Island Windjammer Cruises

The finish line (or is it the starting line?) is in sight.

December is just a few short weeks away (have you started your Christmas shopping? Me neither). In no time at all, Vela will be stretching her canvas for IWJ guests for the very first time.

Months of intensely hard work have passed quickly, with a lot of laughs, the occasional disagreement, steaming hot weather, pouring rain, new faces joining the work team, supplies piling high around the ship, and a constant atmosphere of BUSY!

Vela is now docked at Clarkes Court Boatyard and Marina in St George’s, Grenada. This relatively new shipyard has been wonderful. The staff is professional, friendly, and always accommodating. The facility itself is clean, cheerful, and well equipped.

How many workers does it take to refit a 155’ schooner in one year? A LOT. First of all, on the US side, our admin team (Janine, Shannon, Kathy, Donna, and Nancy) has expanded our reservations system to add Vela, as well as marketed and advertised to fill her, and hired crew to work on her both for the refit and when she sails.

Captain Nervo, who sailed Vela from Long Beach, California all the way to Grenada, with lengthy work stops in both Panama and St Vincent, heads up the on-site team. Captain Nervo has coordinated the entire refit and oversees approximately 30 workers and support staff. He doesn’t just supervise, though—his hands are as dirty as everyone else’s are at the end of the day. Engineer John has installed the new main engine, moved and replaced generators, built water makers and a sewage treatment plant, and carried out many more complex engineering projects. Construction foreman Mike has drawn and revised building plans countless times, researched and purchased the best materials to meet all modern safety specifications, and monitors on-site work progress daily.

Eight workers have been on board Vela for almost a year now: welders Richard, Johnie, and Alberto; handymen Omar, Sergio, and Ermel; carpenter Roberto; and fiberglass specialist Angel. Their dedication to the project has been inspiring.

The cabin construction team (or the Ninjas, as foreman Mike calls them) joined Vela in St Vincent several months ago. Not only are Keith, Laurence, Sam, and Dexter hard workers, but they are extremely good at what they do. They’ve offered a lot of creative input, and added touches that make Vela truly unique and special.

Shore support in Grenada is a particularly demanding role, consisting of running endless errands for the ship, ferrying crew back and forth from the airport, searching for parts and supplies, receiving and tracking monster shipments of construction materials, and making hundreds of phone calls—among many other things. Monja, Neil, and Thomas have done a phenomenal job of this. Also playing important roles in Grenada are Zeke, Craig, and Steve, all skilled carpenters, and Crystal, who helps out with anything from payroll to stenciling life jackets. Cooks Lyndon, Lenny, Dextroy, and Philbert have taken rotations providing three squares daily for the workers.

The question is asked daily, if not more often: “Will Vela be ready on time for her first sail?”. Why, yes…yes, she will. See you on board!


Porthole trim by Roberto and Steve.

Porthole trim by Roberto and Steve.

Custom made cherry door by Zeke.

Custom made cherry door by Zeke.

New bridge by Richard, Johnie, and Alberto (partially completed)

New bridge by Richard, Johnie, and Alberto (partially completed)

  • Dale C. Andrews

    Can’t wait to see her. This is really taking “the next step!”

  • Sandra Landry

    How exciting!! Time flies when good things are happening.

  • Leslie Haak


  • Tom Spellman

    Philbert has returned to the fold, eh?

Island Windjammers


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