is no regular commercial shipping route from Jamaica to Porto Clotilde but it is a route that is very heavily used by smugglers. For hours you will be in unpatrolled waters, outside of radio range. Piracy is less of a risk on a military ship, but two or three smaller boats with desperadoes acting together would be a present danger. 

    “Aside from the human element, we have the natural elements. The approach to Clotilde is fringed with mangroves and outside of that is miles of uncharted reefs. The port does not have a good reputation for having properly maintained signals or adequate pilotage staff. You can be floating offshore for a day or more waiting on a pilot to take you in.

    “Believe me Milford, I understand your dilemma, we need the PB back in service, but the coast guard cannot undertake that mission. Get a professional salvage company Milford, or better yet, ship it in a container back to Jamaica, that’s what I recommend. Sorry my brother.”

Both options, Milford knew, would be beyond even his resources. You could buy a new boat for either of those services, and the mission was to retrieve the Mam, not replace it.

Before they had ended the call, Milford’s phone pinged that another call was coming in. He looked at the name that came up on the screen without surprise. He had signed the no objection permit for a day party today at Rosa Linda, and a party at Rosa Linda came with problems. Milford pushed back thoughts of Mam, and switched on to the immediate demands of his job.


The service vehicle pulled up to the gate of Rosa Linda and immediately a loose gathering of young party goers standing along the roadside beside their cars and motor bikes started pulling up their masks. Beside Rosa Linda was another villa called Rudder Bay. It was the owner of Rudder Bay who had called Milford to complain.

Constable Mayfield gave some clear hand directions and soon the vehicles near to Rudder Bay started backing away from its gateway. The security guard at Rosa Linda opened the gate and allowed the service vehicle to drive inside.

The second part of the complaint from the neighbour was noise nuisance.

The villa and its grounds were active with young people who, unless they were an obvious couple, or a trio of friends, were spaciously distanced. He did not observe clustering or bungling. Small marquees and speaker boxes in the garden encouraged dispersed enjoyment of the party. There was no dance floor, but specific areas were emphasized with backdrops or drapery or spotlights to encourage bubbles of friends to exhibit their outfits or their moves. An arrangement of video cameras also projected images of the patrons on surfaces, giving an illusion of being in a vibrant and moving crowd.

In the patio area was Matts, herself, doing what she loved, selecting music that moved an audience. She glanced up at her guests, to do a temperature check on the mood and spotted Milford and Mayfield. She guessed that it was about a public nuisance matter, and having decided that she could not prevent sound waves moving across open air into her neighbour’s yard, had a musical plan in place.

Matts had been playing a set of Afro Pop, gently introducing emerging artistes to the patrons in-between the Anjelique Kidjo and Baaba Maal staples. She now tapped her special effects button to bring in a police siren sound and then started the breathy and gospel flavoured vocals of Diana King’s version of the Culture Club hit, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,

    [2]“Give me time to realise my crime

     Let me love and steal, I have danced inside your eyes, how can I be real?”

The tempo then changed into a reggae pop.

    Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?”

On the break Matts switched to the chart topper from King’s Tougher Than Love album.

[3]“Hey, what goes around comes around.

Lady, treat her like a lady
You’ll make a good girl crazy
If you don't treat her like a lady.”


Milford got the message and laughed inside, but his exterior was a blank canvas.

Matts signalled to the relief DJ and walked past the fun-loving mingling and met the lawmen at the edge of the balcony overlooking her bay. The afternoon wind was up and the waves curled and gently rolled onto the shore. He noticed that a boat that was the same model as Mam was berthed at the pier.

She spoke through her mask and nodded over her shoulder.

    “Neighbour complaining ‘bout the noise?”

Milford looked at her evenly in the eyes. This side of the parish had been cherished as a quiet getaway, owned for decades by the same set of families. Some of the changes that Matts was bringing was not welcomed: the noise from her parties, the crowd, and the kind of music that they preferred. But, he thought, of all the property owners, she was the one who he approached to berth Mam. He knew the others would demand a fee, or not want a mere Inspector of Police to approach them or others would say yes and immediately start demanding special favours. It was not her fault at all that he was in this career tanking predicament.

    “Just turn down the speakers that are closer to that side of the property and get your security to direct traffic better. OK?”

    “I will”, she said and noticed that he was looking at the boat tied to the pier. “I actually got in all the security cameras now, just so you know. That’s my boyfriend’s boat.”

    “That’s nice,” said Milford, swallowing more candid thoughts. “That boat design is almost exclusively used by law enforcement, what kind of boating does he do?”

    “Well, he doesn’t do anything more than drive it around, you know.”

Milford looked at her.

    “No, I don’t know. Is that him down there?”

    “Yes.” When he moved away to the steps that led down to the beach she added. “You know him.”

She remained on the balcony for a few more moments, then reclaimed her space at the turntable.

Mayfield and Milford walked down to the pier, edging past couples or small groups and fell in step on the boardwalk. When Milford saw the face of the occupant of the boat he exclaimed, “Rennie Buckfield!”

The youth, who Milford knew was attending secondary school but three years before and had been in and out of colleges since them, gave a playful salute and invited them on board. Buckfield’s family owned a little bit of every kind of business in the town and the older relatives managed them. His generation, not wanting to be under the control of their parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents, found a way to migrate or work overseas as soon as they graduated from college. A few returned to take over businesses when one of the older folks died. Rennie was not interested in business and not interested in migrating so was settling into the role of bon vivant. It was inevitable that he had linked up with Matts.

Milford was convinced that even if Rennie could produce a coxswain license, he was not a proficient sailor. He had never known him to be interested in boating until now, maybe it was his latest fad.

As Milford moved to step on board rapid barking started and he quickly withdrew his leg. A medium sized dog was beside Buckfield, staring at him and growling. It then charged forward and put its front legs on the gunwale and started barking again.

    “Very nice vessel Rennie. Where have you been sailing?”

    “Just around here, Rosa Linda Bay, ...Would you like to try it out Spec?”

When no one moved, he then realised the problem.

    “My bad.” He whispered, “Down Cyber!” His simple words calmed the dog which retreated to sit beside his feet, head still alert.

    While Mayfield checked the documents, Milford had a good look at the vessel. When he learned that it was Turtle who had moved it there for him, that was enough to satisfy him that it was seaworthy and then he drove the boat beyond the bay and around the coastline to the east. Milford had to agree that the sound from the party was could be heard from quite a distance, but it was not a violation of daytime noise nuisance regulations.
Lying in bed that night, watching video clips of news of the day on his phone, Milford saw that a boat that was overloaded with people travelling as refugees had safely reaching the shores of Florida. The pictures of the size of the craft and number of souls aboard was heart rending, as the outcome would have been different if weather or mechanical problems had beset them.

That was when the thought of taking a small 7 metre boat from Jamaica to Clotilde crossed his mind. All the problems of a ship going across the shallow areas and navigating patches of reefs and mangroves would be eliminated. It was a dream, and he fell asleep feeling the motion of water under his feet as he cut through wave after green wave heading to recover their police boat.

By early morning, the following day, his phone was pinging continuously as members of the community sent him videos and angry voice clips because the garbage from the Linda Rosa day party was now strewn along the roadside and would be blown for miles when the wind picked up. Matts was also pinging him voice clips stating that she was arranging with a private contractor to clean it up at the earliest opportunity.

Milford drove out to the area, and decided to drop in on the suffering owner of Rudder Bay. After he spent half an hour listening to how Matts was a bad neighbour, the conversation drifted to the good old days.

    “So this young lady should realise that the name of her villa, Rosa Linda, should be respected. Not to treat the place as merely a way to make a money from entertainment, but show some regard for her noble ancestors and for the sea.”

Milford realised that he had stopped listening and asked again for the explanation.

    “All the older residents of Mammee parish know this story. The original Matts was a boy who was rescued from a US ship that was trafficking Africans into the USA to be sold into bondage, as slaves. It ran aground on the Rosa Linda bank, half way between Encomiendas and Jamaica. The captives were landed in Ocho Man and Matts was put in the care of the owner of a shipyard that was right here. He was raised as a member of the Stormont family, married a daughter of the owner and eventually ran the family business. Later on, the couple were given half of the property, which is why the two gates are so close. On one side was the ship yard, which is my side, and the other side was called Rosa Linda and this was the Matts family home. Matts never forgot his experience on Rosa Linda and his home was known to be welcoming to seamen who needed extended rest.

    “A couple generations later the family converted it into a well-needed convalescence for sick seamen and then it became a drug rehab facility. You see, it has always served people.

    “Young people don’t care to ask about where things came from. They were born flying, not standing on the shoulders of those who came before. I am a Stormont and we and the Matts are cousins. Rudder Bay got its name because our shipyard provided high quality carved hardwood fittings for boats. I still have all the tools, but we don’t do that work anymore. The Matts and I are family and Rosa Linda has been in the family for now more than 100 years. That should mean something.”


 

Excited, Milford got back into his office and searched the Internet for information about the Rosa Linda bank. He had formed an idea in his mind that a small boat could meet the representatives from Encomienda on the Rosa Linda bank and do a transfer of Mam there. He called the coast guard lieutenant and laid out the idea.

    “I cannot say about 100 years ago Milford, but today the Rosa Linda is completely submerged, it is not like a cay, you cannot see it with the naked eye.”

    “I actually did not know that....”

The thought of the trip, stirred up the adventurous spirit of the lieutenant. He joined the military because of a thirst for a career that would take him outdoors, where he could use his mind and his muscle to accomplish things. This was a unique opportunity to use his navigational skills to cross the Caribbean and be immersed more closely with nature that he could be on a ship.

    “You sound like you have a boat in mind Milford, one of your police units?”

    “No, a private vessel, but I need crew. Can I keep you in mind?”

    “Let me know after you get the paperwork sorted out,” he replied crisply. They rang off.

Paperwork....Milford supposed that meant a call to his commanding officer, he could not speak directly to foreign affairs...or could he? He called the charge d’affaires for Encomienda and they decided to meet up at Rosa Linda.

Matts did not have a tavern license, so served them bottled juice drink under the shade of one of the majestic Mammee trees that were on the property. There, they could talk privately and enjoy the view of the bay. Buckfield’s boat was tied to the pier and Buckfield, with Cyber at his ankles, was engaged with one of the security cameras on the grounds.

The diplomat had listened to Milford and was now preparing to reply.  

    “Using the report that I received from my government, I can recommend that the boat be transferred to the custody of the Jamaican government and that transfer be executed at our Rosa Linda bank border. There will be some administrative costs, but the boat will be back in your hands.”

Milford felt a wave of excitement overwhelm him as he put the pieces of a plan together.  He looked at the table with the two glass bottles of cold drink that were now wet with tracks of water draining down to the table coasters. The coasters were cork discs with the fading words “Sweet Jamaica Festival 77”. It seems that Matts is keeping some of the items that she found in the house.


 

Milford considered how to approach Buckfield about borrowing his boat for the trip, and decided to talk to Matts first. She seemed to have significant influence over her boyfriend. Matts called him back to say that Buckfield had not only agreed to lend his boat, but was excited about going on the trip.

    “Matts, Buckfield is not a sailor. He can only circle the boat around your bay, this is not a trip for learners.”

    “That is his only requirement, Spec, that he, and Cyber, get to go.”

The lieutenant was not happy to hear about it and saw the owner and his dog as on board hazards, but still accepted the mission.

The final member of the crew was Turtle. Mayfield was relieved that he was not asked to participate.

Over the next days, Matts sealed off the Rosa Linda dining room as their meeting base. Mayfield, Milford, Buckfield, the lieutenant, the chargé d'affaires and Turtle. They mapped out the route, and calculated the amount of extra fuel to carry. By quiet solicitation in the community, they secured and installed additional communication and navigation equipment, safety gear and provisions. They had several discussions on the specifications for the rope that would be good for towing a 7 metre boat on open water for several hours.

Finally, the chargé d'affaires received an email from his office with the document of transfer and the date and time to meet at the Rosa Linda two weeks hence. The formal process was for the note to be sent to the foreign affairs office, which would then go to the defence ministry, and after that, the police.  Milford rejoiced that the document had a date, as without it, they could be waiting weeks on a reply from the authorities.

A few days before the due date, Milford received a call from his commanding officer.

    “I see here a letter about a boat transfer. This just cannot come out of the blue just so. Tell me, you know something about this?”

    “Yes sir, we learned that Encomiendas was making preparations to meet us at their border with the boat.”

    “So who is going to get it? A cruise ship? It needs a government agent to sign for it.”

    “We have a private boat sir, and local crew that knows the sea, and I will sign the transfer.”

    “Oh, so you have a plan without involving your divisional leader. At this point, I do not want to be involved, so hear what. Go on with your plan and I will forward the transfer document to you 24 hours before.  What you do with it, is your decision.”


The rendezvous time on the Rosa Linda was 10AM, Jamaica time, which meant setting off from 5AM, if the weather was favourable. As it turned out, a Nor'Wester was coming in, and the crew decided to head out two hours earlier to be ahead of the weather and get to the meeting point earlier rather than later.

At 6PM the evening before, they started loading the boat and the boat rope was delivered at that time.

    “We can’t take all of this,” the lieutenant objected. This is twice as much as we need and there is nowhere proper to store it onboard. The crew is going to hand over their tow rope to us, so what is the point of even taking this load?”

Turtle spoke up.

    “Is so water police and coast guard run boat my boss? You can’t go out and rely on people who you don’t know for a basic supply like your own rope. Just relax, I will sort this out.”

They rested at Rosa Linda that evening and night and at 3AM, they were ready to pull out.

Matts was at the dock with the security guard and hugged herself as they pulled away, she was scared that the trip may not be successful for all and watched until the lights of the boat merged into the moonlit line of the horizon. She then went to the library that was being converted into a disco, and stayed awake through the night by playing music that reminded her of her fun times on the cruise ship, as it soothed her.

In his apartment, the chargé d'affaires sent a final well-wishing text to Milford at 3AM, and then put down his phone. He stopped the great emotions that were welling up in his chest and instead clasped his hands and prayed for the safety of the crew and the success of the voyage.


The first few hours of the journey were easy and the crew were quietly light hearted and optimistic. They made good pace and the weather was holding calm when they arrived on the waters that were above the sunken atoll of the Rosa Linda bank. The sea was a clear aquamarine and there were whitecaps coming in from the west. They kept throttling in a wide circle so as not to drift away, all the time watching the western sky dampen darker.

At 10:30 they became concerned that they had not seen the other boat appear and there was no way to reach them. They circled for another hour and then the hull of a ship came into view towing a Boston Whaler, it was Mam, looking as cheerful and ready to do business despite its encrusted hull and fully gutted insides. None of them expected a ship to do the towing, and that fact presented fresh challenges.

Through hand signals, the Encomienda crew indicated that the Jamaican representative was to join them by climbing on the outside ladder that was let down from the deck of the ship. The sea was now bearing one metre swells. The sky directly above them was clear, but bad weather was not too far away.

The hulls of the two vessels were touching each other and Milford reached out and grabbed the ladder, and focused on his breathing while climbing slowly up to the deck. Each time the ship rose, he felt his concentration being pried from him. As his second leg was planted on the deck of the ship, he hurled for the first time.

The crew hustled him into a cabin and spoke to him in Spanish which he did not understand. He signed papers without reading them and placed them in a plastic envelope which he then pushed between his undershirt and his chest, then faced the torture of climbing back down to his boat. He collapsed on the deck from the disabling seasickness.

The lieutenant steered directly behind the ship. Then the ship’s crew threw down the free end of the rope that was tied to Mam. Buckfield used a hook to get the rope out of the water, then handed it to Turtle who first threaded in a car tyre then knotted their boat rope to the one that was thrown down to them. He lashed the ropes to both the port and starboard cleats creating a neat Y shaped tow line with the tyre dangling between the boats as a stabiliser for the rudderless Mam.

Even while they were doing this, the ship had already turned and was steadily becoming smaller as it returned to its base. The lieutenant kept his nose pointed north east while the others held their heads down as it had started to rain.

After about half an hour, Milford realised he was feeling a bit better and remarked to himself that they were making faster pace than before. He looked behind to see the dangling rope and not a sight of Mam anywhere between the grey sky and the nearly dark sea. He tried to shout a warning but in his fright and panic, nothing came out. It was Turtle who saw the intensity in his eyes and followed his trembling finger to see what was not there.

It was a scramble from there with the group having no awareness on what direction the boat could have floated away and how much longer before. A decision was taken to go in circles and everyone assigned a section of sea to watch. It was after half an hour before the boat was spotted and they made a chase for it.  Turtle pulled out unused rope and again created two sets of knotting. They pulled up alongside Mam, and very quickly Buckfield climbed aboard and Turtle threw over the new rope to him, which he caught and held. Turtle then climbed over and noticed that the original rope had burst. Together, he and Buckfield secured the new rope to the prow of Mam. With each pull as he knotted the rope, Turtle felt a wave of thankful assurance of the gift of the strength in his arms, and that his fingers almost worked without his thoughtful mind to solve the immediate problems that they now faced.

The lieutenant checked the gas levels. All souls were alive and they were heading home, but deeper into bad weather. Throttling on the Rosa Linda for an hour then the extra time searching for Mam after the rope broke had caused them to use up the additional containers of fuel. Depending on how bad the weather got, they may have enough to get them back into Jamaican territorial waters, but not enough to get them back into port.

Squalls and breeze now buffeted them and backed up the water to form waves that were up to two metres high. As they pushed onwards, the slick, barnacled, black body of a whale breached beside them and then heavily crashed into the sea, casting the boat in a new sea dance caused by its splash.

    “Bull sperm whale,” said Turtle.

The whale did not leave them alone but travelled alongside them for some minutes quite close, breaching and crashing down, causing both boats to rock in contrast to the natural rolling of the waves and to take in briny waterfalls of water. At times, the creature looked at them out of its unlashed mammalian eye that sat within a head as big as the bow of a ship, its white mouth gaped, demonstrating long sharp teeth. The pupils moved up and across as it took in the spectacle of the two boats and decided again to slap its fluke and splash more water into the boat. The experience made the lieutenant think about life. He had no time at this moment to marvel in the wonders of the natural world, but saved any fragment of his mind that was not terrified to beseech a higher power for their safety.

Then the whale dived, but that was no comfort to Turtle who had seen this kind of behaviour before. When it breached, Cyber was ready for it and kept up a barking and a growling that the whale was sure to have heard. The whale pulled away from the lead boat, and instead lined up with Mam, which bore Cyber’s master.

The dog seemed to grow even more agitated, and all but jumped out of the boat. The lieutenant decided to turn around and go closer to Mam so that the ferocious barking of the dog could be heard by the whale, and it did back off and then seemed to make a decision to change direction.

Turtle called out and beckoned the lieutenant to veer right. Then the others saw the top of a small tree. The lieutenant worked out that Turtle was directing him to find the rock or small island and anchor them there until the storm passed.

It was a rocky island with pieces of old rope and old metal tied to or stuck in various parts of it, seafarers had been saved here, or had died here before. The anchor was lowered on the lee side, and they found that it held fast. The lieutenant switched off the engine, and they lived through every experience of the long moments. The obliterating sound of the waves crashing against each other and against the island and the boats; the hard, driving rain splattering the ocean and swirling around in every direction from the wind; the coldness of the air although it was the middle of the afternoon; the salt in their eyes and mouths and noses. The yearning for fresh water but also for dryness from the overwhelming water above, and also below. The intense rocking and lurching and jolting of the sea, every now and then, threw a fish or a piece of kelp in the boat and then out again. Milford continually emptied his stomach, and with each break, offered thanks for the reputation of the Boston Whaler company that their boats were unsinkable and that it would get them home.

The sunshine returned before the sea calmed and they saw that there was a wreck of an upturned fisherman’s canoe on the small island, and then miraculously, a man crawled out from under the boat and with a bit more manoeuvring, he joined Milford and the lieutenant on their boat.

It was a Jamaican fisherman and he told them exactly where they were, and assured them that they would be within cell range if they drove another few leagues. They were able to call Ocho Man station and before they ran out of petrol, the coast guard ship came into view. The ship provided petrol and the lieutenant was able to drive into Ocho Man Bay, towing Mam.


The pickup slowly reversed down the new ramp until the trailer attached it was submerged in the seawater and the boat that was attached, immediately rocked up and down with the brisk, afternoon breeze that was freshening Rosa Linda Bay and in fact, the entire environs of Mammee bight. The driver was not Mayfield, he had been promoted to corporal and transferred to another station.

Buckfield, wearing police trainee denim, stepped into Mam and deftly parked it into position at the end of the pier, his boat was tied like its twin at the other side of the pier. Beside him, feet on the prow, was Cyber wearing a dog life jacket with an embroidered police shield appliqued on the side.

Matts was at the turntable under the Mammee tree

   [4]“In this arms the babies cradle

    In his eye the evil tremble

    From his heart the mighty water flows

   So softly as we seek salvation in this righteous revelation,

   Give some love and inspiration now.

   Praise Him, the Almighty Father.

 

This afternoon was a ceremony to commemorate the return of Mam to service and it seemed that all of Ocho Man was there. Mam had been in dry dock for the better part of a year, and after strenuous fund raising, was now fully outfitted, examined and insured. A formal arrangement was also in place for Rosa Linda Bay pier to be the official dock for the Ocho Man police. The major leaders of the town were on hand to say a few words in honour of the event and also the many citizens who helped to raise money - from cookie and bake sales, concerts and private donations - that together brought the boat back into service.

The speech of the head of the chamber of commerce actually declared that Ocho Man now owned the boat, and not the police, and this declaration was received with warm applause.

A shipbuilding colleague of Matts from her cruise ship days had visited Rosa Linda and had seen Rudder Bay. He and Stormont were in discussions about leasing the property to build sailing yachts with foils.

The coast guard lieutenant had been promoted to Captain and celebrated this by growing a beard. Turtle had been approved for a coxswain license, and was now always employed and quickly saving up to buy a small party catamaran so that he did not have to go further than 30 minutes from landfall. Matts and Buckfield were planning to get married as soon as he graduated from the police academy. After their trip to Rosa Linda bank, he realised that deep down he had always wanted to be in police service. He confessed this to Matts who had been through so much emotional anguish when they made the trip that she was distressed to know that he was determined to follow his calling.

What finally got her to accept it, is when she realised how angry it made her to see that he was suffering because his family was set against him doing anything but go into business. Matts clasped her to his bosom, grateful to have found that caring person to nourish his soul.

Milford’s career was still stifled, but there was one big benefit from being stationed in Ocho Man. He saw that the charge ‘d affaires was sitting on the balcony drinking a cool juice drink. As soon as the ceremonials were over, he would join him up there.

THE END

Gwyneth Harold Davidson
April 24, 2021

[1] Beres Hammond and Popcaan “God is Love” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRw2gNWuo2I

[2] Diana King, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nan3Ls5gOvA

[3] Diana King “Treat Her Like a Lady” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9li2SzImyus

[4] Chalice “Praise Him” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeQDYIxWizY