Phantastic Phil in Duncan Town
03 April 2010 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
Beth / 85 at noon in the shade, E20
It is time to properly introduce you to Phicol (Phil) Wallace. This kind and gracious man has been our Guardian Angel here in Ragged Island. Phil and his buddies were in the boat that stopped by in Racoon Cay, to welcome us to the area, collect garbage, and probably to see who we were! It was Phil who said he'd do some checking on finding a new bearing for our Mercury 5 hp outboard motor.
It was Phil who made numerous calls to suppliers in Nassau and Long Island and back to us to report that the part couldn't be located. It was Phil who then made calls to get prices on a new Yamaha 15 to which we had decided to upgrade. It was Phil who put Jim in touch with Shane from Harbourside Marine in Nassau and who came out to Hog Cay on Thursday with the faxed order for Jim to sign, and who then faxed it back to Harbourside Marine in time for the motor to get loaded on the boat that afternoon.
I had wanted so badly to move around to Ragged Island Harbour on Saturday so we could see the mailboat "reach" and take pictures of the event, but the wind direction made that a poor idea. We remained anchored in Hog Cay while I grumbled around Madcap all morning - all my journalistic inclinations thwarted - taking only distant pictures of the Captain C as it came across the banks and passed out of sight behind Hog Cay Point. And then Phil came to the rescue again!
He and Jerard - a mailboat worker - came by ("passed by" in island lingo) to chat while the rest of the crew started unloading. He said he'd go back to pick up our motor when some space had been cleared on the deck of the Captain C. When I asked him if he needed Jim to go with him, he said, "You can both come if you want" and it didn't take two minutes before we were both aboard his boat with "Little Loonie" (our dinghy) tied on behind.
Once at the mailboat, we tied up alongside, (I hopped aboard to take pictures of the crane, the hold, the pallets of goods bound for Ragged Island) and it wasn't long before Phil came across the deck holding a Yamaha 15 outboard motor. He mounted it on the dinghy, hailed Melvin - a crewmwmber - to get some more gas so that we had the right mix of gas and oil in the tank, and then Melvin and Jim took it out for a spin. When Jim kept insisting that we would pay him for his time, his steely-eyed response was, "You don't owe me a thing." Well - we sure owe him plenty of thanks and appreciation!
Before we left Hog Cay on Wednesday, Phil passed by once again, this time to visit with us and to collect our old outboard motor that we wanted to leave with him. We enjoyed a couple of hours of quality time over coffee and scones. We learned that Phil was born here, spent some of his boyhood on Little Farmer's Cay where his mother was the school principal for many years, went to high school and college in Nassau and then decided to move back "home". He is the Chief Councillor of the 5 person Ragged Island Council and at 36, the youngest of them too. He is passionate about encouraging and helping his fellow islanders to manage the changes that are occurring with the financial boost that is providing the enlarged airport, improved streets and the new dock and breakwater. Phil's attitude toward the increased cruising traffic is telling. He wants Duncan Town to provide services - affordable food and drink, a laundry - and he is most emphatic that the relationship between cruisers and locals be one based on friendship and fair dealing rather than just money making.
Phil is the local manager of Bahama Electric Corporation, and also owns and operates Silvertail Fishing Lodge (with its rooms all rented at the moment to the construction crew on the island) and is one of the core group of young entrepreneurs here.
When we come back here - as we surely will - I want to meet his grandma who lives across the street and taught him as a young boy to be careful how his tongue wags, "That little red rag will make you or destroy you!" and who knows Everything about Ragged Island. Phil's wife, Erica, (from Staniel Cay) and his two (and almost three) children were away in Nassau for Easter break so we'll have to wait till next time to meet them too.
By next year, we'll be able to chow down on cheeseburgers and Kaliks at the Silvertail Lodge while we connect with the internet. With luck, this thoughtful and enterprising man will have time to visit with us again and fill us in on what's been happening on Ragged Island. If he is successful in moving vision to reality, things will be happening.
When any of you readers come here, be sure to look up our new friend and Guardian Angel!