Friendship Rose

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Sailing on the Old Time Schooners

Ian Clayton August 2007
© AXSES 2007

The Friendship Rose, Caribbean Sailing Schooner, creeks as she rolls over the waves. She is heavy in the water, framed with solid Bequia white cedar and Guyana green, she is strong and sure. Norway pines, 80 feet tall as fat as two rugby players, brace the 600 yards of sail that power her. She is a working boat, a thoroughbred, the last of of the working wooden Caribbean Sailing schooners.

hoisting sails on the schooner friendship rose

Sailing in the old time way on an old time wooden sailing schooner is hard work. Raising 600 yards of canvass and the upper boom, in a gusting wind, takes skill and muscle. There are no winches and powered gear as in a modern sailing boat. Manpower lifts the sail as winds wrestle the canvas and its rigging.



The sailing crew are agile, dancing with the wind and canvas, hanging on the sheets to lever the sails. It takes 4 men of good size to hoist the main sail of the Classic Caribbean Schooner; 100 feet of wood and sailing power.

    One, two, three, and pull.
    Tighten the grip and take up the slack,
    Ley is falling on his back.
    Tighten the grip and take up the slack.
    Pull the sheet to set him back.
    Tighten the grip and take up the slack,
    hoist that sail before we tack.!.

It is a choreography of trust and power, a dance of daring.

setting of to tobago cays on frienship rose

The captain of the Frienship Rose, old man Lewis, one of 4 that built her, watches the canvas rise and flutter. "Steady as she goes", he seems to say.

A sheet is snagged;
Ley jumps onto the boom and loosens it.

    One, two, three and pull,
    hoist that sail,
    pull that sheet,
    the crew are dancing to the beat,
    with Captain Lewis on his feet…


    "Steady as she goes"

main sails on the schooner

The Classic Caribbean sailing schooner heads off the wind and grips the sea.

    The canvas fills,
    the boom swings,
    the sheets hold.

    ...... Powerful!
600 yards of schooner sails

We sit on the wooden deck, on cushioned benches, in a strong wind, sailing the grenadines, rising and sliding over 5 foot swells. Her massive boom hugs the mast, a simple wishbone footing holding it perfectly in place, held there by nature.

    Wood bearing on wood, creaking.
    Riggings slapping.
    Wind on canvas, whooshing.
    Sea splashing.

    ...... Haunting!.
wooden scchooners creek, where plastic squeel


Destination: Tobago Cays, Grenadines

She rolls on the swell, plowing through the waves as playful as a whale. The Friendship Rose, classic wooden schooner, is one with the sea, a purposed part of it, a memory of bye gone days, of working sailing ships and men. A part of the landscape, she blends with the sea and sky, sometimes silver under a cloud, or shinning like a diamond in the sun.

In the distance Mustique, Canouan, Myreau, Union Island, and the Tobago Cays.

in the distance the tobago cays

Today we are schooner sailing to Tobago Cays. It is a full days sail starting with breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice, pastries, fruit, coffee and tea on board at 7:30. Friendship Rose anchors in the Tobago Cays, Genadines, just before midday. We snorkel, swim and explore some of the 5 uninhabited islands, set amongst the crystal blue Caribbean waters and shallow walk-about reefs. There are turtle and reef fish all around. Lunch is ginger chicken, savory rice and vegetables served on china. We dine with French wine, sitting on the deck in the shade of the Canvas. A few take an after lunch dip and dive off the schooners bow. We schooner sail home to the setting sun with tea and coconut fudge and the warm friendship of the Rose.

an island in the tobago cays

Built by hand: local wood & Bequia men


“40 years” says captain Lewis, “40 years sailing. Took 3 years and 4 men to build her. Built strong she is. Searched Bequia's tallest hills to find the right trees. Still strong she is, after 40 years of work. She was the Bequia - St Vincent ferry, the mail boat, a trading schooner when sail powered boats as they did before diesel".

"She was launched without an Engine”, he explains, “but after we drifted for eight days with no wind on a trip to St Lucia, we added the engine”.

It’s the last of a line. Wooden sail boats are replaced by steel diesel ships for trade and recreational sailors now want power rigging and sleek fiberglass that is far easier to maintain.

“We have to take her out of the water every 2 years and fix her hull” says Captain Lewis. “Many a plank to replace, fiber is the modern way”.


Captain lewis of the friendship rose schooner

A Short History of the Caribbean Sailing Schooner


Modern boats don’t move like the schooner, so named after the verb to scoon, or skip over the water.

She revolutionized marine trading in the early 1700’s. The first record of the boat is traced to Boston in 1714, and thousands were built along the US and Canadian Maritime. It sailed along the American coast and down into the Caribbean and South America. Trading salt fish for rum and sugar. The Schooner, became the standard trading ship of the Caribbean. It was also a perfect Pirates ship, prized for its speed, agility and its ability to maneuver in shallow waters.

at anchor in bequia

“Bequia had the trees and the skill to make boats”, says Captain Lewis. “We were always sea faring people, whalers and fishermen, living on the waters edge. We don’t build big trading schooners now, but there is an active whaling station with much boating still. The Bequia Easter regatta with the double enders, a whaling boat styled after the Iron Duke, is a big even in the grenadines. We are all descendants of the Arawaks, Caribs and sea faring people. The sea is in our blood”.

As we move on to a new age of power boating, the old age of wood and sail lingers, with its distinctive romance: a feel, a sense, a sound and a memory. Sailing the Grenadines, I saw, amongst the smart and modern plastic catamarans, some modern wooden sailboats, looking majestic and proud. There are many who still appreciate the values of the schooner but the days of the 100 foot trading schooner has sadly gone.

Friendship Rose, remains, saved from being sold as a pirate ship, by its new owners Alan and Meg Whitaker, it lets us relive the days of old, skipping on the water with wind, skill and brawn, in harmony with nature.


Sailing | Related items | Contacts | Photos | Caribbean yacting
Http://BookingsBarbados.com | Http://BookingsStLucia.com
Bequia Journal By Ian R Clayton | Comments





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Friendship Rose; Caribbean Sailing Schooner 784 495 0886

+44(870) 123 1880 FAX
Day siling trips from Bequia to the Tobago Cays, Canouan, Mustique and St. Vincent include snorkeling equipment, breakfast, a warm lunch prepared by a chef in the galley on board, tea service, a champagne toast and drinks throughout the day. Cost is $125 for adults, $50 for children.

How to get to Bequia

air: There are no international flights into St Vincent & the Grenadines. Passengers coming from overseas must fly to a neighbouring island, often Barbados or St. Lucia, and then switch to a prop plane.

Part of the adventure is to commute via St. Vincent, stop for lunch at Young Island and get an afternoon ferry for the one hour trip to Bequia.

agents who can help plan your adventure:

Barbados
Caribbean Safari
Tel: (246) 420-7600 (Tina) | Fax: (246) 420-7602

St Lucia.
Kathy Monplaisir
Director
Krm Tours and Travel Ltd
758-458-4021/24 | fax: 7584584022


Ferries: Thr is a good ferry service between St. Vincent the islands of the Grenadines. Schedule information can be found at www.svgtourism.com

SVG Air (www.svgair.com)
flies from Barbados to Bequia (a 55-minute flight).

LIAT, Airlines of Carriacou, Mustique Airways and Air Martinique
fly between St Vincent and Trinidad, St Lucia, Martinique and Grenada. SVG Air flies from St. Vincent to Bequia and Mustique.

By Yacht
Private yachts may clear customs in Bequia and Mustique as well as St. Vincent and St. Lucia. Their is No better way to begin your Caribbean Siling Holiday that with a private yatch charter
Yacht may be charter in many of the islands.

Where to stay in Bequia






SVG Air (www.svgair.com)
flies from Barbados to Bequia (a 55-minute flight).

LIAT, Airlines of Carriacou, Mustique Airways and Air Martinique
fly between St Vincent and Trinidad, St Lucia, Martinique and Grenada. SVG Air flies from St. Vincent to Bequia and Mustique.

By Yacht
Private yachts may clear customs in Bequia and Mustique as well as St. Vincent and St. Lucia.
Yacht may be charter in many of the islands.



See Bequia Journal

About Ian R Clayton

CEO of AXSES Author:
How to Build Your Business onLine- The Book
http://howtoBuildYourBusinessOnlineBook.com.

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Sailing | Related items | Contacts | Photos | Caribbean yacting
Http://BookingsBarbados.com | Http://BookingsStLucia.com
Bequia Journal By Ian R Clayton | Comments