Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Gli Gli - traditional Carib boat

[Maryanne]Anchored in Trellis Bay, along with Footprint is a 35' wooden boat called the Gli Gli.

This handmade Carib Indian canoe (a dugout or a pirogue) was built in Dominica (Construction began on the full moon in early December 1995); built by Caribs with knowledge and expertise of the traditional boat building skills. Whenever they can raise enough money, they take the Gli Gli on an extended journey where it acts as an ambassador to and for the Carib peoples; it has proved its seaworthiness several times over. They are currently raising funds for a trip to Belize. In the mean time they take out day trippers and provide a traditional Carib meal as part of the experience.

On one of its many voyages, in 2007 it was moved (see full report) from English Harbour in Antigua to Trellis Bay in the British Virgin Islands, and took almost the same route that Footprint did.

Carib culture and History is really quite buried and ignored across the Caribbean, where most guide books and tourist focus on the beaches, and if there is any exposure to the islands' history at all it is most likely the European and then the Black Slave history. In many islands Carib populations have long ago been driven out or killed off (mostly by European settlers, often in bloody massacres). Gli Gli is keeping just part of that Carib culture alive and in view. Great job. One of the key founders of the Gli Gli project is Aragorn, who owns and runs the Trellis Bay artist studio where a host of other Carib skills are on display, I'd encourage all visitors to take a browse and chat with the artists there. I've been bumping into John Francis on my morning trips ashore. He's Carib - a quiet and kindly man. He seems to have so many skills, including making copper sculptures. He's a musician, a spokesman and activist on Carib issues, AND often aboard and training on the Gli Gli sailing trips. That's a guy who makes a difference in the world. Bravo.

For the most part Gli Gli seems to stay anchored in Trellis Bay, but today it went out with a good crowd along with a support boat - she looked pretty impressive. That inspired me to share with you all these pictures of this great Carib ambassador. You can read much more about it in the Gli Gli Canoe web site.

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