Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom
Mr. Samuel next to his fishing dory.

Quiet Life After Decades at Sea

Mr. Samuel Eliza Barnett Laurence was born in his grandmother house in Diamond Rock on October 7, 1932. His parents were Petrona Solarzano Laurence, a housekeeper, and Robert Barnett. “He used to blow the clarinet,” remembers his father Mr. Samuel. Robert Barnett was a Jamaican born musician and worked for the banana company in Puerto Castilla. His two older sisters are Mrs. Felipa de Jesus Pandy and Clara Elzame McLaughlin. When his Mr. Samuel was five months old, his father died.

His grandmother Decidelia Solorzano from Olancho raised him until he was seven and at age ten the young Sam would do “machete work,” clearing bush for people and earning two Lempira a day. “No man worked harder than me,” says Mr. Sam. “Money had value those days. Today it has no value.”

There were no schools nearby and getting education was dependent on tutors and family usually using Royal Readers. “I don’t know what a schoolhouse looks like,” says Mr. Samuel, who was taught to read and write by his stepfather, Archibald Hinds, who came from Barbados.

At 24, Mr. Samuel married a friend he met in church, her name was Juliet Francelia Gale. He built an 18 foot by 14 foot “bush house with a porch on it” for his new family and thus his married life had begun. The couple had two girls: Greta, Wilma, and a boy named Buel.

Money had value those days. Today it has no value.

When he was 33 his life took a drastic turn. It was 1967 and he picked up a contract to work on “Red Diamond V” a frozen foods transport ship sailing between Bluefields Bluff, Nicaragua and Brownsville, Texas. The 104 foot long ship was moving lobster and other frozen seafood to markets in the US. Mr. Samuel worked in the engine room and while the work was noisy and tough, he got used to it.

After working for 18 months straight he was able to come home for 18 days before an offer to become the chief engineer on “Red Diamond V” came in. Jobs were hard to come by and Mr. Samuel jumped on the opportunity. He became a permanent member of the crew of six that run the vessel for ten long years.

In 1977 Mr. Samuel moved to Dubai to join Gulf Fleet, a company running boats supplying oil rigs in the Persian Gulf. He was the chief engineer working on 190-foot vessels. It was a big responsibility and Mr. Samuel did that until 1982. “For nine years I didn’t spend a single Christmas at home,” remembers Mr. Samuel. Life of a boat crew was not easy as one had to ask for permission to take time off to visit home for Christmas and special occasions.

Mr. Samuel’s year-long contracts would be interrupted by three month visits to Roatan. Eventually he moved closer to home and began working for Gulf Fleet out of Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico. He switched boats a few more times and took his final gig in 2001- Mr. Sam was 69 years old and after 34 years at sea he was ready to spend full time on his native Roatan.

Now well into his 80s, Mr. Samuel spends much of his time in his home on a Diamond Rock hill just 100 paces from mangroves. The view from his porch of the rolling hills and fields is stunning. He took up planting yucca, camote in his back yard and bought a fishing dory. The 31 foot boat with 100 horsepower diesel motor takes him wherever he wants to go looking for a Wahoo, or a barracuda.