Building a Virgin Islands Sloop is a hardbound, fully illustrated guide to building a classic Caribbean sloop.
We were extremely humbled to be approached by local lecturer and Maritime history enthusiast, Geoffrey Brooks. His passion for boat building with his longtime mentor, boat builder and Virgin Islander, Watson White, makes a great story that is now accessible to the world. This story takes readers of all ages across the sea and drops them off in Anegada, BVI. It is there they will learn what exactly goes into building a Virgin Island sloop. The book, which was fully illustrated by another Virgin Islander, Lutia Durante, isn’t just a guide to building a boat. It is a window into the way of life for Virgin Islanders and their early maritime history.
The original version of the book is paperback and the design was sidelined due to the high production cost for a small press run. In order to publish the book we envisioned, we looked to the private sector for funding and had the opportunity to work with a community oriented group at VP Bank. We explained to them our vision and what boat building and sailing meant to the past and current generations of the BVI. Mr. Sjoerd Koster shared the vision with us. VP Bank fully funded the print production for the first edition and has since helped fund the restoration another Island boat that had been lost years ago.
Our greatest challenge during the design production was commissioning the art needed for the book. There was simply not enough art out there for us to work with. We reviewed several BVI artists before we finally made our selection to approach our favorite. All of the artwork was commissioned to local British Virgin Islander, Lutia “Tai” Durante and created specifically for the purpose of this publication. Lutia painted around 20 original oil pieces, pro bono to support the education of the future generations of the BVI. We truly believe that he preserved in his oil paint an essential part of the BVIs culture and past. Several of the oil based paintings were inspired by mid-twentieth century black and white photography of the Tortola boats as they were used for transporting livestock and the occasional bottle of rum to and from neighboring islands. A limited number of Lutia’s signed and numbered prints are currently on sale. Other imagery came from technical diagrams on boat rigging as well as hand drawn sketches by our in-house Creative Director, Nick Cunha.
The concept of the design led by Senior Designer, Scott Taylor, focused on the process of boat making with only the use of simple tools, knowledge of local building materials and hard work. Today, the sloops are still a lot of fun to sail but in years past they were originally built for the utility of importing and exporting goods to and from the islands. Scott’s design was tribute to the functionality of the vessel as well as the form of it. For this reason Scott pieced together his design using his tools of the trade, in the same manner a boat builder would.
Congratulations to Geoffrey and Tai!