One of the most interesting projects I have seen in a long time is the building of a 32′ Island Sloop on the small island of Jost Van Dyke, BVI, behind Foxy’s Restaurant & Bar. Captain Kevin Gray is heading the venture that will bridge 40 years of boat building on the island. The goal of the undertaking is the designing & construction of an island sloop, thus passing on sailing and boat building to the next generation of islanders as part of their cultural heritage.
JVD fishermen and traders that have first hand knowledge of sloops met with the JVDPS to offer their thoughts and suggestions. Gray tells me, “The sloop will be a full blown off-shore cruising vessel designed to go to sea. We plan to visit all of the Caribbean, representing JVD and the BVI. A preliminary sketch of an island sloop, 30 – 32′, was designed with Ivan Chinnery for sail training, racing, and day sailing to support the project. Vancieto George suggested the rake of the stem to make her sleeker. Baba Hatchett spent years sailing on classics and wants for her to look as fast as everyone hopes she will sail. Orlando Martin did research on the names of all the old sloops. It was decided to name the vessel Endeavour II after the original Endeavour, built in Road Town in 1929 by Hugh Penn and kept in the BVI until the late 1960s.
Abe Coakley suggested building a cradle for safety during the off-season. Claudius Callwood and Mark Morris supported the idea of a new sloop as being beneficial to the island’s future both in terms of the youth and the visitors who are always keen to learn about the cultural heritage of the island.”
$4,000 in materials for hull construction was donated by Dennis MacDonald of Island Marine Outfitters, in Tortola, the largest single supporter from the BVI’s marine industry. The JVDPS is co-ordinating the funding having registered the society in the BVI as a non-profit corporation. Host and JVDPS Chairman Foxy Callwood and Secretary Bruce Donath are seeking support whether in labor, materials or funds.
Funding for www.sloopnews.org was donated by Conch Charters Ltd. Gray is also concerned about the educational aspects and recently chartered the premier Tortola day-sailer, White Squall, for the primary school children of JVD to watch the 31st Annual Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta. “We wanted for the children of JVD to have the experience of sailing on a wooden vessel. To them it was like sailing on a Pirate Vessel. Celly Chinnery runs the Youth Development Program for JVD and coordinated the event. The high school students working on the sloop were big brothers for the day and the children were thrilled.”
Gray is co-ordinating the building of the sloop using modern methods thus teaching today’s skills and tool use yet capturing the old sheer and above-water shape, combined with a slicker bottom for a fast, better handling sloop. This minimizes future maintenance while keeping the classic design. A Naval Architect in Nova Scotia is assisting with drawings being done from the sketches created.
Everything is being built by students with 90% of the work being done over this summer. The ideal goal is to have her ready for the West End Yacht Club’s Sweethearts Regatta to be held in February of 2006. We would then like to race in Antigua’s Classic Regatta as well as the 32nd Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta.” It is hoped that this project will be a role model for other Caribbean islands to follow thus preserving a long West Indian heritage.