April 20, 2018 – Despite its diminutive dimensions and small population (3 by ½ mile and 1,500 folks), the “Friendly Island” has much to offer from beach and water sports to fishing to fancy and local eats, and we partook in it all. Along the way, acquaintances and even friendships were developed with local characters. Foremost was Dockmaster Aldon with his dozen or so Aunts (who seem to run everything on Briland).
Judy and her husband Lawrence and her local breakfast dishes at LJ’s across from the Lighthouse Evangelical church.
Queen Conch Letitia – yes one of Aldon’s Aunts – who served up her delicious conch salad and reintroduced Thach to the delights of fresh Whelk – and memories of childhood visits to Brighton on the southern beaches of England.
Anna, a local German-Bahamian, who runs the Sweetspot vegan restaurant and beach community yoga morning sessions.
Captain Rich Hellmuth and Jordy, who operate deep sea fishing trips on Mark Messier’s boat Wani-Kanati.
Jennifer Messier, Mark’s sister, who runs the Runnaway Inn, serving up excellent fish specials based on fresh catches off the Wani Kanati.
Bernard and wife Holly, project managers of the $60 million redevelopment of Harbour Island marina.
Sammy, domino maven holding nightly court at his eponymous dive bar.
Our first visitor was Emma, whose two-week stay was focused on studying for her International Baccalaureate finals. She did venture out enough to get sunburnt, join beach yoga, get massages, and join a club crawl on her final evening. She also got the news that UBC had offered her a half scholarship for all four years. The decision to join Evan at UBC was not hard to make after her parents told her that she would get to keep the scholarship money to fund her gap year and spending money in Vancouver. Fretting over college over – job well done.
Melissa and Andy and Larry and Andra arrived soon after to provide the critical mass to finally prompt the official renaming of Emmanou only a year late. The ceremony started well as Karin did a good job of thanking the boat in her previous guises and various sea gods, Emma read a boat poem, and we toasted with Prosecco, then the Keystone Cops routine started. The ceremonial bottle of bubbly was in a bag to prevent scattering of glass shards in the harbour. Emma’s first effort bounced off the anchor, the rope broke on the second, sending the bottle in a graceful arc into the marina waters. Larry was sent for a free dive retrieval of the bottle. On the second attempt the string broke again. Larry got back in the water. So it was time for Thach to take over proceedings – with a similar outcome. Larry went in again for a third time. Someone came up with the excellent suggestion that maybe we could use a stronger line. Fourth attempt, this time with a boat docking line tied to the bag, was so successful that there was no identifiable glass shard to keep as a souvenir. Emmanou had finally been renamed.
While the rest of the crew took to the beach, Larry and Thach tried fishing off the tender in the Devil’s Backbone. Thach momentarily had a small shark on the hook before the shark bit down on the line and Larry came back with a Snapper which Karin released later that day.
Larry and Andra’s departure coincided with the arrival of Zhachary, Alex and Kirsten in time for a deep-sea fishing trip on Wani Kanati. Alex discovered sea sickness and spent the four-hour trip chumming over the starboard side. Kirsten did the same over the port side, but also found time to reel in a sizeable Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) fish, along with Zhach and Andy. Back at the dock, Captain Rich demonstrated the art of cleaning and fileting fish. The Mahi Mahi promptly appeared on that evening’s Emmanou dinner table, with the rest filling the boat freezer.
Snorkeling on a reef, Zhach and Thach tag-teamed to spear a snapper with a Hawaiian Sling which they fileted and fried up for a very small appetizer shared with Luigi the cat.
Thach became a regular at the nightly Domino sessions down at Sammy’s, even sporting a full head of cornrows to add to his street cred.
Final visitor was Myles who went scuba diving with Thach, wakeboarding with Kirsten, and managed to shut down three clubs (Gusty’s, Daddy D’s and Vic-Hum’s) on his fifth and last night on the Island. In his short time on Briland, Myles became a regular at Vic-Hum’s (run by Humphrey Percentie Jr. – known locally as Hitler because he is not to be messed with) basketball post-midnight one-on-one and three-on-three pick-up games. Bahamians are basketball crazy and count the NBA’s Michael Thompson, Rick Fox and Dexter Cambridge among their own.
Most of all, our memory of Briland is how the locals live up to Briland’s billing as the friendly island.