Sally Allen: Good comes out of bad... we hope!

Life in Barbados was tough but wonderful

Life in Barbados was tough but wonderful - Credit: Archant

‘Good comes out of bad’ and ‘there’s never a bad happening’ are two phrases I learnt when I had my boat business in Barbados back in the early 1980s and I think that they are very appropriate now with so many suffering from isolation and mental illness.

Back in the early 1980s, I was newly divorced and decided to take my mother on a three-week holiday to Barbados, a place I had been to a few times before and loved.

Sat on the beach one day, I thought I saw a gap in the market in having fun on the sea.

So instantly - it is always instant with me! - I made the decision that I would move to Barbados and start a boat business. Not a smart decision, as starting a company when you have no experience in doing so, plus in a foreign country, is not really the brightest thing to do.

Nevertheless, I was undaunted – so sold everything I had and bought 30 bumper boats from Vaughan Hatton and a ski boat from a shop in London where I was living and booked my flight.

Barking I hear you cry – some said I was very brave – but barking is closer to reality.

I was about to embark on the steepest learning curve of my life.

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I was a diminutive blonde female on my own – very tricky at best – but exceptionally difficult if you are physically threatened – which of course I was - on a regular basis.

I called my business Octopussy because my boyfriend at the time, Rocky Taylor, was Roger Moore’s stunt man in the Bond films and Octopussy was in production at the time.

I hired a number of guys, Jeffrey, Simon, Henry, twins called Toffee and Sweetie and a mechanic called Wendy! You couldn’t make it up.

Life was tough but wonderful with ten-hour days in the sea, followed by maintaining engines and then island nightlife – but as with everything, there is a dark side too.

We towed the boats up and down the St James coast dropping in at all the beaches along the way, renting out all my boats.

This led to me being threatened with knives at my throat by the ski guys, who quite understandably, didn’t want me taking their business – but, once they knew they could trust me - we became supportive friends.

However, on one occasion I was threatened with a gun.

I was invited onto a large yacht by a very wealthy local family who had hired all my boats.

One of the crowd held a gun to my head, while the others threw all of my engines into the deep sea – and then asked, what I was going to do about it? Clearly not a lot!

I jest, but it was incredibly frightening, so the next day I went to the harbour master and reported them. He told me to get a gun and shoot back!

It was scary times and cost me a fortune in reconditioning all my engines after being retrieved by divers.

I became very depressed, frightened – and suicidal. Thankfully, my natural optimisation, though sorely dented, gave me the strength to turn the situation around and there was light at the end of the tunnel and hope.

These character-building years in the art of survival were to become invaluable to me when I came home to my next adventure, which included dealing with the governing bodies in sport!

So good can come out of bad if you keep a positive view, even when it is incredibly difficult to do so.

Please help anyone you think maybe vulnerable during these difficult days.