- By Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel
Not long ago, sailing was the only way for people, goods and even news to travel between islands like Tortola and the rest of the world, so boats and their builders were prized. Today, traditional wooden sailboats like the Tortola sloop are often relics of history. The film Vanishing Sail¬ The Story of a Caribbean Tradition takes viewers to Carriacou in the Grenadines, where Alwyn Enoe, one master boat builder, struggles to keep the traditional wooden boat building alive.
Screening Wednesday the 22nd at H Lavity Stoutt Community College, Vanishing Sail combines contemporary documentary with archival footage to tell the story of Carriacou's wooden boat building industry. Filmmaker Alexis Andrews traces the boats' 19th Century arrival on the island along with Scottish migrants, shares their dominance as cargo and passenger vessels, their modern decline and now, their renewal by a small but passionate group of traditional wooden boat enthusiasts.
"I really hope that people will be inspired to build more vessels in the Caribbean," Alexis said at a Q&A session at the Annapolis Film Festival, adding that sadly, "The skills of traditional boat building have been lost – really sacrificed – at the altar of tourism."
The film has been received multiple awards since it began being screened in 2015, including a People's Choice award at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival and the Caribbean Spirit Award for Best Overall Feature Film at the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival.
If you go to Wednesday's screening, you'll be helping support traditional wooden boat building here in the BVI. All the proceeds from the event's $5 admission will benefit the VI Sloop Foundation.