Skip to main content

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

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster-EP-2048

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more