Barging in and out

It became visible in the distance at about 8 a.m. on the 28th of July. Pulled by a leading tugboat and nudged by another tug, it slowly became more visible as it made its way in the direction of Damien’s Landing (Kalaupapa Pier). By 10:30 a.m. it had nestled against the dock and was ready for unloading. 

Young Brothers Barge had made its annual July crossing to Kalaupapa to deliver to the settlement its 2018 “Christmas” supplies. It had docked about three hours behind schedule but that was OK since many events begin here on Kalaupapa time.

At one moment all was quiet, then almost as though a switch had been flicked on, the action began. The Young Brothers stevedores hopped onto their transport equipment and began to unload vehicles, machinery, non-perishable food and drink. No, I do not believe that Mr. Heineken or Miss Corona were part of this shipment as the local bar has closed at this time. Of course some of these libations may still find their way here eventually. There were household appliances as well as cleaning supplies and diesel for the trucks and other equipment. Then the huge gasoline trucks rolled off the barge to the delight of us residents who had been warned of possible severe rationing after last year’s delivery.

While the resident workers joined in the frenzied action, delivering the cargo to its respective locations, others equipped with clipboards, directed the delivery process and kept order so that there were no crashes. There were several curious spectators on hand. For example, Sister Francis Theresa, here on a week’s visit, took up position inside the church boundary wall and chatted with some of the traffic directors, while Sister Alicia Damien took her post at the base of the Sacred Heart statue, like an undercover F.B.I. agent. For my part I slipped out, armed with a camera, even though someone told me, “No pictures.” Look for me behind bars in the next Kalaupapa Gazette. LOL.

A hearty lunch was served to all on the church steps by Head Chef Tim, giving the workers a little break as well as nourishing chow. Then it was time to reload the barge with outgoing decrepit vehicles, work machinery, recycled bottles, cans, and other items as well as shipping containers full of scrap metal. 

The now-empty gas trucks rolled onto the barge, followed by the transport equipment, driven by the stevedores. By 4:30 p.m. the work was completed, the barge pulled away from the pier, and soon it was sailing into the sunset of the western sky. 

Aloha.

Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.


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