Vanishing Sail: The Story of a Caribbean Tradition

Published on March 23rd, 2016

There is a small group of islands in the Lesser Antilles where the traditions of boatbuilding were once crucial to the survival of local communities skimming a living from the sea. Hundreds of sailing vessels were once launched here, more than anywhere in the West Indies. But today there is no more trading by sail, and these skills have vanished elsewhere in the region.

“If this thing gone from here, everything gone you know…” – Alwyn Enoe, Master Boatbuilder

Alwyn Enoe is one of the last boatbuilders practicing a trade passed down the generations from Scottish settlers that arrived in Carriacou in the 18th century. Approaching his 70s and with no more orders coming in, he decides to build one last sailing sloop with the hope that his sons will continue the trade.

The film – Vanishing Sail – follows Alwyn’s progress and despair over three years – from hauling trees out of the forest to a final traditional launching ceremony on the bayside.

Stories of trading by sail and smuggling contraband told by some of the last old Caribbean sea characters weave through the film like the currents of the Grenadines.

“So the sea is our extension, that is our goldmine.” – Michael Caesar, Former United Nations Ambassador

With the family’s hope and resources now in the wooden vessel, Alwyn tries to complete her in time to race in the Antigua Classic Regatta – five weeks & three hundred miles away – here traditional West Indian and metropolitan elements fuse to create the final resolution of the film.

Screenings begin at the Annapolis Film Festival on April 3: www.vanishingsail.com/#screenings

Here is the movie trailer:

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