Bobbi Misick_Sloop Story

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  • 7/31/2019 Bobbi Misick_Sloop Story


    20 winter 08 / s3






    A nAtive dAughter

    returns to discover

    her nAuticAl pAst

    And its precArious

    futureBy BoBBi Misick

    PhotograPhy By

    vince cook }{











  • 7/31/2019 Bobbi Misick_Sloop Story


    22 winter 08 / s3

    Dad says Par (Grandpa in the Turks & Caicos;

    pronounced pah) had a sailboat named the

    Flying Arrow or as long as he could remem-

    ber, but I would never know it. In my count-

    less visits to my Grandparents home in North

    I never went sailing with him. Being one o

    the younger granddaughters, the option

    wasnt even available to me. I wasnt allowed

    beyond o the stretch between Mar and Pars

    house and my Aunts Titter and Verninces

    homes, just down the road. Besides, by the

    time I came around Par had long since

    switched to motorboats.

    Even more regrettable was my oblivion to

    the lineage o sailors that myand many

    other Turks Islandersamily belong to. As a

    little girl, my ather would tell me that we

    came rom Bermudian sailors who settled inthe Turks & Caicos Islands to cultivate the salt

    industry. I accepted the inormation and

    never inquired urther. It wasnt until a recent

    trip to Bermuda, where I was requently

    asked, Are you related to so-and-so Misick

    on island? that I made the connection.

    When I was in primary school in the late

    80s and 90s, I regretully learned more about

    Englands discovery o the new world in my

    social studies classes than I did o my own

    countrys culture. My story is not unique to

    those o many young Turks & Caicos Islanders

    now in their 20s, raised in a country quite di-

    erent rom that o their parents, with electric-

    ity, and American television, in the height o

    new development. Consequently, we ace the

    extinction o a tradition that dates back to the

    17th Century. One perhaps we never com-

    pletely comprehended in the rst place.

    As early as 1690, a large number o Bermu-

    dian sloops were sold to the mainland colonies,Herman Sadler, author o Turks Islands Landall

    writes in his comprehensive account o TCI set-

    tlement and growth. They went to the Turks

    Islands o

    nies, wh

    four, co


    by the T



    ited in t

    the ede



    and saili


    the act t

    our cultu


    Hon. Ca

    thing we

    In e

    the clas



    and saili

    The go

    cial conexplana

    is the in

    that gen

    My grandfatherwAsA fisherMAnfrom Bottle

    Creek,north cAicos.

    at left Ut nim aci

    ex ea conseniam

    dolorerit la feUt

    feUm dolore ero

    esto dolor sit irit

    ad molor si eUis

    nibh pel dUissi.

    lobore tem adignim

    zzriUre do doles

    seqUis aUgUers.

    at left Ut nim aci

    ex ea conseniam

    dolorerit la feUt

    feUm dolore ero

    esto dolor sit irit

    ad molor si eUis

    nibh pel dUissi.

    lobore tem adignim

    zzriUre do doles

    seqUis aUgUers.

  • 7/31/2019 Bobbi Misick_Sloop Story


    24 winter 08 / s3











    Today, the approximately 21,000 resi-

    dents [o the Turks & Caicos] are enjoying a

    prosperous development boom, which has

    allotted them time to consider their history

    and aspire to promote the preservation o their

    traditions and culture, H. E. Ross, ounder o

    the Maritime Heritage Foundation explains.

    These aspirationsand some nagging rom

    his eldest son, who wanted to build a sloop

    led Maritime Heritage Federation member

    James Parker Junior, to build his rst boat. Better

    knows as JJ, this grandson and son to recog-

    nized sloop builders, James Parker I and James

    Parker II, had limited boat-building experience.

    He admittedly didnt inherit his precursorsondness or wood, but with the guidance o

    established builder Pastor Samuel Goldston Wil-

    liams a.k.a. Pastor Gold rom Bottle Creek, JJ

    learned what his ather had known years ago.

    I never wanted to build a boat, JJ admits.

    But I went to Pastor Gold and I said Pastor,

    my son wants to build a boat. Pastor said, i

    you build this boat, Ill help you. But I aint

    gon build it or you.

    Gold created the boats stern and transom,

    the vertical surace o the stern (the rear o the

    boat) rom a small cedar tree. I kept seeing

    this tree at Crystal Bay road. It took me a while

    beore I decided to cut it down, JJ recalls.

    The boat has a counter-stern transom,

    meaning that the bottom o the transom does

    not sit in the water, instead the hull, the belly

    o the boat, reaches out o the water to meet

    the transom. Under Golds watchul eye, theboat is slowly constr ucted; the stern, the kheel,

    the curved ribs carved out rom the bend in

    two pieces o plywood, and nally the sides o

    the boat are all painstakingly assembled.

    Unlike the vessels that took my grandather

    and his ellow sailors to the South Caicos shing

    grounds to gather conch or trade or to the docks

    o Haiti to exchange dried conch or ruits and

    vegetables, JJs sloop will be used recreationally

    or racing in the various regattas around the

    islands. The 2007 Provo Day Regatta saw 10 boats

    on the water in Blue Hills. By the end o the year

    there will be about 20 boats, says Goldray

    Ewing, a ounding member o the Maritime

    Heritage Federation who grew up in Wheeland,

    the western neighborhood o Blue Hills, known

    or some o the Turks & Caicos most notable

    building amilies. Culture is something that is

    alive, it evolves Ewing says. Were not usingboats to work anymore, were using boats to race

    and eventually boat building will evolve.

    Ewing belongs to the group o TCI builders

    and sailors to adapt sloop building and sailing

    ater its use or livelihood became obsolete. He

    built his rst boat this year with speed and orig-

    inality in mind, only ater being schooled by

    some more accomplished builders including

    Pastor Gold, Wing Deano the well-known

    Dean boat-building amily also rom Whee-

    landand Albert Higgs rom North Caicos.

    I wanted to use the classic boat building

    principles, but I wanted my own style. So, I used

    Pastor Golds beautiul skills o the ribs and I used

    the lines rom Wings and Albert Higgs boats. I

    tried to get everything that someone has on their

    boat and then something extra. So my stern is

    backwards. Its the only boat on island with abackward stern, and the rudder is inside.

    Also raised in Wheeland, Kevin Bubba

    Harvey shares a similar history to Goldray.

    Bubba built Sailing Paradisea colorul beach-

    ront plaza in Blue Hills that eatures island style

    cooking on one end and a git shop and hair-

    braiding salon on the otherto commemorate

    his love o sailing. Anchored just o shore foats

    two 27-oot boats, smaller replicas o his grand-

    parents David and Cecilia Smiths 36 oot

    vessels, the Evergreen and the Valley Stream.

    As children, Bubba and Goldray were accus-

    tomed to rowing (or scalling, as its termed in

    the islands) boats or the older shermen heading

    to the West and South Caicos shing grounds.

    The only way I could go out with the bigger

    boats was i I would scall, Goldray remembers.

    When it was time to come back we would heist

    a big bed sheet up with a pole. Thats how Ilearned about wind direction and current.

    One or two o us young boys would go

    on the boat to pull up the anchor while they

    dove or lobster and conch and we would get

    about $10 or that. We would also get money

    or packing the conch. We would have to

    jump on the bags to pack in the conchs,

    Bubba laughs at the memory. When the

    young boys werent on the boats they were

    on the beach or in the elds. I you grew up

    in Blue Hills you were bound to love the

    water, Goldray says. We had no television

    and that played a big role in the kids o yes-

    teryear enjoying things outdoors.

    The introduction o cable TV to the Turks

    & Caicos Islands in the 80scatalyzed by

    major developments in Provosigniied a

    major shit in the values and desires o the

    islands youth and by the time Bubba andGoldray graduated rom high school in 1984,

    Provo had transormed dramatically. That

    same year, the all-inclusive resort Club Med

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    26 winter 08 / s3

    you hav

    Misick. be a tim

    lobster a



    tent, isla


    in the


    Dean re

    leaves a

    and the

    steam. W

    ork and

    sharp st

    and stick


    other liv

    special o

    neighbocreeks an

    I y

    an excit

    Turquoise opened its doors on Grace Bay,

    prompting the construction o large importdocks and the Providenciales International

    Airport out o necessity.

    Provo became more prominent as it became

    a port o entry. People rom Provo didnt have to

    go to Grand Turk and shop keepers on the other

    islands could import directly to Provo and then

    carry their goods over to North Caicos and other

    Caicos Islands (a much shorter distance than

    traveling to South or Grand Turk as was custom-

    ary), says North Caicos native, ormer Chie

    Minister, C. Washington Misick.

    Prior to Provos growth boom, many young

    Turks & Caicos Islanders let the islands to seek

    employment in neighboring countries. They

    went to the Bahamas to work in the tourism

    industry. They were the bartenders, the garden-

    ers, the kitchen help and the construction

    workers. Misick says. Many Turks & Caicos

    Islanders with sailing experience navigatedcargo boats, carrying goods around the Carib-

    bean and in some cases around the world.

    Pringle Dean, a prominent boat builder

    rom Wheeland, made deliveries in Venezu-

    ela, Peru, the United States, and the Bahamasas a boat captain. Pringle is Wing Deans older

    brother and son to esteemed sailor John

    Algeiron Dean. John Dean was the mail and

    goods carrier between Grand Turk and Provi-

    denciales or many years. Ater sailing around

    the Caribbean and South America, Pringle

    settled in the Bahamas, working as a captain

    in the water sports industry beore returning

    to his native Turks & Caicos.

    Pastor Gold let North Caicos and set sail

    or work as well, transporting uel around

    the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean

    or Shell Bahamas LTD. He eventually ound

    himsel sailing throughout Central America,

    the Mediteranean, and Asia working or the

    West India Shipping Company.

    By the time sailors like Pringle and Gold

    let home, the shing trade had made the shit

    rom a subsidiary level to an industrial one,driving the prices o seaood in the Turks &

    Caicos up dramatically. Most sh and conch i s

    caught or exportin order to buy it at home

    i wAnted to use the classicBoAt-principles, But i wAnted my own

    at left Ut nim aci

    ex ea conseniam

    dolorerit la feUt

    feUm dolore ero

    esto dolor sit irit

    ad molor si eUis

    nibh pel dUissi.

    lobore tem adignim

    zzriUre do doles

    seqUis aUgUers.

    at left Ut nim aci

    ex ea conseniam

    dolorerit la feUt

    feUm dolore ero

    esto dolor sit irit

    ad molor si eUis

    nibh pel dUissi.

    lobore tem adignim

    zzriUre do doles

    seqUis aUgUers.

  • 7/31/2019 Bobbi Misick_Sloop Story


    28 winter 08 / s3











    Pastor Gold remembers with enthusiasm.

    There would be singing and rip-saw playing;

    thats how we got that whole rake-and-scrape

    culture you know.

    To launch the boats, the men created a

    pulley system, tying logs together and placing

    skids under the logs so that the boat could

    launch into the creek once it was close enough

    to the shore. As they went down to the creek,

    people would be dancing to the natural rhythm

    o the logs and as the stern hit the skids, shes

    launched into the water and they would

    announce the name while shes in the air,

    Pastor Gold recalls. Back then the names

    werent painted on the sides like they are now.In those days, Gold details, builders used

    whatever paints they could nd at TIMCO, a

    wholesale supplier in Grand Turk, to paint their

    boats. They would burn ants nests and take

    the ashes and mix it with the paint to putty the

    boat. And the sails would come rom Haiti and

    we would have to sew them by hand, he goes

    on. Today sails are made in the United States.

    They come and you just put them on.

    Back in Bottle Creek, Gold built his rst boat

    ater leaving primary school at 14. It was

    common or young men to leave primary school

    in search o a trade; high school was reserved or

    those who could aord to send their children to

    Grand Turk or abroad or schooling. In those

    days none o the Caicos Islands had high schools

    and it was hard to send kids to Grand Turk to go

    to school, he says. Gold always had an inclina-

    tion to cut wood, and he learned by apprentic-ing with his athers cousin, Alred Smith,

    sneaking out ater his aternoon chores to hand

    Cousin Alred his tools.

    Ater school, we would have to get water

    rom the well. We had to take the Ankle

    Express that means we had to walk to the

    well. I would take two or three trips or water

    and ater I was nished I used to slip out and

    go see Cousin Alred. I built my rst boat in

    my backyard, Pastor Gold continues.

    Anytime my daddy (who was a mason)

    would put down his saw and his hammer.

    When Gold was a youngster, his amily

    worked in the elds o a North Caicos settle-

    ment called Smith, north o Major Hill (pro-

    nounced like Madgie Hill by TC Islanders)

    with other local amilies. They not only used

    their boats to go shing, but also to travel

    rom the creek to Smith, as there were nomotor vehicles or paved roads in North

    Caicos until the early 70s. Gold used his boat

    on these daily trips to Smith.

    My little boat was aster than my daddys

    boatI used to take it out to the eld so I

    could race him. One day we were coming

    back to the creek and my sisters saw the boat

    and named it The Strange Mosquito, because

    thats what it looked like.

    Around the same time, George Dean and

    his brother Shadrack were sailing with their

    ather John, scalling the boat to South and West

    Caicos to catch conch and lobster using what

    George calls a bucket glass to see their quarry.

    In lieu o the modern mask, a bucket glass is a

    small wooden pail with glass at the bottom or

    divers to look through. We would go to West

    Caicos or a week at a time and spend all daycatching conch, beating conch, shucking conch,

    and placing conch on metal scaolds. The next

    day we would bruise the conch and string it up

    to dry. But sometimes external actors would

    interere with the catch o the day. I remember

    one day we went back to the scaold and the

    laughing birds (seagulls) ate all the conch! That

    was a whole days work gone, George laughs.

    While George and Shadrack did travel with

    their ather to Grand Turk to trade dried conch

    or groceries, they never let the country on the

    boat to trade with Haitian understandable

    exclusion. JJ Parker remembers, One time I

    went rom here to Haiti and I didnt want to go

    again that ocean was r ude out there.

    The trip to and rom Haiti could take up to

    seven days depending on who you talk to. When

    the boats returned they would be laden with

    mangoes, pears, plantains, oranges, red peas, redand yellow corn and sweet treats. When they

    were coming back rom Haiti, theyd announce

    it on the radio [when the boats reached Grand

    Turk] and it was only about a days trip [rom

    Grand Turk to Provo] and you would see all the

    local amilies lined up on the beach, Bubba

    Harvey, a relative o the Deans, narrates. When

    they would go to Haiti your whole lie used to

    stop because you had no ood.

    It was an experience back in those

    daysthings were tough but we could go

    through the tough times. I always tell my

    children, you come in the good days, when

    they got lots o ood, lots o clothes and lots

    o shoes, Harvey explains.

    Indeed, we are living in the good days. In

    recent years, the Turks & Caicos Islands have

    seen a rapid growth in the tourism industry.

    Grace Bay Beach is now lined with resorts andupcoming condo-tels; West Caicos, uninhabited

    or quite some time, is the location or a new

    Ritz Carleton Resort; and the privately owned

  • 7/31/2019 Bobbi Misick_Sloop Story


    30 winter 08 / s3

    Dellis Cay has attracted the renowned Mandarin

    Oriental Hotel and the creativity o amedarchitects like Zaha Hadid and Shigeru Ban.

    Unortunately, not unlike many other emergent

    Caribbean countries, the risk o losing distinc-

    tive components o our nations culture grows

    with the increase o an i nternational presence.

    With all the major development that has

    taken place, people have re-ocused, Hon.

    Carlton Mills explains. And in speaking with

    the sloop builders o the islands, one comment

    continued to surace. Sailing is a part o our

    culture and Im araid its going to die, says

    Pastor Gold. It would be a shame to see us

    allow the tradition to end. Its ading away and

    when this (mid-aged) generation goes it

    might be lost, Pringle Dean reiterates.

    Turks & Caicos Islanders have long depended

    on oral tradition to pass down recipes rom

    making Johnny Cakes to building sailboats. This

    poses a denite threat o extinction to culturesthat cannot conorm to the new o rder. There are

    no text books to instruct a younger generation

    just how to build a customary Middle Caicos

    Sloop when the Forbes o Bambarra, Middle

    Caicos are no longer with us, or how to cratthe impeccable lines perected by North Caicos

    Albert Higgs. Its a privilege to have a culture

    as rich as ours, Goldray Ewing emphasizes.

    But culture is a delicate chain, loose a link and

    you could be in d eep water.

    The weakest link is young adults like me,

    raised with no true understanding o how

    rich our culture really is. Luckily, when re-

    structuring society, a counter-culture almost

    always arisesone that reminds us to hold

    on to the ways o the past and carry them

    into our uture. With the support o the gov-

    ernment, the Maritime Heritage Foundation

    has taken on this responsibility, sensitizing

    the primary school students o the tradition

    through classroom visits and eldtrips. Most

    o the kids enjoy the sailing program,

    Goldray says, with only two noted dissenters

    out o the more than 400 students they havetaken to sea. I would like to see a Junior

    Program like a Junior Regatta though that can

    sail in the morning beore the regular Regat-

    tas like i

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    on a m


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    boat rac

    Caicos I

    tion to t

    racing th


    that trad


    thrive ha

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    sense o

    orce th

    and the

    OurIve bee

    Dean say

    sun, the

    at left Ut nim aci

    ex ea conseniam

    dolorerit la feUt

    feUm dolore ero

    esto dolor sit irit

    ad molor si eUis

    nibh pel dUissi.

    lobore tem adignim

    zzriUre do doles

    seqUis aUgUers.

    at left Ut nim aci

    ex ea conseniam

    dolorerit la feUt

    feUm dolore ero

    esto dolor sit irit

    ad molor si eUis

    nibh pel dUissi.

    lobore tem adignim

    zzriUre do doles

    seqUis aUgUers.

    i wAnted to use the classicBoAt-principles, But i wAnted my own