A Carriacou Comeback

The tiny Caribbean island of Carriacou is enjoying a welcome and raucous revival. On the beach where boatbuilding started over a century ago, the sounds of ringing caulking irons and hatchets “chopping sweet” are once again filling the air.Traditionally, the schooners and sloops of Carriacou were built for inter-island trading. Others worked the sea, setting traps or trolling with hand
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The tiny Caribbean island of Carriacou is enjoying a welcome and raucous revival. On the beach where boatbuilding started over a century ago, the sounds of ringing caulking irons and hatchets “chopping sweet” are once again filling the air.

Traditionally, the schooners and sloops of Carriacou were built for inter-island trading. Others worked the sea, setting traps or trolling with hand lines. The shipwrights were renowned as some of the finest in the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, by the time J. Linton Rigg, founder of the Bahamian Out Island Regatta, moved to the island in the early 1960s, the building of wooden sailing vessels had all but died out. Modern steel mini-ships had eliminated the jobs of the shipwrights. Boatbuilding had been the keel of the economy, and without it, the island was ready to sink.

To set things right, Rigg commissioned shipwright Zepherin McKlaren to build the 40-foot sloop Mermaid of Carriacou. He also organized a workboat regatta, inviting boats from throughout the region. Mermaid became the boat to beat for over a decade, and the Carriacou Regatta inspired a shipwright resurgence.

In 1997, photographer Alexis Andrews undertook the renovation of the decrepit Carriacou sloop Summer Wind, newly salvaged from the bottom of Antigua’s English Harbour. Andrews worked tirelessly until the boat was seaworthy and then set off on a pilgrimage to take her back to the beach where she was built. When he arrived, Andrews discovered that history had repeated itself—the island’s shipwrights were once again withering away.

During that and subsequent visits, Andrews photographed the survivors and undertook, along with master shipwright Alwyn Enoe, the building of a new 40-footer named Genesis, the first sloop completed on the island in over a decade.

Genesis went on to win many honors at Antigua’s Classic Yacht Regatta, in the process inspiring yet another rebirth of island boat construction. At last year’s Classic Race in Antigua there were eight Carriacou vessels. Andrews recently launched a pair of books chronicling his odyssey, Vanishing Ways and Genesis. As for Enoe, he is now busily passing on his skill to yet another generation. – JH

Related

02-'17-Trans-Atlantic_Downwind-Schralpin

At The Helm: Man Overboard!

Imagine this simple scenario: the boat’s powered up, sailing close-hauled in a building breeze under full sail. I come on deck as the skipper during the watch change to make sure the new crew is comfortable and the boat is properly set up for both the current conditions and ...read more

Promo-01-LEAD-MGR00321

Contrasting X-Yachts & Moody Cruisers

One of the most fascinating things about sailboats is the different ways that sailors, naval architects and builders will approach a single design problem. The result has been a bewildering array of rigs and hull forms over the years, and in the case of the two boats we’ll be ...read more

04-Yacht-anchored-in-front-of-one-of-Lastovo's-gunboat-tunnels-(3)

Cruising Charter to Croatia

As is the case with so much of the Mediterranean, to sail in Croatia is to take a journey through time. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks traded amphoras of oil, wine and grain across these waters. During the first millennium, the Romans built lavish palaces and ...read more

m123728_13_01_171012_PMA_02901_9999

Alicante Announced as an Ocean Race Europe Stop

The Ocean Race Europe, a new event in offshore sailing, will include Alicante as one of four stopover cities. This European offshoot of the former Volvo Ocean Race will include the biggest change to the racing rules under the new title—fully crewed IMOCA 60s will join the ...read more

01-LEAD-doublehanded2

Preparing for a Doublehanded Race

A few months ago we took a look at the development and attraction of doublehanded racing (Two to Tango, June/July 2020). Hopefully, that served to whet your appetite. If so, the question becomes: “How do I get started? The good news, as we explained in Part 1, is that if you are ...read more

01-LEAD-Day-three---dolphins.-300-dpi

A Key Approach to Passagemaking

How you approach offshore sailing is key to the success of each passage. In addition, some of the most valuable, even crucial attitudes and skills may not be either learned or valued in everyday life on shore and may even fly in the face of talents that are greatly admired and ...read more

OceanVoyagesInstitute-2048

Point of SAIL: Mary Crowley of the Ocean Voyages Institute

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a not-for-profit based in California that has been both educating sailors and working to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ...read more

01-Ocean-Voyages-Institute_PHOTO-READY_1_pg

Tracking and Catching Plastic Waste

Plastic waste—in the form of everything from plastic soda bottles to abandoned fishing nets—constitutes a major threat to the health of the world’s oceans. Giving the immense size of an ocean, though, actually finding all the plastic floating around out there in a time-efficient ...read more