Looking for CARIBEE

A friend sent me the following inquiry. Can anyone help track it down?


A fellow called Terry May asked me to see if I could find out any information on his grandfather’s schooner, named “Caribee”. This is what he wrote:

My grandfather, Ernest Nugent May built a boat to take his family around the world, or part of the world, but WWII got in the way. The boat was delivered we think in the spring of 1938 or 39, maybe 40. After the war broke out my grandfather gave it to the US Coast Guard for sub patrol. At the end of the war it was returned to him. He sold it a couple of years later, as his kids were on to adulthood. The boat was about 90 ft, it was very much like the Pride of Baltimore. I have photos and not much else to go on. I might be able to come up with the builder. Its home port is likely to have been Cape May but just as likely Sandy Hook.

I’ve dug up a little info, but am now stuck. Can you suggest some other (preferably on-line) resources where I might be able to trace her history and find out what happened to her? I’ll be glad to send you what I’ve got if helpful.

Looking for Schooner Caribee

Dear Greg,

for your friend Terry May...

I know a bit about Caribee having sailed her as mate and Capt for Mike Burke's Windjammer fleet in the late 50's and early 60's. She was 92 ft on deck, 98 tons gross and a classic Baltimore Clipper.

She was one of three vessels Howard Chappelle and Wilber Robinson built in their shipyard in Ipswich Mass before the war. The other two vessels are Spirit of Ipswich owned many years by James Cagney and now owned by Los Angeles Maritime Museum and Varuna which Wilbur Robinson took to the Marquesses after the war, Paul Rollins rebuilt, and now lies somewhere in pieces up the Napa river waiting for a savior.

The money for the shipyard came from Robinson's father in law, a manufacterer of brass fixtures. During the war the shipyard was converted to building navy vessels. After the war Varuna was finished and Wilber sailed off with a young lady, not his wife, as cook, leaving his ex wife, her father and Howard behind.

Howard went on to the Smithsonian, and the father destroyed every aspect and evidence of the shipyard...nothing remains of it but a few memories and those two vessels.

I met Caribee in 1960 in Miami. She had been owned by Boudreau in St Lucia who sailed her with passangers along with his other two vessels...Voyager and Ramona. His son is active in building schooners one of which is Pride of Baultimore 2.

Caribee arrived at Miami's Watson Island and I got the job of re rigging her. We added a yard, changed her from a gaf fore to stays'l, and renewed all the standing rigging as well as her jib boom and dolphin striker. I turned in all the splices using 3/4in 7x19 gal plow steel for shrouds all wormed parcelled and served with lower ends turned up and seized. Burke added cabins, she sailed with 26 passangers and a crew of about 10 in 10 day cruises to Nassau and made two trips and spent two winters sailing Tortola to Antigua in ten day trips.

Over Christmas in 1962 a new Capt ran her ashore on Grand Bahama just between Freeport and Lucaya. I was on another schooner off Bimini at the time and left her to my mate and moved onto Caribee to salvage her. That was accomplished in about a week and she was towed back to Miami leaking only a little
but a total mess below.

Burke was quite upset with me as he only carried total loss insurence and tried to help salvage her with as little support as he could. Just at that time, 20th century Fox came along and chartered her for the movie 'Fair Wind in Jamaica' They fixed her up and off she went to Jamaica....and she stayed there.

I have tried to find out what happened to her there but only heard from Boudreau that someone found her name board on the beach there. Seems she just rotted away and finally sunk there at anchor.

I would love to see the pictures you might have and hear of any other parts of this story you might have. I picked up a yacht register for 1939 one day and found your fathers name as owner, which established her date of launching.

best regards,
Chip Angell
The Brooklin Inn
Brooklin Maine

ps...she was a great sailor, very stiff and fast in a flat sea. We felt we could carry four lowers in any breeze and never felt a need to reef.