Thirteen people received their captain’s bars in an installation ceremony at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, above, in Cruz Bay on August 15. The ceremony, held on Nicole Robin observance day, celebrated the history of the maritime industry and the contributions of St. Johnians in that endeavor. Capt. Lloyd Prince pins captain’s bars on Aleek Thomas, below, one of two 200-ton vessel operators installed during the ceremony
CRUZ BAY — A new generation of marine professionals were inducted Friday, August 15 into the VI Captain’s Association. The ceremony conferred licensed marine operator status on twelve men and one woman who have completed a course of study and hands-on training at sea.
On hand for that tribute were pioneering captains serving 35 to 40 years in the wheelhouse of companies like Varlack Ventures, Transportation Services of St. John, Boyson, Inc, Inter-Island Boat Service. Most of the thirteen will work for those companies. Representatives from Love City Car Ferries, Caneel Bay Resort, Caribbean Performance and Global Marine also pinned captains bars on the shoulders of their respective operators.
The VI Department of Health also pinned a captain who, newly licensed and commissioned, will serve that agency. Performing the honor was Liston “Huntie” Sprauve, the namesake for the St. John ambulance boat, is a retired 40-year veteran of the local marine industry. He was also a crewman on the motor vessel Nicole Robin, captured by the Cuban military in 1973.
Sprauve, along with fellow crew mates, James Penn and Loredon Boynes, Jr, received special recognition during the August 15 installment ceremony. Captain Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, granddaughter of Nicole Robin boat captain Loredon Boynes, Sr., told the story of a voyage gone awry.
Late Captain Loredon Boynes Honored
Capt. Boynes Sr. died in 1994. He was named on a list of deceased boat captains honored during the ceremony. A fifth crew member, Roy Sprauve, could not attend because of illness, Boynes-Jackson said.
On July 13, 1973, Boynes and the crew set out from Key West on a delivery run home to St. John, she said. One of the crewmen said the landmarks on the route put them too close to Cuba, Boynes-Jackson said, but the navigator said he had to get closer to view the landmass.
But before they could, Cuban aircraft and patrol boats confronted the Nicole Robin and its crew. Loredon Boynes Sr. and his crew spent 19 days in individual jail cells until the U.S. State Department, with the help of Swiss diplomats, set them free.
“They were finally stripped of all their money, food and left with enough fuel to get to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where they were met by family members who provided them with the means to return to St. John,” Boynes-Jackson said.
Then, along with Captain Malcolm Sprauve, she represented the Coast Guard Auxiliary in officiating the pinning of bars on the shoulders of the incoming captains.
Those being elevated to the status of captain include Greg Allen, Kareem Boynes, Rajhan Burton, Kaleel Cagan, Devon rancis, Deryck Fredericks, Hannah Hedrington, Jarvis Hodge, Margin Jean-Charles, Ceneca Lindo, Dion Otto, Elvis Smith and Aleek Thomas.