Setting off…

My first vessel of any significance was the Brixham Trawler Ketch MAVERICK under Captain Jack Carstarphen. She was engaged as an island windjammer sailing in the British Virgin Islands. The year was 1972, I was 18 and keen to get back the Caribbean islands of my childhood and go to sea in island schooners of I could. In the 1970’s the eastern Caribbean still had schooners trading under sail between the islands. The WARSPITE of Anguilla. The BABY MAC of West End Tortola, and still quite a few simple Tortola sloops bring produce and charcoal to the Charlotte Amalie waterfront of St Thomas.

MAVERICK was built on the lines of a larger (76’) Brixham trawler at J.W. & A. Uphams yard in Brixham England in 1935. She was built as a yacht instead of a fisherman. Thus some subtle and not so subtle differences between this vessel and a fishing version. The subtle point was that between main and mizzen chain plates, and unlike a trawler, she was curved instead of slab sided. The less subtle fact was that she was built of old growth 2” Burma teak and bronze rivets. Imagine doing a fine workboat in teak today? Built as the CACHALOT she sailed the Mediterranean and was conscripted in WWII by the RN – or so I was told. Alleged to have been at Dunkirk, I have yet to find supporting documentation. But her owner, a Colonel Beddington evidently was killed when she was strafed in the English Chanel in that war. Small graving pieces in the teak dog house seem to affirm this tale. After the war she found herself in the growing fleet of grand old classic sailing yachts at English Harbour in the burgeoning crewed charter fleet of that era. WE SAILED FROM BRIXHAM is a book on her early cruising.

Captain Jack Carstarphen from California and a USN veteran who had a day sail ketch in Redhook STT (SHELLBACK which he and his family had sailed from CAL just post WWII), bought her in Antigua for short song, and sailed her too the BVI to become the first windjammer in those islands. Many would follow. I sailed in her for a year, a long tenure for a deckhand it seems and I had the time of my life. We made trip after trip in and among the beautiful Virgin Islands and got to Antigua as well, putting into St Barts several times in pre-discovery days. For fun, and to line the bilge with cases of Mount Gay. I mean many many cases. MG was 87 cents a bottle in STT but only 67 cents a bottle at St Barts. There was always a sweet sheered down-island schooner at the quiet empty dock in sleepy Gustavia doing much the same thing when we were there loading up on ‘smuggling goods’. The Bar SELECT was there then as it is to this day, the home of Jimmy Buffets “Cheese Burgers in Paradise”, still a fine Caribbean establishment despite the onslaught of fame and patronage on that small island.

MAVERICK was a joy to sail as a young deckhand, and a great ‘first ship’ for me, sailing the BVI and Leeward Islands. Under Captain Jack she was also a sweet re-introduction back into island life. I got to work with island shipwrights and sailmakers. And I remember the anchorages all around the British Virgin Islands to this day. She was lost from her mooring in a hurricane in the mid 1990’s I believe. Her teak planking was rock hard and she would have made a very worthy restoration. So it goes.

Cheers, Dan Moreland – master; Barque PICTON CASTLE, and btw, a 145 foot steel version of a Brixham Trawler hull in everyway.