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A Private Partnership with the College to Aid the Sloops

Over the past three years, the College has found it more and more difficult to fund the maintenance and repair of our traditional wooden sloops.

Four years ago, our active fleet of sloops was up to an all-time high of five and prospects for the future looked bright.

Today, we only have three that are sea-worthy while two remain hauled out in the boatyard at Nanny Cay in dire need of repairs.

Wooden boats—like any boat—need regular maintenance or they will deteriorate rapidly. Exposure to the sun and the absence of being in the water, make the planks shrink and decay quickly. The longer they remain out, the worse their condition gets.

Our two traditional sloops Sea Moon and Moon Beam have reached the point where their condition is critical. It is with this in mind that I have reached out to the private sector to raise monies for the benefit of our sloops and the Maritime Heritage programme in general.

One of my duties is developing funding possibilities from private groups and individuals, so in the fall of last year (2016), I began discussions with some of the individuals who have assisted me in keeping our programme alive. 

The response to my inquiries was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. A group of us met for the first time in early September and have formed what is called the Virgin Islands Sloop Foundation. We created a board and have been meeting regularly for the past six months.

We have applied for incorporation and by the time this article is published, we should be registered as a non-profit organisation.

The members of the board of the VI Sloop Foundation consist of representatives from the BVI Spring Regatta Committee, the management of Nanny Cay Marina, the Governor’s office, the College, Sister Ship Yacht Management, VP Bank, aLookingGlass, a local shipwright, and a local sloop Captain.

All of these individuals and organisations are no strangers to our local sloops. They’ve been supporters contributing time, money, and talent to help me maintain our sloops and our programme for over 15 years. 

In addition, every one is a veteran sloop sailor, which is a prerequisite for membership on the board. Now our relationship has been formalised, we can operate on a higher plane in an enhanced position since all of our talents are pooled together and structured in an organisation.

Our purpose is:

  • To preserve the maritime heritage of the Virgin Islands by ensuring that the history and knowledge of traditional wooden boat building is passed on to future generations.

Our mission:

  • To provide funding and supervision for the maintenance and restoration of historically significant wooden sloops in the Territory.
  • To organise and develop programmes that teach and enhance boat-building skills as a learning opportunity for the youth of the Virgin Islands.

As we move forward, we’ve already begun several fundraising initiatives in which included is a founding membership card, requiring a one-time fee of 50 dollars. We feel confident that we will receive the funds needed not only to repair our existing sloops, but to enhance our Museum activities and bring the College’s Maritime Heritage programme to a level never before dreamed of.

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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