Schooners, sloops of Capt'n Orlando Lake


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23 Aug 2004
A tiny Island, Caribbean
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Schooners, sloops of Capt\'n Orlando Lake

The Ships of Captain Orlando Lake


Ruth Daphne Gillanders nee Lake

The Ismay

The Ismay was built as a sloop. She was purchased by my father Orlando Lake. My father decided that she was not big enough. The Ismay was brought close to shore as possible in peparation to be hauled up by hand on to the beach at Sandy Ground, Anguilla. A long strong rope was passed around the stern and attached to strong points on each side of the hull. Two rows of men then hauled on the ropes with the aid of pulleys and by brute force. Other men placed timber rollers under the keel during the process and the sloop was then dragged on to the beach. Breaks were taken while the pulleys were reset. This was a big event and lots of people turned out to help. My father provided food and drink. The haul-out process took at least a day. Once chocked the Ismay was then cut in half from side to side by hand saws. The bow and stern were pulled apart and a section of roughly twenty feet was spliced in. This included the keel and new ribs and planking. All this work was done without the help of power tools, drawings, computors and the like. Hand tools and a good eye was all that was used - a tribute to my father and the shipwrights. A new mast was also installed.

The Ismay was painted white and then launched as a Schooner. She was beautiful.

The Ismay was hauled out in this manner several times for maintenance.

The Ismay carried labourers to Santo Domingo for the cane cutting season. The deck would be packed with people. My father would sail back up and bring them back.
The Ismay was rammed by a ship on one of her voyages to Santo Domingo. She was nearly cut in two. My father was asleep in one of the doghouses. James Mussington, the bosun, shouted to my father and he managed to get on the side that was not underwater. Fortunately for my father, the ship managed to tow the Ismay to a nearby island where she was repaired. The ramming was quite serious. In those days there was no insurance and there was no radio at least not on the Ismay.

Once coming back from Santo Domingo, the Ismay ran aground on the Tom Dowling shoals in the early hours of the morning. The Ismay was successfully pulled off and refloated.
The Ismay was in competition with the “Warspite” in sailing to and from Santo Domingo. If they were close at the end of the journey they would often race to their anchorage in Sandy Ground. These impromptu races would cause great excitement among the people in Anguilla, especially in Sandy Ground, who had their own favourite. The Ismay usually won. On one occasion, the Warspite was tacking back and forth up to the anchorage. The Ismay was on a long tack and passed close to Sandy Island and continued all the way up until she was almost under the lee of the hills. Many of her supporters, some of whom had placed bets, were worried that the hills would kill her wind. It was a beautiful sight to see the Ismay under full sail. Then the Ismay tacked and in a straight run beat the to mooring. There was a lot of discussion about that tacti for weeks.

The Ismay would also take the family to Dog Island for the day. Dog Island belonged to my father. The Ismay would take supplies to the lady lived on the island and looked after sheep. When she wanted something she would light a large fire in the early evening. This would be seen on the horizon from our house in Sandy Ground. My father would then send a sloop out. I do not know what happened if too ill to light the fire or had run out of matches.

The Ismay would also sail to Trinidad loaded with salt. This salt was picked by hand at Sandy Ground Anguilla. It was a harsh job. The salt was loaded on to wooden flat bottomed boats called “flats” The workers hands and feet would be raw and covered with open sores by the time the salt was picked. It must have been extremely painful.

and other manned Access was by rowing boat from the Ismay. It was too deep to anchor. The row boat then tied on to a nearly vertical ladder fixed to the face of the rock. o
The Ismay was among the first, if not the first, schooner to have an engine installed in Anguilla. For whatever reason, clandestine or otherwise, the engine never ran properly. An engine was installed shortly after into the Warspite with no problems.

My father, Captain Orlando Lake, never touched alcohol. My father was also a lay methodist preacher in Anguilla. He was well known in the region. His word was his bond. On one occasion I recall he had accepted his full load of cargo. A merchant approached him and offered to pay a lot more for for my father to take his cargo instead. My father said no and softened the blow by asking how he would feel if after accepting the merchants cargo he broke his word and took other cargo at a higher price.
After my father died on 30 June 1939, James Mussington the bosun took over as captain. The Ismay continued to trade under my mother’s hand. In 1961 there was a hurricane “Donna” and the Ismay sank at anchor in Sandy Ground. The Ismay was once again hauled out and set on the beach. The Ismay was not insured and was never repaired.
In the seventies the government had a clean up of the beaches and the remains of the Ismay were broken up and burnt.

In the early eighties, my son Douglas retrieved one of the nameplates of the Ismay from the family home on Sandy Ground and stored it at my house in St.Kitts.

The Daphnia

The Daphnia was a sloop bought by my father. The Daphnia did the Sombrero run once a month. The Sombrero run was the route from Anguilla to St. Kitts to Sombrero to Anguilla. The Daphnia carried also carried supplies to the workers on Sombrero.

The Daphnia sank enroute between Anguilla and St. Kitts. All hands were lost, save one. The survivor clung to the mast for three or four days. He was picked up by a ship which took him to St. Maarten or St. Kitts (I’m not sure). His story was very interesting which included circling sharks.

The Yolanda was another sloop bought by my father. The Yolanda also did Sombrero trade runs.

The Yolanda was on a voyage to the Virgin Islands captained by a Mr Newton. In the approach to one of the islands the Yolanda was wrecked on rocks. Whether this was the fault of the captain, who was said to be drunk, or otherwise is not known for certain.

The Carmella

The Carmella was another sloop bought by my father. The Carmella also took part in the Sombrero trade runs.

The Carmella sank and was destroyed in one of the hurricanes. I am not sure but it may have been Hurricane Donna in 1961.


In conclusion, the hurricane in 1961 ended the Lake venture in the inter-island schooner and sloop trade. My mother was not able to cope and the captains together with the crew (to some degree) did not act in her interests as they should have done. This is very sad ending as I am sure that my son Douglas would have enjoyed the business even if he did not have total input into it. In addition I know that my grandson, Christopher, would have also enjoyed it as well.


Well-known member
27 Dec 2004
Marine Surveyor in Barbados
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Re: Schooners, sloops of Capt\'n Orlando Lake

Have you got a copy of 'Clean Sweet Wind' by Douglas Pyle?
He wrote it in the 70's, and it is an island-by-island description of the different types of sailing working craft (including the schooners) still trading in the Caribbean then.
Brilliant book.
If you havent got one, try to get one of the first edition ones from 1981, like in
as these have more photos.

Although the cheaper paper back version here (from 1998) should also be a good read -