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BVI Bulletin – May 05


Holy Cow! You can imagine my surprise upon rising to see the
world’s largest yacht, Mirabella V,
anchored in Sopers Hole, West End, Tortola. This yacht is so large that the
nearby Ticonderoga looked like a
dwarf beside her. In fact, at 100m (338ft) from keel to masthead, she’s twice
as tall as Nelson’s Column and is large enough to park several double-decker
buses inside the hull. She’s taken more than two years to build and has already
had her share of bad luck, which I shall not discuss here, but still is most
impressive to say the least.

Designed by Ron
Holland and built by Joe Vittoria, this is one super sloop. I loved the quote
by Joe when he wanted to build this dynamo, “There are 497 billionaires in the
world and I need just 20 of them.” While most of us still find it difficult to
take in the scale of a 300ft high mast the super sloop, built at VT
Shipbuilding in Woolston, Southampton, is first and foremost a business.

Joe really isn’t
too worried about the relative number of billionaires in the world – as a
safeguard, he told Yachting World that “there are 10,000 people in the world
worth US $500 million” and with just 20 weeks’ charter at $250,000 a week, he
is confident of keeping Mirabella V
busy. Well, I don’t think many of us qualify anywhere near the 10,000 but it
was certainly a thrill to take my dinghy and circle her a few times. I kept
hoping they would invite me aboard but alas – no such luck. Still, it’s nice to
live where the rich and famous enjoy their sailing!!


White Squall is a really engaging film. I have seen it
several times. Actor Tod Johnstone spoke at the Royal BVI Yacht Club on Friday,
March 11th to a packed house concerning the storm and fate of the
famous ship. His remarks were well received and the evening was most
interesting. After questions and answers, Tod was nice enough to have brought
five separate trivia books as a gift to the yacht club’s quiz host, John Cope.
John runs the Quiz Night at the club each Wednesday evening and was delighted
to have a new source of questions – so watch out all of you new and old
competitors – Copie is out for blood!


Arthur Swain arrived in the British Virgin Islands in 1960
immediately following Hurricane Donna, which had greatly damaged these islands
and destroyed our only radio-telephone link to the outside world. At the time,
he had been working in Libya for International Air-Radio Ltd as a radio
engineer, and upon this posting to the BVI, he immediately set about restoring
the government-owned inter-island telecommunications system.

During the past 45
years, Arthur was involved with the development of telecommunications in the
territory that eventually led to Cable & Wireless in 1967. Throughout the
years, Arthur has been an avid amateur radio operator and was one of the
founding members of the BVI Radio League in 1961, which throughout the years has
been instrumental in passing vital information to and from places throughout
the region which have suffered through some of natural disaster or the other,
including hurricanes and volcano eruptions.

In 2002, Arthur
was awarded the BVI Medal of Honour by Governor Frank Savage for his many
contributions over the years to the development of telecommunications in the
territory. Loving the sea, Arthur also had a keen interest in monitoring the
weather and ran an Internet-based weather information station that is still
active on his website, www.amswain.com. He will be sorely missed in the BVI.

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