Anguilla's Road Bay greets visitors with a bold assault of color. White sand reflects through every watery shade of blue and if that doesn't induce a smile, an assortment of brightly painted boats anchored in the bay will. The vessels range in size and style, design and purpose. Many fish while others speed tourists through and around the island's reef-spattered waters. Scattered amongst them are a handful of Rebels, boats that stand out because of curvaceous lines and simple, elegant design.
Rebel Marine, owned and operated by a talented crew of Anguillians, design and build world class yachts right on the hill overlooking Road Bay. Their production facility, a collection of large, open air buildings holds a constantly changing array of boats in all stages of construction. Some will serve as high speed ferries shuttling tourists to and from St. Martin. A few join the day charter business, while others are destined to take their lucky owners on picnics.
At the center of Rebel Marine is David Carty, yacht designer, builder, business man and risk taker. He, like so many Anguillians, comes from a long line of boat builders and seafarers. His great grandfather was Arthur Romney Carty, owner of the legendary schooner, Warspite. But that's not how or why David got started in the business.
In 1980 he was the first Anguillian to be appointed as Director of Tourism, not an easy job considering that the island had hardly been discovered then. He held the position for a year and some months and, when it changed to new hands, he made a move that would alter the course of his life. He decided to sell the first boat he'd ever built, a 16-footer named Rebel. Proceeds from the sale were enough to buy materials, launching him into a career as a boat builder.
As vessels began to roll out, David did more and more research on design. Each launching and test run taught new concepts and different tricks. He is a skilled draftsman and according to his partner and son, Damian, "Dad now does the brainstorming and I tweak it."
Damian, an integral figure in a business that has boomed with success, watched his future take shape while growing up on and around his father's boats. To expand on the expertise of Rebel Marine, he attended university in Ft. Lauderdale, earning an Industrial Design degree. "We work together on new designs," he said. "Dad does a lot of it. He calculates the displacement, which is crucial."
The largest boat they've completed is a 55 foot concept hull similar to one in the bay called Fun Time Express. The Rebel team completes the wood and epoxy hull then turns it over to David's older brother Lenny who runs Techni Sales next door for the finishing touches. They complete the package adding rigging, engine installs and gear.
David and Damian do several international boat shows each year showcasing their genius. They're working on several concepts, and they occasionally collaborate with other talent on sport fishing designs.
Many of their boats have stuck close to home but Rebel Marine yachts can also be found in Puerto Rico, throughout the Caribbean and United States. "One guy came here for a vacation," says Damian. "He went on a charter aboard the Gotcha, and asked where the boat was built. The fella told him it was built up on the hill, so he checked it out and bought a 40 foot sport fisher and named it Crazy Salts."
Most of their customers know what they want and they're more than happy to pay for it. A recent construction project required that the team work around the owners gear. "Sometimes we get fussy customers if they don't know what they want," joked Damian.
As we chatted he pointed out Gilly and Gotcha, two Rebel boats in the bay. "They're the same boat in the hull but very different down below." There were others: Dakota; Whosea; Killy B, and several more from the Gotcha day charter fleet.
It is no surprise that many craft have passed through Damian's life – small ones for local races and a few for simply fishing off the rocks. His current one is the beautiful Rebel Rowser, 30 feet long and fast.
That 16-footer Rebel, the boat that started the whole thing? She came back to the family when Damian located and purchased it as a birthday gift for his Dad.
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Jan Hein and her husband, artist Bruce Smith, divide their time between the Caribbean the Pacific Northwest with a boat and a life at each end. www.brucesmithsart.com