…A tale for sea loving adventurers.
It was a foggy night off the shore of Honduras Island and I had anchored my mini ship to rest from my daylong sail. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see farther than 10 feet afront. It was not one of those favorite voyages of mine as I was all alone by myself – no shipmate, no companion, just a keg of rum and two(2) litres of fine brew (very similar to the one the early Spanish Buccaneers of 1764 often drink). The sail was lonely and quiet but with the high sea songs which I sallied endlessly in my heart, I was able to comfort my spirit, exactly the way one time rugged Captain Ricardo of Italy used to do.
Just while I was beginning to fall asleep, did I hear some strange noise. It seems like the footprints of a human on the other side of the ship. I immediately arose and reached out to my sword. Aside the sword, there was this short locally made pistol which I named “bomboy”, the nickname of my late grandfather, known by the authorities as Sir Rica. He was also a sailor of rugged dignity. It was in the same Spirit I inherited his bomboy.
As I stood up, firm on my feet and battle-ready I saw this tall unclear figure, dressed in black and with black cloak flowing on his back walking towards me.
It keeps coming closer and his flaming black cloak were scratching down his broad chested arms. “Na Who You Be?!” I quivery questioned. At this point my five fingers had tightly held the handle of my sword and my bomboy, echo-tested. I have never seen something like this. My mind had quickly travelled back adays when sailing was everything terrifying. I started imagining myself in a battlefield wrestling with sea miscreants in a way that resembles the battle of late 18th century where about 19 scarlet Buccaneers were said to have marooned 72 laggered Pirates when the ‘contest of the first to sight Tortuga’ was exalted to high heavens. At the end, I was told Buccaneers received the medal as the first official sailors to arrive Tortuga, the renowned Treasure Island of contemporary times.
A sharp scary thought stroke my mind. This man must be one of the sea pirates! At that instance, I have only my GP to pray to. It has always been my shield in times of war, my courage in times of fear and my wine in times of merry. I have great trust in my GP for it has never failed me neither has it ever abandoned me.
“Na mi, na mi. Blessed Assurance to you, young sailor”. These were the words that came out from this fine giant figure in front of me at sword-distance. He is the ABC Captain of the famous Guyana Frigate Ship somewhere in Southern America. He had sailed all the way through Honduras. He was on his way to Panama (Central America) – my destination.
It turned out that it was just a reunion of long known sailors who had not “worn the same eyeglass for moons”, according to the old sailors parlance, but for those first few seconds, it was really terrifying.
The following minutes saw us exchange rumses and shared my fine brew from the same glass. I inquired of all Guyana ships and her shipmen. I have not sailed to Guyana waters since the last time I voyaged over to chop meat with some old sailors in the orders of Scarlet and Rustic. Then, I was just a salt-tasty sailor yet to be beaten by the weathers and storms that made high seamen become Rustic in reasoning.
After the short banter I was already on the know that he was not on a lone sail. Unlike me, he was sailing on a fleet of four(4) pieces of ships. A crier whose duty was to gather weather and danger signal was in a frontline ship which was followed by a ship that housed the scribe who made necessary documentation of their journey; and then the third ship pursed all the resources and treasures they took with them. The Captain of the fleet, himself, boarded the fourth ship and gave orders to the other three(3) ships.
I asked what this well planned voyage was for and he smiled and told me it was for the same purpose as mine. We were both heading to Panama for the same purpose!
The Panama sea is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It got its independence from Spain in 1821 and its spoken language is Spanish. I was attracted to the country on the very first time I heard their motto: “Pro Mundi Beneficio”. Meaning, “For the Benefit of the World”.
It is a common knowledge among sailors that Panama has some of the finest sailors alive and their passion for the sea is something nothing could ever replace. But, whereas, their numbers of seamen keep increasing on a steady sequential flow, Panama has no vessel on board. ‘A story of great sailors without a ship’. This has been the sorry story of Panama.
I am ‘On A Sail To Panama’ to grace the official floating of a ship on board Panama sea. The first ever in that land and I am honored to share in this history. My grandfather, Late Sir Rica (SWGP) once told me of an old rugged man whose Dentition resembled that of an ancient Wizard; how that, sometime ago, he led a squad of seasoned sailors to discover how to steer a Galleon with just a mathematical sign called Lambda instead of a full compass.
It is under the orders of this ancient Wizard Dentition-like old Rustic sailor that Panama were able to start and complete the building of a frigate, like the famous frigate used by the early French Navy of 1583 which they called “fregata”.
For that night, I exchanged several caps with my captain guest even as I wore some of his caps all through the night. At daybreak, he enjoined me to make his fleet and together, we sailed to Panama. Before we could count six(6) human legs, we had arrived Panama Waters to witness the floating of the first ever vessel on board their sea, a feast that drew sailors from Honduras and Nicaragua (both, Central America), Saxon (Germanic coastal raiders) and even unidentified sailors of esteemed profile – all, praying to their respective GPs for Panama Ship to sail and never to submerge.
Published: 30th August, 2019.
By: Mazi Endurance Onun (Lobbish).
Location: Calabar, Cross River State.