All At Sea - The Caribbean's Waterfront Magazine
Nancy Terrell -- February 2008 Issue
Kevin and Becky Rowlette: Life on Lakota a True Work Boat
Share Talk about water rats—both Kevin and Becky Rowlette have been on or around boats all of their lives. Kevin, hailing from Canada, began his 30-year tenure in the British Virgin Islands running Athena, his father’s 86’ wooden charter ketch. From there he also began a racing career that easily spans two decades and more trophies than he has room for.
Becky spent her formative years living on the family yacht, Hoyden, a 48’ custom yawl built by her parents Ian and Sue Paull. Her formative years were spent cruising the UK, Europe, the Med and the Canaries and then racing dinghies and keel boats. Becky visited her sister Emma, Sailing Captain for the Royal BVI Yacht Club, in Tortola, where she met Kevin in 2004; the two were married in 2006 and are now the proud parents of Victoria Susan, a gorgeous and active nine month-old daughter.
The three live on Lakota, a 96’ 50 year-old converted tug/supply workboat named after the U.S. Lakota Indians, one of seven tribes in the Sioux Nation of the northern United States. Lakota is the largest in a fleet of vessels belonging to their company, Husky Salvage & Towing, (www.huskysalvage.com).
I visited with them on Lakota and was amazed at what a complete home she is, as well as an efficient and successful part of the business. Made of steel and housing two Detroit 1271 diesel engines with 1000 hp, she holds some 17,000 gallons of fuel and 12,000 of water. She has a large stateroom, a gorgeous galley and salon, a bathroom with a whirlpool tub, a full hold/playroom which sleeps 4 in comfort with room for 10 more, and a fully outfitted workshop. Lakota is an integral part of the salvage and towing business, providing weight and horsepower for large jobs; she also works as a tug in Road Harbour providing dock assistance for ships.
The history of Lakota is colorful and certainly very interesting to those of us living in the Caribbean. Used as a U.S. oil field boat and for running cargo, she was purchased by the Jackson family of St Thomas who bought her in the Dominican Republic and ran her for many years as a cargo boat throughout the islands. After an interior fire on the upper deck occurred, gutting all of her cabins, one of Kevin’s former workers, Will Edwards, bought her from an insurance company in Tortola and refurbished her for his family, taking her to New York.
Kevin and Becky bought her from Will and brought her back to the Caribbean where she is based out of Sea Cow’s Bay, Tortola. They have further added to the vessel, making it a perfect place for family outings and BBQs on the top deck where there is a hot tub, a palm tree and plants, and a large cookout grill.
Becky takes care of most of the maintenance, changing the oil and the baby, while working alongside Kevin managing jobs. Kevin started salvaging in 1989 and has built a successful business, forming many good relationships with charter and insurance companies throughout the Caribbean. After living in homes separate from his business Kevin agrees that living aboard his work space is ideal. He says, “To be able to go to anywhere in the Caribbean, with space for all of the salvage equipment we need as well as accommodations for our crew, Lakota is a perfect vessel—she offers us a great balance, as both a useful business asset and as a beautiful home.” Having seen the way this operation actually works, I would agree with them—Lakota is an ideal arrangement.