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Vintage Voyage: The Return of Brigantine Florette to the Caribbean

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The Grand Return

She’s back! Florette, the 131-foot brigantine launched in 1921 by Italy’s famous Picchiotti Shipyard and one of the last wooden windjammers that still sails actively, will return to the Caribbean this winter. She’ll arrive in Barbados in December and offer one-week and multi-week charters for up to 22 guests in her 11 cabins while sailing between the islands of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Martinique until May 2024. The cost per berth or cabin is less than typical skippered charters where guests hire the whole boat, making this chance to blast into the past an affordable opportunity.

Setting Sail to the Caribbean

Florette has sailed the Caribbean before and was stuck there during COVID but has not been back since. Unlike other charter vessels, she does not go to the Caribbean every winter. The family who owns and lives on the Florette want guests to experience different locations with them, so that is why they are now planning new adventures and destinations for 2024/25,” says Jo Downie, managing director for VentureSail Holidays who works with Florette.

The War-Time Chronicles

Florette boasts a fascinating history. One particularly interesting chapter is her time spent as a Q/guard ship for the Italian Navy during World War II where she took part in the battle of Taranto. In September of 1943, she was stopped by the Germans who ordered her captain to return to the Port of Livorno where she would be loaded with ammunition for transport. Rather than help the enemy, the captain scuttled her the evening before during an air raid. Her masts were still showing in the fall of 1944 when the American military raised and restored her. In 2007, Ron Haynes Jr and his wife Nicole formed Historical Tall Ship Sailing Ltd and conducted a major rebuild. Today, Florette is home for the Haynes family, which includes two daughters they ‘ship school’ onboard, as they sail around the world with charter guests. www.svflorette.com

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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