Vanishing Sail: The Last Traditional Caribbean Boatbuilders
We’ve heard the film ‘Vanishing Sail’ pop up on our radar quite a lot this year. Our friends at Boatshed.com have been sponsoring it on tour at nautical screenings. It has been shown all across the UK, and over the pond in the Caribbean as well.
Last week we finally caught up with it in Plymouth, and went to watch it with three salty sailor friends.
About the Film
A film by Alexis Andrews and producer Justin Sihera, Vanishing Sail tells the true story of Alwyn Enoe, one of the last Caribbean boatbuilders. Alwyn lives on Carriacou, part of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies.
Sailing vessels have historically been an important part of Caribbean life and history. Scottish settlers arrived in Carriacou in the 18th century and brought with them boatbuilding skills that have passed down through the generations.
However, times are changing. No longer relying on traditional sailing vessels for transport, trade and smuggling (!), traditional Caribbean boatbuilding is becoming a dying art.
And it really is an art. The sloops, and even large schooners, that have been built in the Caribbean are things of absolute beauty. Built on the beaches with limited access to tools and supplies, boatbuilders show absolute dedication to their vessels.
Alwyn’s Last Sloop
Approaching his 70s and with no more orders coming in, Alwyn decides to build one last sailing sloop with the hope that his sons will continue the trade.
The film follows the story of Alwyn using his family savings to build this last sloop. Of course, everything happens on ‘Island Time’, and we watch Alwyn’s progress and despair over the course of three years.
Intertwined with the building of Alwyn’s sloop, we meet other important figures in the Caribbean traditional boat scene. The film tells inspirational and haunting tales from years gone by of what these vessels mean to the people of the Caribbean.
Suddenly, a deadline appears: Alwyn and his sons aim to be ready for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Five weeks and three hundred miles away, there is a lot to do to get the vessel ready.
Will they make it in time to race against the last of the Traditional Boats in the Caribbean?
The Importance of Storytelling
The screening of ‘Vanishing Sail’ in Plymouth was a fantastic event. The frequent murmurs from the audience told us we were surrounded by folk with the same passions.
It’s so important to tell these stories and keep these traditions alive. Boats run in our blood. The more traditional and wooden, the better. And we have the utmost respect for boatbuilders and shipwrights. That alone would have been enough for us to fall in love with Vanishing Sail and the story of Alwyn Enoe.
But we had another level of connection. This time last year we went out to the Caribbean for the winter. Eleanor flew to Antigua, sailed to the BVIs, spent five weeks cruising the islands, and then sailed down to St. Lucia and Barbados. It was our first experience in the Caribbean, and Vanishing Sail really took us back.
SaltyJobs aims to inspire people to work in the marine industry, whatever their passion. The story of Alwyn’s struggle to keep traditional boatbuilding skills alive, on a small island where these wooden boats were once relied upon for daily life, resonates with exactly what we’re doing.
And if you watch the film, you’ll see that telling these stories is not only important from a historical perspective, but it can really help keep these traditions alive.
Watch the Film – Support the Story
If you have any interest in boats, boatbuilding, tradition, history, stories, or the Caribbean, you must watch Vanishing Sail.
The production is superb, the story-telling is powerful, and the imagery is amazing. Vanishing Sail will open your eyes, grab your heart, and fill you with fresh inspiration.
Falmouth Screening: You can get tickets here to the next screening of Vanishing Sail at its Cornish premiere in Falmouth on the 24th November 2017, before they sell out.
Buy the DVD: Can’t get to Falmouth? Buy the DVD here.
Hold your own Vanishing Sail event: Want to hold your own screening? Order a public & community screening DVD and set up your own event to educate & inspire.