Ivanna, one of two Olympic-size sailing snipes in Ivanna Eudora Kean’s marine industry fleet, looked as good as new on Tuesday after being sanded, primed and painted for the Marriott’s 2015 Caribbean and Latin American (CALA) General Managers conference at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort.
The boat shined under glossy new paint as it was presented to IEKHS principal Sally Petty and marine industry instructor Stan Lorbach on behalf of the Marriott.
Almost 150 Marriott managers from around the region attended the 2015 CALA conference and participated in the event’s "Spirit to Serve" initiative, which weds community service and company team building exercises. This year’s "Spirit to Serve" involved a partnership with IEKHS to get four boats donated by the St. Thomas Yacht Club to the high school’s marine industry program ready for student use.
IEKHS’s marine industry program, founded seven years ago as a collaboration between the Virgin Islands Department of Education, Marine Action Group, and Paul and Sherrie Davis, teaches students the necessary skills, including sailing, carpentry, engine repair and welding, to prepare them for jobs in marine-related trades, said Lorbach who became the program’s instructor in 2009.
“This educational program has struggled to maintain its equipment since its inception in 2009, and today’s activity demonstrates our commitment to ensure students will have access to seafaring vessels moving forward,” said Joyce Griffin, director of sales at Frenchman’s Reef in a press release about the CALA conference. “We’re thrilled with the opportunity to help expose our younger generation to the maritime world on the island.”
With the newly restored Ivanna snipe serving as a model, Marriott managers turned their sandpaper and power tools on its sister ship, Eudora, as well as two small dinghies, with the assistance of local boat builder Morgan Avery, who said his family has worked in the V.I, marine industry since the 1950s.
"This is all about being together, and whenever we get together we like to do something for the local community," said Lita Aguirre, general manager of a Marriott in Leon, Mexico, as she worked Wednesday afternoon in the conference’s makeshift "boatyard" on the second floor of the Frenchman’s Reef parking lot.
"The wheels are beginning to turn," Lorbach said, who explained that IEKHS’s marine industry program has encountered obstacles, including a lack of funding and liability issues, in the past.
It will cost between $50,000 to $60,000 to fully repair the 36-foot sloop that’s part of the program, according to Lorbach.
"We’re turning down boats that are being offered to us every semester because we don’t have the funds to do anything with them," he said.
Lorbach said he’d like to see the program funded by selling donated boats that the students work on. He said he’d also like to incorporate some training in stainless steel work into the course to teach students skills that can be used on mega yachts, which he said can provide high-paying trade jobs.
While Ivanna is ready for the sea, students will continue to work on completing the restoration work started on the other three boats by the visiting Marriott managers. Lorbach said the Marriott has paid for all the supplies to finish work on the hulls but a couple thousand dollars in additional funds will have to be raised to purchase another mast and boom before the fleet is completely finished.
Sir Chay Blyth, one of the world’s most renowned sailors and the keynote speaker at the Marriott’s conference, did the honors of presenting the boats to IEKHS.
"This is perfect," said Blyth, who was the first person to ever to sail nonstop westwards around the world. "I’m a big fan of seeing kids get out on the water."