Jack Griswold
  • Indian Creek Films, 2015
  • Written and directed by Alexis Andrews
  • Produced by Alexis Andrews and Justin Sihera
  • Review by Jack Griswold (BOS/GMP)

We loved this film by Alexis Andrews. It tells the story of Alwyn Enoe, one of the few remaining traditional boat builders in the West Indies, as he builds his last boat in Windward, Carriacou.

Alexis had become enchanted with Carriacou sloops and bought one in Antigua in the 90s. He subsequently sailed her back to Carriacou where she had been built. He did this for several years and became friends with Alwyn. He also commissioned a boat from Alwyn which they named Genesis.

Alwyn Enoe
Alwyn Enoe

In 2012, Alwyn had not received any commissions for new boats for several years. His sons had found other employment to support themselves, away from the boat building craft. In his late 60s, Alwyn decided it was time to retire. Before he did so, however, he wanted to build one last boat for his family and asked Alexis to document the tradition before it was forever lost. “If this thing gone from here, everything gone you know …”, Alwyn explains. The product is this beautifully filmed story which follows Alwyn and his sons over a three-year period as they build Exodus, a traditional Carriacou gaff-rigged sloop.

Exodus in the yard
Exodus frames set up

They haul trees from the forest to make her frame and fashion a mast out of a utility pole. As the boat nears completion, Alwyn is seized with the idea of finishing her in time to compete in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, five weeks away. They complete her just under the wire and launch her in an enthusiastic, traditional ceremony. Alwyn and his sons then set off for two days and nights, sailing her to Antigua to join the regatta.

The film explores the vibrant history of boat building and trading (and smuggling) under sail

Woven throughout the film are stories and commentaries by some wonderful island personalities including boat builders, neighbors, and seamen of all stripes. Don Street even makes an appearance. The film explores the vibrant history of boat building and trading (and smuggling) under sail in the eastern Caribbean, and reaches back to the Scottish settler origins of the art. Besides being an engrossing story of an ancient, vanishing skill and one man’s poignant effort to preserve it, we are given intimate and genuine exposure to this small island community. For now, Alwyn’s legacy continues as his sons do their best to carry on their father’s work and Carriacou’s tradition

View of the bow
The traditional boat under sail

Vanishing Sail is the winner of numerous awards including the Directorial Discovery and Audience Choice awards at the 2015 Rhode Island International Film Festival, the 2016 Grand Jury Prize at the Barcelona International Film Festival, and most recently, the 2017 Donald Gosling Maritime Media Award for Best Television or Film.

One last thing. The film is gorgeous.

One last thing. The film is gorgeous. Shot primarily in Carriacou, the Grenadines, and Antigua, it had us ready to jump on the next plane from wintry Maine. It also inspires one to take part in, or at least attend, the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Whether your interests lie in cruising, racing, boat building, or boat design, Vanishing Sail will not disappoint. The film is available on DVD, with online streaming coming in 2018. Visit www.vanishingsail.com for details.