Jaden Sun ferry’s inaugural landing at Port Little Bay because of rough seas
By Bennette Roach
“Every disappointment is a blessing.” On Wednesday, March 8, 2016, those were the joyful words of many of the passengers some of whom were waiting since late Sunday, March 5, to take the ferry trip over from Antigua to Montserrat.
Beyond the disappointment, the blessing was their participation in the inaugural berth of the Jaden Sun ferry at Port Plymouth following much debate and discussion, beginning no doubt when the Jaden Sun captain declared that he is prepared to get people to Montserrat after rough seas prevented possible landing at its usual berthing at Little Bay port.Rough seas at Port Little Bay meant that the ferry could not dock there forcing alternate arrangements to ensure passengers reach the island by sea. This had prevented further travel since Monday through Tuesday and into early Wednesday, when the access division put its contingency plans in place to facilitate passengers coming to the island.
After waiting for the decision from Montserrat which was expected for a departure at 9.00 o’clock, I was among a total of seventy-seven (77) passengers leaving Antigua at 12.00 noon, who disembarked at Port Plymouth in what appeared to be a near seamless operation. The voyage across on the ferry was near normal and smooth, and eventless in terms of the high seas which were not as high as anticipated from the reports, but obviously high enough inside and closer to land preventing possible or worthwhile berthing to land passengers.
Passengers enjoyed more the extended voyage to the still operable jetty in Plymouth in the exclusion zone which is used under guidance or with clearance of the Disaster Management Coordination Committee, co-chaired by Her Excellency the Governor and the Honourable Premier. The joy was the fact that there were many of the passengers some of whom had never since the crisis began in 1995 had seen Plymouth and as far south as they could see, especially from the vantage point on sea.
The passengers were shuttled to the Salem police station where they were processed by Immigration and Customs. Some of the passengers on three buses, were processed by an immigration officer on board, having only to await the arrival of their bags and processing through Customs.
ZJB News reported going to Plymouth to observe the operation and then to the Salem police station where some of the passengers spoke of their voyage from Antigua among other things. Winston Kafu Cabey was part of the roving ZJB News team.
Posing the question to the well-known artist of varying talents, “Pops I know this was something different but how was the voyage and the whole operation in your opinion coming off down in Plymouth?” he responded. “Well first of all we want to congratulate the captain of the boat, very professional he gave us a real smooth ride down and then he was corporative. Communicating with us and tell us exactly you know what is going to happen and when we docked at Plymouth I think the Customs and the organization who organized the bus and people coming off the thing was quite orderly.
Another passenger described their experience, but had unfavourable comments about the processing on the bus, reason noted. “Oh, it was fine, the voyage was fine the captain was wonderful how he sorted everything out. And then we got here and obviously we’ve been travelling all day we’ve got two little babies five month old twins and they wanted us to sit on the bus while we filled in bits of paper. You know to what is more important little babies being sick or filling in bits of paper for nothing.
Keithroy ‘The Bear’ ‘The Voice’ Morson had this to say, showing his new found political role and his obvious intention to continue from his unsuccessful bid to become a legislator. “Well the whole process was all right in terms of you know making it affordable for us to come in because a lot of people were stranded in Antigua but I’m going to reiterate we shouldn’t be in this position. After twenty years we should not be docking in a danger zone. We should have had a breakwater put in so that we could come out at Little Bay or at Carrs. So yes I appreciate that government has used the initiative and done that and it’s the first time but we need to get out of this mess.”
The ZJB report informed how the ferry was forced to dock at Port Plymouth because of rough seas. But in related news noted that “Mr. Ashley Lindsey took up his position this week.”
The report said, “he was a part of the emergency meeting that took place earlier Wednesday at the Governor’s office to decide on alternate arrangements for the ferry to dock at Port Plymouth. The access division along with other key agencies including the Royal Montserrat Police Service, the Disaster Management Coordination Agency, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Fire and Rescue Service the Ministry of Health among others were very instrumental in ensuring that the operation of Port Plymouth came off successfully.
The one fact that was a disappointment, there were no plans to take persons travelling to Antigua that evening on the ferry.
On Thursday passengers waiting to come over from Antigua were afforded travel by air