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By Renata Goodridge


Boat builder Ivan St. Clair Harvey is a role model for all ages

If you want to talk about boats and boatbuilding in Carlisle Bay, you will hear one name called again and again ­ Harvey. Of course I first heard this name from Andrew Burke, my racing skipper and a next generation boat builder, as Andrew grew up with Harvey building boats all around him on Burke's Beach. Andrew finally introduced Harvey to me several months ago, and I recognized him as the man I could always find down in Carlisle Bay on a weekday morning, either briskly walking the beach with his friend Audrey Burrowes, or soaking in the sea down in front of the CZMU building. In fact, that is where we sat while he told me some of his life story. I knew that this meeting was a great opportunity to learn about the early years of boatbuilding on the island, but was amazed with the enjoyment of living that came pouring out of this man, along with a really great smile. Born Ivan St. Clair Harvey on December 2, 1928 makes Harvey a recent addition to the Bajan octogenarians, as well as an amazing role model for Barbadians of all ages. Once this man began talking to me about his life as a shipwright, I became enchanted. Then I fretted a bit, as I knew I was not writing everything down. In the end, I decided to enjoy the cadence of his voice describing with pride the boats he built and the life he lived along the shores of Carlisle Bay, and write down some of

Harvey on the bow of the Nina

the most memorable bits.

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Foreman Harvey Select Barbados 33


The boatyard crew

Harvey was building pond boats and `dinkies' with his dad Evans Harvey, one of the island's leading boat builders, even before he left school ­ a sure sign that boatbuilding was in his blood and that it would serve Harvey well as a life calling. The senior Harvey had been building boats of all kinds for many years with the Burkes down on the beach in Carlisle Bay. This included working on the Kestrel, built by Vincent Burke and Harvey Sr., one of the best local racing boats on the island at the time. At the age of eighteen (around 1947), Harvey's dad recommended Harvey to the Burkes, and so Harvey proceeded to help build

small boats at Burke's Beach. After boat building all day with Vincent Burke, Harvey would stay on to build the `dinkies' with Owen Burke, leaving around ten or eleven at night. He was happily a part of life at Burke's Beach. Harvey remembers when Andrew was born in 1949, and that it was not long after that Andrew insisted on being a part of the boatbuilding crew. Harvey said it was easier to keep Andrew involved than not, as he was always in the midst of the boats anyway, eager to help out at any stage of a boat's design or building.... it is apparent that some things never change! The year 1959 was a good year at

Burke's Beach, as that is when the Nina was launched. The Nina was a beautiful 13 m wooden boat commissioned by an American man who had the plans for the boat, but no one to build it for him. The luxury wooden motor sailer was the first of its kind to be built on the island, and cost the owner about US$50,000. The boat's hull was constructed of mahogany, with a teak deck and oak frames, all double planked and with not a single nail used in the hull. It took Harvey with a work crew of 11 men about 9 months to build; Harvey claims it was the overseas supplies that took so long to arrive on the

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island which held up the progress (did I mention that some things never change?). She was christened with seawater (something about the champagne bottle not breaking) and then launched o the beach during a low tide, waiting for the high tide to come in and oat her o the bottom.

crew. It seems this man could handle most anything with that giving style and smile of his. The Barbados Boat Company had a solid employee in Harvey, and he was there to build many of the company's best known boats. In April 1963, the BBC built Rainmaker , one of the most

Whilst working at the Boatyard, Harvey would save half of his weekly pay to give to his Mum, and save one cent a week from the remainder in order to buy his own tools (a hammer cost 12 cents back then). But in time, Harvey had his own set of tools, allowing him to work on boats where and when he wanted.

After the success of the Nina down beautiful yachts to come out of the yard. The 12.5 m wooden sailing yacht took eighteen months to build, and was sent by ship to its owner in the U.S., where the nal out tting was done for it to compete in the Bermuda race. The BBC also built boats for the home waters, as many local lighters and schooners were built at the yard, and Harvey was the one in charge of all these constructions. In fact, Prime Minister Errol Barrow, a seaman at heart, commissioned the rst

at Burke's Beach, the idea to start a registered boatyard on the island took shape, and the Barbados Boat Company came into being at the other end of Carlisle Bay, building Vineland type yachts for export. If you ever wondered how and when the present day Boatyard Complex received its name, this is some of its history. As foreman and lead shipwright, Harvey's work crew expanded from eleven to thirty, and he excelled at both boatbuilding and managing his work

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Barbados Police Force launch in 1966 - the 13 m long, 4 m wide Arawak. She was capable of ocean voyages and could provide a maximum speed of 12 knots. In November 1967, the Harbour Police were proud to christen their new launch, the Trident, also built at the Boatyard and sister ship to the Arawak. I believe our present day Coast Guard may have faster boats, but the beauty and durability of these original wooden launches is probably still missed by the old guard and unfortunately not even a memory for the young men now in service patrolling our shores. It makes me wonder what happened to these first ships of the fleet. Harvey was also into tourism early on, in a different sort of way. An American snorkeler/diver came down to the island with his family around 1962, and started one of the first watersports businesses, which included a glass bottom boat. In fact, the Seascape was the first boat of its kind to be built anywhere; Mr. W.H. Tripp of Tripp & Campbell designed the boat, and Harvey and his crew built the 10 m boat at the Barbados Boat Company. Later, Harvey was in charge of the building of the Captain Patch party schooner, giving the Jolly Roger a run for its money and treating island visitors and locals to trips along the west and south coasts. Harvey was such a diligent worker all the years that he built boats. Whilst working at the Boatyard, Harvey would save half of his weekly pay to give to his Mum, and save one cent a week from the remainder in order to buy his own tools (a hammer cost 12 cents back then). But in time, Harvey had his own set of tools, allowing him to work

Harvey with Andrew Burke

Harvey and Audrey Burrowes

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on boats where and when he wanted. The man knew how to save - in fact, Harvey even put into the National Insurance Scheme before it was on the books! Harvey liked the tangible way he could see the results of all his e orts, especially once the boats were launched and dancing on the sea. But as much as Harvey liked, and still likes, to be out among the people, he kept a low pro le early on, as many people thought he was a wealthy man; after all, was he not in the midst of all the lovely boats all the time? Wealthy in knowledge for his trade, that is for sure, but monetarily? Well, it is amazing what good money sense over time can bring you, as by 2003 Harvey had built his own house, with the physical and able help of his volleyball-star daughter Shari (yes, he taught the youngest of his ve daughters to be comfortable with hand tools!) Harvey did comment to me, though, that building a house was like "building a big box, but building a boat takes more care - after all, she has waterlines and curves". This comment reinforced my realization that Harvey's love for boatbuilding was a calling from the soul, creating buoyant expressions of life. As time ran away from us, and Harvey was due to head up the road on his trusty bicycle (his personal choice of transport and a classic), I thanked him for so happily sharing his shipwright's life, such a special part of Barbados' marine history. And imprinted on my brain was Harvey's favorite quote: Never take away talent ­ just improve it. The Rhumb Line is produced in association with the Barbados Sailing Association

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