The Christening and Debut of Endeavour II

Geoff Brooks, Curator - Virgin Islands Maritime Museum

Geoff Brooks, Curator - Virgin Islands Maritime Museum

Geoffrey is the curator of the Virgin Islands Maritime Museum. He pioneers and takes part in many of the initiatives related to the traditional art of sloop building.
Geoff Brooks, Curator - Virgin Islands Maritime Museum

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Endeavour II

The Christening of Endeavour II

…and its debut this month!

Photography by Geoffrey Brooks and Todd VanSickle

On Saturday November 30, 2013 between heavy squalls of rain, the sun shone through the clouds over Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, just long enough to witness the christening ceremony of the 32 ft sloop Endeavour II.

After over nine years of construction and fundraising, the perseverance of the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society and a host of volunteer supporters finally paid off with the launching of the traditional styled sloop; a boat which is to become an educational platform for the youth of Jost Van Dyke and a welcome addition to the Virgin Islands’ fleet of traditional wooden sloops.

Susan Zaluski director of the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society chaired the event, which featured Keynote speakers Dr Angel Smith, the director of the newly constituted Virgin Islands Studies Institute at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and Mrs Allison Flax-Archer, director of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) for the BVI, a major sponsor of the sloop.

Endeavour II

Among those breaking a bottle of local rum on the bow to christen Endeavour in a tradition as old as boats that have sailed the seas, was Mrs Luce Hodge-Smith the director of culture for the Ministry of Education and Culture. Supporters and well-wishers came from many neighbouring islands of the BVI, USVI, mainland US and Canada.

The Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society is the brainchild of local musical legend and restaurateur Foxy Callwood, whose goal is to preserve the culture, natural resources of Jost Van Dyke and its surrounding islands. After several years of discussion as to how best to proceed with these motives, the BVI non-profit organisation was registered in 2003 with Foxy serving as board chairman joined by members Tessa Callwood, Beverly Martin and Bruce Donath. Ms Susan Zaluski was hired as director and the society has been actively involved with environmental programs, youth awareness and training ever since.

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Endeavour II

They have partnered with the National Parks to help manage Sandy Cay and Great Tobago, initiated a youth diving program which also monitors the health of local reef life, and in 2008 created the Jost Van Dyke Environmental Profile. This landmark document lists the entire flora, fauna, fish and underwater assets of the area and is used as a way to identify threats to the environment, gauging successes in its preservation. Endeavour II is their latest and most ambitious project.

The vessel is named after a former local Jost Van Dyke sloop which belonged to the Maddox family. It is a traditionally designed Virgin Islands’ sloop complete with the distinctive dead rise called ‘Moon Sheer’, but is built with modern materials and the use of contemporary techniques.

Nine years ago, Foxy presented the idea of building a traditional sloop. The plan was to construct it in a way that would provide training for the youth of the island. The project would both support the Maritime Heritage of the Virgin Islands while simultaneously teaching young people a valuable trade that could provide a livelihood in the future. Local Captain Kevin Gray got on-board and the project was underway. Funding was sourced and a set of plans drawn up in Canada based on local traditional designs. The plans were then lofted onto plywood and patterns for the hull shape were created.

Endeavour II

Endeavour was built completely in the modern way using a method called ‘cold molding’. The hull was constructed upside down and the frames were made with laminated plywood. The hull was covered with thin strips of wood and then covered with fiberglass.

Although a traditional design and a wooden sloop, she is at the same time a modern fiberglass boat – the best of both worlds. The Territory is benefited by locally trained talent that can walk onto any shipyard and work at a highly skilled level.

After the launching and christening, Endeavour II has been fitted out at Nanny Cay Marina and completed her sea trials. She is now ready to take her place with other traditional Virgin Island sloops Moon Beam, Sea Moon, Youth Instructor and Intrepid to participate in local regattas and cultural events.

Endeavour II
Endeavour II

As the coordinator of the Maritime Heritage Program at HLSCC and Curator of the Virgin Islands Maritime Museum, I am delighted to welcome Endeavour II to the fold. She provides amenities that the other sloops don’t possess. She is larger, has a head, a galley, sleeping berths and an engine.

We are hoping that she will provide ‘Mother-ship’ capabilities that will allow us to move and display our sloops throughout the Territory and further, the region. Just having an engine provides a much needed safety factor.

The 2014 regatta season is just getting under way and Endeavour’s debut in the first big race will be this month – The Sweethearts of the Caribbean Regatta, held at Soper’s Hole over Valentine’s Day weekend.

Endeavour II

Other regattas approaching will be the BVI Spring Regatta, which will feature a traditional sloop race, The 40th Annual Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta at the end of May and The Great Festival Sloop Shoot-Out and Heritage Regatta held during August Festival.

We are eagerly looking forward to Endeavour II’s participation, especially at Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta.

For the past several years, there has been an effort by both Government and the private sector to increase the number of traditional sloops in the Territory and to also base them in different locations around the BVI.

This is hoped to increase awareness of our maritime heritage and boost local support for our programs. Endeavour II, through the work of the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, fulfils both of these goals. While being based in Jost Van Dyke, she will be used to carry tourists on day sails, which will provide revenue to support upkeep and a youth diving program which is already in place. She already is a high profile resident of Great Harbour, being the first thing that catches your eye as you approach the anchorage. With her distinctive rig and unique hull shape, she immediately brings forth memories of an older, simpler time. It was a time when these traditional local sloops ruled the waves and carried our local produce, livestock and people throughout the region.

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