Linton Rigg Biography

‘Sixty Years of Sport’, Sailing from the Age of Gatsby to the Grenadine Islands’ by Art Ross.

I have just received the exciting news that a biography on the life of Linton Rigg, written by Art Ross is to be published in the next few weeks. Wonderful news and congratulations, Art, on a job well done.

Below is part of the email Art sent me yesterday which I would like to share with you all.

Today the proof of ‘Sixty Years of Sport’, sailing from the age of Gatsby to the Grenadine Islands’ arrived. I am very excited, I started with a plan about the way I hoped it would look, there are about 100 photos and illustrations, and it came out great. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Alexis’ book quality, this is a small 8.5×8.5″ black and white inexpensive production, suggested retail will be about $15US.

 

‘Last week I heard from the Carriacou museum, Canute Calliste’s family, and they want to carry it, which pleases me allot. Id like all the island stores to have it if I can find someone to sell it to them for me.  It will be about a month until distribution as my publisher left today for holiday for 3 weeks. Noprob mon, all good.’

LINTON-RIGG-COVER

Linton Rigg Biography by Art Ross

 

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Camp Carriacou

                        

Camp Carriacou.

A number of former students who attended Camp Carriacou in the 1970s have been writing in with comments. Rick Welsford has just sent the following comment along with the photos I have attached to this post. I hope the photos bring back a few memories for some of you. Rick said,

‘Here are three pictures provided by our best friend, now and then, Mary Jane Finlayson. Have just returned from visiting Carriacou. The camp property is pretty messy and up for sale. Needs a clean up. I am beginning to investigate who the current owners are with the goal of getting it cleaned up. Any advice anyone? I have one thin  real estate brochure but it is lacking the necessary information. Best wishes. Rick’

Bob Reid has written in with his memories of life in Camp Carriacou in 1973 as Camp doctor.

‘I was a third year medical student at Queens University in Kingston Ontario going into my final year when I applied for the job of “Camp Doctor” that appeared in the Globe and Mail. I was hired immediately but upon reflection Bill Van Reit decided to hire a real doctor and nurse. I was relegated to teaching dive medicine and as an assistant SCUBA instructor. I had previously taken a rather intensive SCUBA training at Royal Military College. Other instructors were Eric Cunningham and Don Cuff. Bill Allison was there that summer. The worst medical issue was a student riding on the right side of the road ( as in Canada but the opposite of what was expected in Carriacou) was hit by a car and broke both legs….. Airlifted to a medical facility on another island. I remember one day when several students were separated from the group on a drift dive and were found well into the ocean ( with great relief in our part). That required to extra swigs of rum and orange juice ( what the dive instructors did after two daily dives and filling tanks for the next day…… Great to remove that salt taste from your mouth). The bacon strips with hair attached, a demonstration of how the local “jack rum” would burn if ignited, crab races and talent shows at the camps were all memorable. The staff became close knit and had a reunion in Toronto about six months after the summer. We shared pictures and had many laughs. I have sent in many of my pictures with several of the staff. There was a tall blonde man and his wife with two young blonde kids there on staff…. But ca’t remember their names. We sailed the two 45 foot catamarans throughout the Exuma keys and dive in Palm Island when there was nothing there but an open field and a few palm trees. I heard that the year after I left one of the catamarans was wrecked on a reef. Hardly surprising since neither had a motor to get them out if tight moorings. We used to throw the anchor line and swing in an arc to get up wind enough …. Then pull the anchor and hope we came about in time to repeat this maneuver on the other side. Several close calls. I look forward to seeing some of the pics from others campers and would love to hear from any of the staff from ’73.’ Bob Reid

Below are a set of photos sent in by Bob, plus a couple of mine taken in Feb. 2014.

If there is anyone else who would like to put up some photos just send them to my email address at wilcam1@googlemail.com and I will see that they are are published on this page.

 

 

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Getting There.

Getting There
Day 1
In 1967 – 68 getting to Carriacou from England was a three day journey involving two flights, three stops and a boat journey of 4 to 5 hours. Even today, as all returning Kayaks know, the journey still involves a stop-over in Grenada.
On September 1st 1967 I arrived in London at 06.00am and took a taxi to Victoria. I waited to meet my college friend Iain Henderson who was also en route to take up a teaching post with VSO in the Windward Islands. He arrived around 9.45am and we set off for the airport.
Our flight to Barbados with BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) involved a refuelling stop in Bermuda. The jet we flew in was a Boeing 707 powered by 4 Roll-Royce Conway RCo12 engines (technical buffs take note). We flew over a cloud swept England and I remember being awed by the fact that once over the Atlantic we flew at 33,000 feet at 480mph. The experience was all very new.
We touched down in Bermuda at 2.00pm local time and we were allowed a few moments to wander out of the plane whilst it refuelled. On stepping out to the tarmac I was impressed by the heat at 84oF, the colours and the refreshing breeze. All the men seemed to wear Bermuda shorts with long cotton socks turned respectably over just below the knees. I remember thinking how they reminded me of the photos of my father in his 8th Army outfit in the Libyan Desert in WW2. The difference was these guys rode mopeds whilst dad was on a hefty Triumph Norton dispatch bike.
After 30 minutes we took off again for Barbados. We landed at 6.15pm local time and were met by the Overseas Arm of the Ministry for Overseas Development who escorted us to a hotel in Bridgetown. In our room there was Tony, Iain (Henderson), Chris and myself. Next door was Alastair and Richard. Kathrine, Sue (Dixon), Jean (Arthur) and Ivana (Cook) were in a separate building.
Refreshed by a meal of shrimp salad followed by rum and walnut ice cream we sat in the garden drinking tea. At some point in the evening Alastair suggested a drive around Bridgetown and so we hired a taxi for the evening.
The driver appeared to have a route already planned and it seemed to take in most of the bars of Bridgetown. We found ourselves being driven down Nelson Street and dropped outside Harry’s Bar. The driver informed us we would have to pay an entrance fee at the door. Two fine looking ladies lightened us of $3.00 each and escorted us up stairs to an empty room. We were then informed the club did not open for another 1 and ½ hours. Seemingly no refund was possible so our driver obliged by taking us to the Blue Moon Bar where we enjoyed a rum and coke and a dance.
Although we were all pretty well done in we decided not to lose our $3.00 worth of entertainment at Harry’s, so back we went. We were again escorted upstairs to the same bare room but this time benches and tables had been set out around the perimeter. Gradually the seats filled up, mostly men, including two US sailors in full uniform and one brave lady. Enter Harry who talked at great length about the great evening we were about to have.
The show itself consisted of a number of gorgeous ladies in various stages of undress. Each performance was interspersed by long tedious monologues delivered by Harry himself and the proffering of more drinks. Finally the show ended around 1.30am and we thankfully made our weary way back to the hotel.
Day 2
I woke up at 6.00am still feeling tired from the previous journey and night time perambulations. The atmosphere was particularly humid. The cicades stopped their chirping and in an instance the rain poured down drenching the foliage and bouncing off the footpaths. After a hearty breakfast we all drove through the rain to the airport and boarded a Viscount twin engined passenger plane.
Our plane took off at 9.25am for the short hour long hop to Grenada. The cloud cleared just in time for us to catch glimpse of Carriacou and a few moments later Grenada appeared below us covered in lush green vegetation with hills rising from the sea. We lost altitude and caught sight of Pearls Airport; one strip of runway running at right angles from the coast. The far end of the runway seemed to almost disappear into the forest and it appeared hemmed in by densely wooded hills.
We circled once then landed with a couple of bumps and a scream of air brakes. After dragging our weary selves through customs we stood outside the small arrivals area waiting to be picked up.
Gradually each of my new friends departed and I found myself standing alone. A group of taxi drivers descended like locusts, each offering special rates for the journey into St Georges. I was just about to take one of the taxis when Sue and Jean returned in their car. They had realised I’d been ‘abandoned’ and returned to pick me up. Sue remarked what a nuisance I was and how she was dying for the loo. On such a basis lasting friendships are made.
Our driver dropped me off at the Archdeacon’s house. I was greeted by Eric the head servant and shown into the lounge. I got the feeling I wasn’t altogether expected but the Archdeacon went out of his way to make me feel at home. I was treated to a room with a balcony overlooking the Carinage. I found the scene utterly spectacular looking down, as I did, on the harbour with trading vessels berthed alongside, warehouses and timber yards, red roofed houses and verdant green hills on three sides. As the light faded the scene was transformed into a myriad glo-worms winking and sparkling in the dark. The lights were being reflected in the waters of the harbour. As I finally withdrew to my bed I knew I was going to enjoy my time in Grenada and I still had Carriacou to come.
Day 3
Sunday Sept 3rd was a much clearer, brighter day. I went to communion at 7.00am followed by morning service. After breakfast I was driven to the harbour where I boarded the schooner ‘Miriam B’ for Carriacou. Sue and Jean had kindly made their way down to the dockside to wave goodbye. As we chugged out of the harbour past the Nurses Hostel and under the watchful gaze of Fort Royal I sat and reflected on the delights of my new surroundings.
Miriam B was a traditionally built schooner. It had a cabin, mainsail and jib, an inboard engine and benches round the deck. Most people seemed to prefer sitting atopside with the cabin occupied by domino players. It wasn’t particularly comfortable and the benches dug into your back with each wave. I took the opportunity to wander around the deck talking to passengers such as Mr Daniel and his daughter and taking in the magnificent Grenadian coastline.
Once we had gone beyond Grenada we ran into a squall which made things a bit uncomfortable for around half an hour. We passed Kick em Jenny, an impressive volcano still prone, I believe, to intermittent small eruptions, and on to Carriacou itself.
The water calmed as we turned between Mabouya and L’Esterre and entered Hillsborough Bay. Miriam B drew gently up alongside the wooden jetty at Hillsborough. I was met by Mr R.E. Noel who greeted me and took me to my new temporary home; a small guest house along Front Street about 100 yards from the jetty.
Bill Mott, an Englishman and his Carriacouan wife, Louise met me at the door and showed me my room. My first impression was one of surprise. The only furniture in the room was a bed. Later Bill added a small table to stand under the window and this seemed to make the room much more habitable. What felt more important, however, was the friendly way I was received and the warm family atmosphere that pervaded the house.
I soon discovered that Louise was originally from L’Esterre and had trained as a nurse in England. She was now Matron at the local hospital in Belair. Bill Mott was a Londoner. He had been a factory worker in England and now reared chickens on a smallholding further down the island. They both ran their little place as a guest House. As well as us three there also resided little Billy Mott aged 2 years and Bill Clack, a Canadian Geology student over doing research for his PHd from McGill University. The following week we were joined by George and Cathy Touchton from USA. They had been appointed as teachers to Bishops College by the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
For my first proper Caribbean meal Louise had cooked spiced pork and breadfruit which I enjoyed immensely. It was later that Louise introduced a local delicacy, fish head broth with dumplings. I ate that dish with great relish and once I had learned how to suck the eyes I knew I had finally arrived.

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My Old Friend George Linton Touchton 1943-2012

My Old Friend George Linton Touchton 1943-2012

A Tribute to a Good Old Boy

After 44 years I finally made contact again with George and his first wife Cathy just a few short weeks ago. I was thrilled and delighted to be able to talk to Cathy again and to learn a little about their lives since we departed from Carriacou in the 1960s. I was looking forward to hearing more from them and to learn something about George’s environmental zero emissions heating project (see www.zerechp.com) which seemed to be coming to fruition.  Imagine my shock then when I was told on Wednesday that George died last Thursday.

This sad news was compounded by the fact that George died from a brain haemorrhage as a result of a suspected fall. The improbable irony lay in the fact that George’s ten year project to provide an alternative energy heating source had almost reached its final stages of development. A care for the environment had been a theme close to George’s heart even when we were volunteer teachers at Bishop’s College.

We arrived in Carriacou early in September 1967. At first we were accommodated in Mr & Mrs Mott’s Guest House next to the old Bishop’s College building in the centre of town. After a few weeks George and Cathy found a house to rent just south of the town and they kindly invited me to take a room with them. I duly did just that and we housed together for the rest of the year.

I quickly came to realise that George was a highly intelligent, caring person with a sardonic, sharp, dry wit. He had an ability to see to the heart of a problem and to work out resolutions. He was also a fighter, a seeker of the truth and a fully fledged eco-warrior. He even made an outstanding attempt to learn how to play cricket, though I do believe it may have been the one thing that totally baffled him.

George had degrees in Physics and had spent some time working on a time reversal project back in the States. This had been wound up and George found himself in headlong conflict with the US Draft Board over the war in Vietnam. George was dead set against the war and had collated a wealth of material to fight his case which he did with amazing insight and vigour. He talked to me at length about his reasons for opposing the war and opened my eyes to the causes of that conflict and the reasons why it should cease. I recall the worrying times when call-up was a real possibility and his determination to fight his corner.

Both George and Cathy were actively involved with Civil Rights and had marched with Martin Luther King. Goot, (BCs Principal) often remarked how commendable their stance was given the general attitude to Civil Rights in George’s South Georgia home at that time. George not only spoke up for Civil Rights put his head well above the parapet and shouted out his beliefs for all to hear. I remember feeling nothing but respect and admiration for his honesty and sheer guts. In his attitude to Civil Rights and the war George was ahead of his time.

George had a healthy disrespect for British imperialism. He gently chided me over the shrinking British Empire. And he did it to music, replacing the words ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves’ with ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the Thames’. He would laugh heartily as he sang it, and invariably pushed up his glasses with a resolute forefinger as he did so. I found it hard to disagree.

George was not very comfortable in or on water but around Christmas time we decided to pool our resources and buy a sailing boat. We had no idea where or how. Paddy (Roberts), a colleague at BC came to our aid. He knew of a sailing boat for sale in Petite Martinique. We sailed over to PM and in one afternoon bought ‘Archie A’. A quart of ‘Jack’ was used to bless the purchase and we sailed her over to Windward.

The following day we ‘goosewinged’ dramatically around Gun Point and proceeded down to Hillsborough. It was a hairy ride and I felt very apprehensive. We put our faith in Paddy. My biding memory is George sitting, grim faced amidships, grasping the gunwales with white knuckles. Every so often he would quickly remove a hand and push up his glasses but he never expressed a single word of concern. We had wonderful times sailing Archie to Sandy island for day’s out and midnight fishing expeditions and barbecues. We would sail back in the early hours under a brilliant moon with white phosphorescence lighting our way home.

George’s discomfort on the sea could have been attributed to the fact that his distance vision wasn’t too good without his glasses though he never let on. It only became obvious one day when he thought Cathy had been washed out to sea. He was desperately shouting for me to help whilst, at the same time, trying to drag our heavy boat down the beach. I made him stop and put his glasses on. He looked out and realised the cause for his concern was not Cathy; it was in fact a pelican.

During the dry season everybody’s water tanks dried up. Fresh water was limited to drinking and cooking. We had to carry buckets of salt water for the loo. Undeterred George set out to find a solution. He discovered there were government underground water reserves in the hills behind Hillsborough. He then found and hired a truck with a water tank. Before we had time to think George had not only filled our tank but had gone round the neighbours filling up their tanks and water butts as well. He was generous in thought and deed.

Thursday evenings were set aside for dinner of pasta and jello with Father Fitton in the Catholic rectory. After the meal the guys, such as ‘Scraper’ and Leo, would take up their guitars and entertain us with rounds of Calypso. Cathy would play her flute or sing folk melodies accompanying herself on guitar. It was a highlight of the week. Sometimes ‘the guys’ would appear at our house. One evening while sitting round the kitchen table they started a round of impromptu calypso verses. Round and round they went with increasing inventiveness and imagination. I can see George now laughing and applauding their audacity and originality.

1967-68 was a year when we laughed, sang, played, worked and cried together. We accepted our differences and shared our common humanity. Carriacouans welcomed us with open arms and we embraced their friendship. George and Cathy shared their home with me and we felt like a family. I cannot remember a bad word between us, just the fun, the laughter and living on an emotional high absorbing life like the proverbial sponge. George played a big part in my life during that year. So much so I have never forgotten his contribution to my understanding of the world. I just wish I’d hopped on a plane and travelled over to shake his hand and laugh with him one more time.

Bless you George.

 

 

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Beatin’ de Jack.

Beatin’ de ‘Jack’.

I had been on the island for a matter of a few weeks. On Saturday 14th October Linton Rigg was holding a party for Carriacouan dignitaries. This coincided with Mr Alleyne’s birthday and he’d arranged his own celebration at his house in Back Street.

Up to this point I had largely avoided drinking any spirits and had stuck to ‘Carib’ and Heineken. I had been told about the mighty kick of ‘Jack Iron’ and had ‘fired one’ now and again. ‘Jack’ is a contraband rum of around 70 – 90% proof used for blending purposes but smuggled (at that time) into Carriacou where it was drunk neat, chased by a glass of water or Sprite. ‘Remember to breathe out’ was Goot’s advice on downing the fiery spirit.

‘Jack’, as a drink, was surrounded by stories, rumours, myths and legends. It was as if Carriacou and ‘Jack’ were an inseparable, interdependent duo. The rum came in by boat, carried from other islands. It was, as far as I could gather, smuggled in and carried to various rum shops around the island in large 5 gallon bottles called ‘demi-johns’. Rumour had it that when the  police car and motor cycle went screaming  out of town late at night heading for Harvey Vale it was usually an indication that rum was being landed in Windward at the opposite end of the island. Or was this just a case of bad intelligence?

Another story suggested that a regular supply was dropped off for the police as they sojourned elsewhere. It all added to the legend and the mystery of the trade. It was bought in a coke or sprite bottle without labels. At dances different groups had their own coke bottles standing in different corners. Everyone knew their own bottles which would be visited periodically during the evening as groups perambulated round the hall. They would then ‘Fire One’, chat, ‘lime’ and move on. And so it was that this symbiotic relationship translated into some very pleasant, well oiled evenings. The real danger came when the ‘Jack’ bit back and its bite, as I was to find out, could be pretty lethal.

On this occasion Marion had cooked up a feast for Goot’s birthday and we gathered afterwards on the balcony to drink and discuss the ways of the world. And so, tempted by the convivial nature of the company and the excitement of the various discussions I launched into a proper trial with the ‘jack’.  I had been warned that ‘jack’ can be a real adversary not to be tampered with lightly. Youth and ignorance conspired to help me disregard such good advice.

Late in the evening the conversation turned to cricket. Both Goot and Marion were experts on the subject and talk turned to the coming test match between England and the WI. When the England team were touring the WI Goot  always supported them, largely, I suspected, in order to promote debate. On this occasion, as on many others, the discussion became somewhat lively. I gradually found it more and more difficult to make myself heard (or so my fuddled head told me) and in order to make a particular point I climbed on to the balustade of the balcony.

A few seconds later, in an unreal moment, my feet lost contact with mother Earth. I seemed to have been lifted upwards involuntarily and I found myself rotating backwards and descending slowly and silently through the air. I remember the silence and wondering what was happening. As the back of my head hit the ground I saw a shower of stars in front of me, then my legs hit me about the head as they arrived to join the rest of my crumpled body.

I lay there in a heap but eventually managed to stand up and saw the concerned faces of Paddy and Rodge in front of me. ‘I’m ok I think,’ was all I could mutter and after checking me over the two guided me across Back street, past the college and up the steps of Mr and Mrs Mott’s Guest house where I said, ‘Goodnight’. That’s the last I remember until some twelve hours later when I felt the warmth of the Sun coming through my bedroom window and heard the voice of Bill Mott saying, ‘You’re awake. Thank God for that’.

I had no recollection of what had happened. I obviously had had concussion and it transpired I’d been violently sick and stroppy (sorry Bill and Louise). Later that day when I went to look at my landing place I discovered I had come down on a shoulder width patch of sand, between a concrete slab and the steps leading up to the balcony. I baulked at just how lucky I had been. I spent the rest of the day feeling as though I was floating on air. My head and body felt as though they belonged to someone else.

In the aftermath of this incident I found that every time I even saw a bottle of ‘jack’ I had to quickly run to the ‘heads’ to throw up. On coming out Goot would make me down a glass and I would immediately return the contents in full.

This ‘torture’ went on for some days with Goot determined that I would ‘beat de jack’. Finally, one afternoon I downed the ‘devil’ and kept it down.  Goot was delighted and told everyone within earshot that I had ‘beaten de jack’.  I wasn’t so sure but I did treat ‘Jack Iron’ with a lot more respect from that point on.

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