By anguillian December 4, 2017 09:23




The names “Sky King” and “Aubrey Smith” of Island Harbour have become synonymous with search and rescue communications and operations, over the years, in Anguilla – as well as in the neighbouring islands and further afield.

It is to Mr. Smith’s credit that a number of Anguillian

fishermen, and other boatmen, who ran into difficulties, were rescued and brought safely back to shore after ordeals many miles out to sea.

Now, Mr. Smith, who has been highly commended repeatedly for his voluntary and important work, is in dire need of assistance in order that his services to communicate with lost or stranded seamen – and to have them rescued – can quickly be restored.

He, unfortunately, lost his 110-foot radio steel tower when Hurricane Irma tore it down; crashed it on the galvanise roof of his house; and tossed it on the ground (in the opposite direction), leaving it in pieces and his house roof badly damaged – a double calamity!
“The hurricane completely destroyed my tower,” he told The Anguillian. “I had the radio facility as a fantasy for many years, but eventually extended it to provide a greater service knowing that as fishermen were venturing out further at sea they needed better radio coverage. I therefore took it on my own to provide that coverage. I was doing very well up to a distance of 60-70 miles and my service not only covered our fishermen in Anguillian waters, but other fishermen in the neighbouring islands as well.”
Mr. Smith continued: “On one occasion I had knowledge of a lost boat and the Search and Rescue Foundation in St. Martin did not know where it was. I was talking to a friend in St. Martin who told me about the boat, with three people on board, which the Foundation could not find. He gave me its description and I asked Cleve Webster, an Island Harbour fisherman, whether he had seen the boat anywhere during his fishing trips. He said yes and gave me the coordinates. I passed on the position of the boat to those who were searching for it and they conveyed the information to St. Barths from where a search team went and found the boat. I was happy when they wrote in the newspapers about the good information they had received from Sky King. There were other stories relating to Sam Webster, other fishermen and boats which I have not mentioned.”
Smith further said: “Sometimes the Search and Rescue Foundation would call and ask me to take over the positions of boats in difficulties in my area – and we were real partners in this type of rescue work. Now I don’t have any tower or antenna except the other equipment in the house. I feel so disappointed that I am now unable to take care of fishermen out to sea – and to be out there in difficulty is not a joke.

“I would love if anybody can donate a tower to me, or find a way to get one for me to purchase, so I that I can erect it and use it for fishermen experiencing problems at sea. That’s my main mission of having it, and I really feel bad about not having a tower as there is no coverage for them. After the hurricane a gentleman called me from Martinique and asked me how my tower was. I told him it was down and he replied: “Well, we don’t have any coverage then and we need to do something about it. I told him I would love to get some help but I didn’t know from where or from whom.”

According to Mr. Smith, in the past he received assistance from Anguilla in the form of free electricity for his radio operation room which he counted a blessing. ANGLEC also gave him a 60-foot pole for use as a back-up but the ideal requirement is a tower as high as the one he lost -or perhaps even taller.

“Please help me to get one as soon as possible so that I can be of service to fishermen and other boatmen,” he pleaded.

By anguillian December 4, 2017 09:23


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