By Annie Potts
I was very lucky to spend an afternoon with Everette Roberts on Green Turtle Cay in May of 2008 when, thanks to his extended family, we sat together talking of his days at sea servicing the active lightstations of The Bahamas. Mandy and Dale were there that day, and his wife Peggy, and it was a wonderful afternoon spent laughing together, reminiscing with Everette about his long voyages in those earlier times. Somehow, thankfully, I thought to record our words, and at his passing this past week I sat down to listen again to those conversations. How great it was to be reminded of some of the pieces of history of which his life was so full.
I am not old enough to have strong memories of the Colonial days of The Bahamas, but I do feel the kinship of the timeless bond shared by all of us who have spent long hours of time at sea. This connection can transcend nationality and race to link us to each other and to the history of the maritime world in which we have spent so much time. I have found this especially true in The Bahamas where it is just about impossible to be far from open water— literally or figuratively. Genetically and otherwise we all have seawater in our veins which also seems to join our hearts.
In the 1970s, Everette and his brothers and crews were the vital lifeline for 9 lightstations of the Out Islands. Their monthly circuits provided the tools, man power and food supplies necessary to keep the stations functioning, the keepers fed and the lights actively shining. The vessels Everette skippered regularly traveled hundreds of miles to windward, “rolling and tumbling” as Everette called it, usually into strong headwinds and seas to accomplish their work. These runs were done without the benefit of GPS, Loran, or even Radar, something unthinkable to a 21st century mariner. And it must be recognized that without the dependable supply runs of the Goldfinger and the Anna Patricia, the manned lightstations would not have survived much past Independence in the early 1970s.
The importance of the Bahamas lightstations as navigational aids has faded — but their place in the history of the small maritime archipelago of The Bahamas should not be allowed to dim. These lightstations can continue to guide in new and important ways if we focus on their histories and preservation. Thank you Mr.Everette. And thank you, Roberts family, for your part in keeping the lights on. We have so much for which to thank you.
The Roberts family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society. In The Bahamas these cheques can be sent/delivered to Lory Kenyon, Hope Town Abaco — In the US- c/o Annie Potts- 700 Southwest 31st Street, Palm City, FL 34990.