On an overcast Thursday afternoon, the day after Tropical Storm Matthew lashed Barbados, seven fishermen gathered at the Millie Ifill Fish Market in Weston, St James. Four were engrossed in a lively game of dominoes, the other three were sitting on the sidelines observing and chatting with their mates, one working on a net, occasionally taking a glance at the table.
The fishermen’s boats were in safe harbour; some at their owners’ homes, some at the Bridgetown fishing complex, and other at the nearby marina.
One of the men, Everton Hinds, had been tracking the storm since over the weekend when weather officials alerted the public to the approach of the weather system.
“I took my boat out of the sea since Sunday because I had it all worked out. It couldn’t miss Barbados,” he told Barbados TODAY.
His colleagues would follow suit on Monday.
“We usually start to haul out the boats as early as possible. The bigger boats are at Bridgetown at the complex. One of the difficulties is that they will let you come into the marina but the fishermen come in last. All the rich people’s boats go in first then the fishermen’s boats they use to block the entrance.
“Some go to the marina but the majority of the fellas here go to Bridgetown. So it’s either Bridgetown or what could haul up on the beach, we haul up on the beach,” he said.
Once the advisory was issued, a Government tractor pulled the boats in. However, as there is only one of its kind in operation at the moment, the fishermen had to work fast.
“That has to service the east coast first because they are more susceptible to rough seas. So the idea is to get those boats out of the sea as fast as possible. So they gonna work from Martins Bay straight out to Tent Bay… and usually we cannot wait so we on the west coast try our best to facilitate ourselves as much as possible,” Hinds stated.
With the worst over, they spent the day preparing to head out to sea on Friday, before starting their game of dominoes.
“We were expecting some heavy swells [today] but they haven’t materialized so the fellas just getting their gear ready and stuff to push off tomorrow.
“So the boats at the Bridgetown complex will go straight to fishing and the other guys will just clean up their boats,” Hinds said.
The veteran fisherman said he wasn’t surprised at the development of the latest weather system, which became a tropical storm yesterday morning, after forming off the Cabo Verde Islands on Saturday.
He attributed it to climate change.
“The climate is unpredictable. One time we could tell by seasons how the weather would be, how the sea would be but it is no longer like that.
“We call this the hurricane season but sometimes this happens throughout the year now; the winds are stronger, the ocean currents are stronger … sometimes every little strange climate pass the seas get rougher and erodes the beaches and it harms our access to fishing,” he said, adding that despite the changing weather patterns, he still looked forward to going out to sea.
By the time Barbados TODAY left, a new and equally lively domino match had started and another fisherman has joined the group. And their conversation had turned to their upcoming fishing expedition tomorrow.