SHIPWRIGHT CONCERNED ABOUT DYING TRADE IN ANTIGUATuesday 29th May 2012
Excerpt from Caribarena.com Monday, May 28, 2012 by D. Francis.
Antigua St John's - "Young people today are not knocking up with boat building. They say it’s too much hard work, they want to go in the offices in the cool to work. They’re not even considering boat building as a career.”
That’s the view of veteran boat builder Archibald Myers, but going around the fish market area asking for him by that name may not get you anywhere unless you ask for "Wellin".
There is no doubt he loves what he does, or that he does it with great depth and perfection. He got started not by force, but by will, as it was just what he wanted to do.
Wellin has been building and repairing boats for over 40 years. "Anywhere the job call, I answer," he told Caribarena.com. "Where I am from in Urlings, a lot of fishing boats and fishermen were always around.
"I started after they had a meeting in school, a juvenile meeting with this man I think his name was Biggis Simon from Johnson’s Point, and they asked me what trade I will like to do, and I told them boat building. So when I left school, I used to go by Turners to watch they build the boats and catch on to the ideas.”
He soon started to learn the trade with this veteran boat builder, Vincent Simon.
"To reach to work I used to ride bike from Urlings to town and work for $3 a week," Wellin said. "I really learnt quickly and I stayed with him for 26 years, building boats, putting on cabins, working on the engines, everything you can think of about boats I can do, except electricals.”
He eventually left Simon and went to work with his brother.
Boat building has taken him to boat yards in many places, including Montserrat, Tortola, St Croix, Guadeloupe and St Martin.
"Boat building is really technical," he explained. "You have to really know what you are doing. If any young people are interested to learn the trade, I am willing to assist. I think this is something that the woodwork class in the schools should do more of.”
To the interested youngster, "Come and learn the trade. Teaching these youngsters the art is what going to keep the trade alive. We cannot afford to let this die.”
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