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Across the Channel

Across the Channel With a Bug and Two Paddles

Most 16-year-olds would scoff at the idea of attending summer school—but not Eben Meyers. The young Tortola sailor instead embarked on a row in a small bug that would take him eight miles across the Sir Francis Drake Channel—from Tortola to Peter Island and back—in order to raise money for an instructor training course in Chichester Harbour, England. And this month, after reaching his goal of $2,000, Eben will enroll in the course that will better prepare him for pursuing a career in sailing.

A comfortable morning in June would soon turn to a blistering mid-day on the open water as Eben launched his tiny dinghy Beachbug from the BVI Watersports Centre in Sea Cows Bay. “Going there was easy,” Eben said of the four-hour trek. “Going back was tough; the wind picked up and changed directions, and I was hoping the waves would help, but they didn’t. They pushed me off course.”


As Eben struggled to stay on course with Sea Cows Bay, he said he had the sinking feeling that he wasn’t making any progress.

“Halfway there, Tortola looked like it was getting smaller—like I wasn’t gaining any distance,” he said of his frustrations. “It got hot; the heat and pain really hit me toward the end.”

But he persevered, and made the previously undocumented journey in four hours and ten minutes.

To prepare for the row, Eben said he worked out his upper body, and walked instead of hitching a ride to work. The fundraising effort was worth it, he said, and he didn’t struggle to raise money from friends, family and some connections at the Rotary Club.


Eben has spent much of his life on the water. His father, Elvet Meyers, previously sailed as a BVI Olympian, and his sister, Elsa, is currently the only BVIslander to hold the Royal Yachting Association Dinghy Instructor’s qualification. And now Eben, a versed sailor since the age of 8, is taking admirable strides to follow in their footsteps.


The young sailor has spent three years as an assistant instructor at the BVI Watersports Centre—experience, he said, that has guided his decision to pursue the next levels of training necessary to become a certified solo instructor. The Watersports Centre is unique as it is the only establishment outside Europe recognized to teach the world-renowned Royal Yachting Association training schemes to children and adults. The centre’s director, Alison Knights Bramble, followed Eben during his row in a powerboat for support. She recently commented on the design of the bugs, and Eben’s feat.

“Laser Bugs are ideally sailed by juniors, but they also come with oars,” she said. “We assume the designer was thinking of a still day and a short trip back to the shore—not an eight-mile pull to Peter Island and back, crossing open water.”

Eben’s passion for sailing has also been combined with his newfound interest in photography. He prefers to combine the two with sailing photography that he now features on his website, www.ebenmeyers.com. While in the UK, Eben said he hopes to harness both interests into what one day could become a professional career.

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