In his film debut, “Vanishing Sail,” filmmaker Alexis Andrews tells the story of Alwyn Enoe, one of the last boat builders living in the Lesser Antilles islands. Andrews will be on hand Thursday when the documentary is shown at Tacoma’s Grand Cinema.
The tradition of boat building was once crucial to the survival of the people living among the island, making a living from the sea. Hundreds of sailing vessels were once launched here, more than anywhere in the West Indies, according to the filmmaker. But as the tradition of trading by sail has faded, so too have the craftsmen who once built the boats.
As he approached his 70s, Enoe decided he would build one more sailing sloop, hoping his sons would carry on the business of making boats in their village of Windward, Carriacou. Andrews’ film follows Enoe for three years as he hauls selected trees out of the forest to the final traditional launching ceremony, racing during the final five weeks to complete the vessel in time to compete in the Antigua Classic Regatta.
A photographer, Andrews sailed from London to the West Indies in 1985, hoping to become a commercial photographer in the yachting industry. It was there that the idea of a filming a documentary on trading by sail in the West Indies developed. Boosted by crowdfunding, Andrews and his team decided to make a much deeper film, focusing on Enoe.
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“The project represents over 15 years of research and documenting the art form of wooden boatbuilding in the Eastern Caribbean,” Andrews said on the film’s website.
At the Grand, Andrews will talk about his experiences making the film and what has transpired since the film debuted in 2015.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640
Running time: 88 minutes.
Rated: Not rated.
When: 6:45 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma.