Lorraine Callwood walked off the dock in Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke with glass shards stuck in the palm of her hand. Moments earlier, she had smashed a bottle of rum — made by her family’s business — over the bow of Endeavour II during a christening ceremony on November 30.
“Being my grandfather’s oldest grandchild, it was really cool to christen the boat that was his idea and that he saw through to the very end,” Callwood said. “It definitely made it more memorable for me.”
The 32ft sloop was built by the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society (JVDPS) and took about ten years to complete.
The project was the idea of Kevin Gray and JVDPS President Feliciano ‘Foxy’ Callwood.
Throughout construction, several youth apprentices helped build Endeavour II, including Deshawn Donovan, Ruby Pickering, Jevon Reid and Flex Leonard.
In all, about 15 young apprentices worked on the boat.
Dwayne Donovan was one of those youths. He was 15 years old when he first started working on Endeavour II. Now 25, he has logged more than 8,000 hours of work on the sloop.
“It started with me young, not barely knowing what the hell I was doing. Now, I could half build a boat on my own,” Donovan said. “Seeing that boat in the water is a plus.”
The wooden sloop was designed to replicate the same type of boat that was once used for fishing and for transporting livestock and people between the Virgin Islands.
However, the sloop does have some modern upgrades including a lead ballast keel and a 55hp Volvo engine. The deck is constructed of silver bali wood from South America and covered in two layers of fiberglass.
During the past year, shipwright Jim Rosenberry was brought onboard to finish the boat. His work includes the mast, the boom, the tiller, the cockpit and cabin.
“This is a traditional Tortola sloop — there hasn’t been one built here in quite a few years,” Rosenberry said. “It has been a good project to work on.”
During his career, the shipwright has been involved in about 30 boat builds, but this was his first sloop. He said the biggest challenge was building it on JVD.
“It is a little hard to get materials here sometimes,” Rosenberry said.
One of the boat’s unique features is the tiller handle, which is made from a twisted Lignum Vitae branch that “Foxy found on the west side of Jost,” according to Rosenberry, who carved a dolphin at the end of it. Island resident and artist Isha Chinnery carved several other sea creatures on the handle as well.
Prior to the ceremony, Rosenberry was congratulated on several occasions as people admired the boat from the dock while taking pictures with their phones or iPads.
“I am extremely happy,” Rosenberry said. “I am glad to see it in the water.”
Despite scattered showers throughout the day, more than 100 people attended the launch, which was held under a white tent on the beach at Great Harbour. Colorful moko jumbies entertained the crowd, while live steel pan music was played. Several people made brief speeches during the ceremony, but Foxy opted to play the guitar and sing two songs instead.
Although the sloop is in the water, there is still more work to be done before the boat can be sailed.
Endeavour II will now have to pass sea trials and complete the shipping registry application, according to JVDPS Director Susan Zaluski.
Once it is fully rigged, the JVDPS will use it for educational programs and it will be available for eco-tours and day sail charters.
“Our goal is to have it up and running by summer,” Zaluski said.
She estimates that the boat cost more than $250,000 to build. “Every one gets sticker shock at that price but people don’t understand how expensive it is to do things in the Virgin Islands. When you have kids working on a boat — students are going to screw things up. And that is okay, because that is how you learn. The reality is that it adds time, but at the end of the day when the boat is created you can’t take away that value.”
She doesn’t see the JVDPS taking on another boat building project anytime soon.
She added that the downturn in the economy has hampered non-profits around the world, including the JVDPS.
“Non-profits have to be competitive now,” Zaluski said. “People want services; people want to see something for their donation. We will offer day sails to the public.”
The money earned from the sloop will be put back into the free educational programs offered by the JVDPS.
Foxy’s granddaughter Lorraine Callwood hasn’t had much involvement with the building of the boat, but is expected to be an integral in the sloop’s future. She is becoming a dive master and instructor to be able to teach kids about the surrounding marine habitat.
“We as a community have rallied together to put out something positive for our community,” Callwood said.