Southern Boating

Virgin Islands Maritime Museum adds two Priceless Artifacts

Curator Geoffrey Brooks guides school children through the exhibits. Photo: Virgin Islands Maritime Museum

A compass manufactured in 1928 by Boston’s E.S. Ritchie & Son and an oil painting of the 1903 Tortola-built Lady Constance are the latest additions to the Virgin Islands Maritime Museum. The museum, located on the second floor of the Centre for Applied Marine Studies at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in Paraquita Bay, Tortola, B.V.I., first opened its doors in 2005 with a visit from Princess Anne. “The compass is a rare find,” says curator Geoffrey Brooks. “It is made of brass and suspended in a wooden box. It was used by many mariners in East End, Tortola.” The 39-foot cutter rigged sloop Lady Constance belonged to the government and was used as a revenue cutter to intercept smugglers until she sank off St. Thomas in 1921. The museum is dedicated to preserving the rich maritime heritage of this British overseas territory, where traditional wooden sloops were built for over 300 years and used for everything from trading to carrying passengers to the doctor, school and work. Boat models, pieces from the frames of old sloops, antiquated boat-building tools, and old photographs of sloops, shipwrights and boat launchings are displayed in the museum as well as an actual 20-foot old-style fishing boat. Hours are 9AM to 6PM Monday through Friday, with special weekend visits available by request. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Call (284) 494-4994 or (284) 852-7169, or email info@hlscc.edu.vg.

Fly in to fish, sail and cruise
Island-hopping by air just got easier. Seaborne Airlines took flight two decades ago providing seaplane service between the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix, and now offers over 2,600 monthly departures to 18 airports in the Caribbean on a mixed fleet of turboprops and seaplanes from its hub at Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan. This is big news for travelers in the wake of American Eagle closing its San Juan base in 2013 as part of the Chapter 11 restructuring of its parent company, American Airlines. Now, once arriving in San Juan via direct daily flights from the U.S. and Europe, yachtsmen can easily take flights to islands from the Dominican Republic to Martinique, and destinations such as the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Dominica. Seaborne Airlines carries the American Airlines code in select San Juan markets and currently has interline agreements with Jet Blue and Delta, although this will likely expand to additional international carriers in the future. “Whether you’re flying in for a sports fishing tournament, to race in a regatta, charter a yacht to cruise, or just visit the islands, Seaborne Airlines can make travel to your destination easier,” says Seaborne Airlines CEO David Ziemer. seaborneairlines.com

By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating July 2014