We mourn the loss of our friend and shipmate Philip Thomas with a heavy heart. He was taken from us by Cat 5 Hurricane Dorian, which swept through the Mclean's Town Settlement on the East End of Grand Bahama Island with sustained winds of 175 MPH.
The storm also took this lives of his 3 children Tidal, and Remielle, and his stepson Mateo, leaving his wife Barri Thomas widowed and childless. The loss is incomprehensible, as their home and community were also destroyed. Words cannot describe what Barri is going through at this time. We ask that you consider a donation to help Barri and Philip's remaining family members rebuild.
Please read about who Philip was as a person below:
Captain Philip Thomas, nicknamed PJ from Philip Thomas Junior
Philip Grew up in the small East End settlement of Mclean’s town on Grand Bahama Island, where the sea is a way of life. He was raised by a loving family who taught him good moral character, a hard work ethic, and how to be a respectful God-fearing young man. The church was a very important part of Philip’s life.
In his early years, his father Philip Senior taught him how to provide for his family by living off the sea, with running a boat, fishing, and diving. With this skillset he went to work for his father’s bone fishing company as a young guide, while balancing a school work load.
In high school, Phil was well liked and respected by all individuals in his cohort. Despite the fact that he was small in stature, his huge personality and even bigger heart, commanded respect. His classmates remember him as the most orderly student, keeping his uniform immaculate. In fact, it was rumored Phil would use an entire can of spray starch on each uniform shirt! He was a strong student, consistent, athletic, and a kind young man. His hard work earned him an early graduation from high school at the age of 16!
In 2004 Philip packed up to take on the world in New York City attending SUNY Maritime College, majoring in Marine Transportation. He continued to work extremely hard and often mentioned the sacrifice his parents made to get him where he was, and he was not letting them down! He did not disappoint in any department, making the Maritime Basketball Team at 16, while performing exceedingly well in his classes. He was very proud of his accomplishments but stayed humble.
2004-2008 Fort Schuyler (Maritime College) was Philip’s life. He put everything into college, taking 28 credits a semester, and sometimes more. His Professors advised him to “take it easy” and be cautious not to overwork himself, but he never let up. Philip even graduated a semester early! This is a very difficult feat in the Maritime College. The work load is intense as cadets concurrently study their major, and for a USCG license to operate ships as an officer of any tonnage and horsepower.
At the age of 20 years old, Philip graduated Fort Schuyler in the Winter of 2008. He was not legally old enough to drink a Kalik to celebrate his accomplishments! Philip went home to Grand Bahama Island with his Marine Transportation Degree and 3rd Officer Deck License in hand. He was hired by the Freeport Harbour Pilots that Summer as the youngest pilot they’ve ever hired. He met his future wife Barri around the same time. There was no stopping him.
He worked hard as a trainee pilot, observing under veteran seasoned pilots, picking up their life long learned experience quickly. He was an excellent multi tasker and critical thinker which allowed him to be masterful at the con of a vessel. Eventually conning the largest cruise ship in the world into drydock at Grand Bahama Shipyard.
Philip enjoyed his time with the Freeport Harbour Pilots. However, he wanted to start an independent organization which would be recognized internationally. He took huge risk leaving his highly sought-after position, to become a founding member and part owner of the Bahamas Maritime Pilots Association. This bold move empowered The Bahamian People and allowed Bahamian Pilots the freedom to work independently.
Philip had been married by this time to his lovely wife Barri Bethel Thomas, taking on the role of stepfather to his loving Son Mateo. Barri and Philip went on to have 2 children of their own, Tidal and Remielle. He loved them all dearly and put family ahead of everything. He tirelessly worked 2 jobs to provide a comfortable life for wife and children, raising them with the same high standards instilled in him.
As you all know, we lost Philip in Hurricane Dorian on Sept 1st. The Cat 5 powerful winds reaching 180 MPH coupled with an enormous storm surge, swept Philip and his 3 children out to sea. Philip fought to rescue his family, but only succeeded in saving his wife, before heading into the sea after his children. His last action in life was ensuring Barri survived. He will be sorely missed by all.
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