HRH PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK, VISITS THE BVI
(reprinted from Nautical Scene)
By - Nancy Terrell
When HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York and 2nd son of Queen Elizabeth II, visited the British Virgin Islands recently it was in an official capacity as a royal liaison officer between the United Kingdom and it's territories. However, when he visited The Royal BVI Yacht Club, VISAR (Virgin Islands Search and Rescue), and KATS (Kids and the Sea) his interest was in the maritime interests within the BVI. Prince Andrew is also the Commander of the Directorate of Naval Operations for the Royal Navy of the U.K. and as such is interested in all aspects of maritime operations within the territories of the U.K.
The Prince spent almost an entire day during his visit (March10-13) reviewing maritime operations in the BVI, displaying his love for both the sea and children, apparent to all that observed. While visiting the Police Marine Base, staffed by the Royal Marine Police, he also conversed with Tom Gerker, President of the KATS Program, and members of the program. These children eagerly demonstrated their love of the program by showing the prince their knot-tying skills. The organization sponsors a 12-week seamanship course that students take in order to receive KATS certification. Hundreds of students received certification during the 90's, a fact of which sailors and residents of the BVI are especially proud.
VISAR is another organization that earned the prince's total recognition and respect. As the BVI has no coast guard, VISAR answers all calls of distress and disturbances at sea. It is an entirely volunteer effort and Prince Andrew was visibly impressed as he spoke with VISAR President, Rob Lyons, and viewed the launching of the organization's newest vessel. He congratulated Lyons and his staff on a job extremely well done and made us all proud of the fact that such excellence at sea exists in the BVI.
HRH, The Duke of York, also officiated at the official commemoration of The Royal BVI Yacht Club during an informal gathering and luncheon for yacht club members. Members were thrilled to meet the prince, which they did as he chatted and shook hands with those attending. After unveiling a plaque commemorating his visit to the club and congratulating Commodore Peter Haycraft and the board members on their new royal status, HRH was presented with a locally crafted wooden sea chest - designed and made by shipwright Michel Ticot. Prince Andrew thanked the club and included the four young members of the club's Junior Sailing Program who volunteered as waitresses for the event.
At all events that occurred on the island Prince Andrew was relaxed, informal and attentive. "He sincerely seemed to enjoy each place he visited and seemed right at home. Everyone made the same comment wherever he was" reported Haycraft. HRH also gave a check to the National Parks Trust (NPT), who are responsible for many of the territories moorings at the trust's snorkeling and dive sites, for $40,000. This is to help in establishing a youth environmental program. The NPT donation came from a special fund for environmental projects within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, according to BVI Governor Frank Savage. The governor hopes the grant will "help foster young people's appreciation for the environment." While at the Rainbow Children's Home, HRH unveiled a donation of playground equipment. The prince saw the children's delight as they immediately began playing on the swings and slide - all smiles.
The British Virgin Islands have been the recipient of many royal visits, many of which had to do with maritime commemorations. The first of such royal visits began in 1960 when HRH Princess Royal visited the island enjoying the tropical climate and sea.
* HRH Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited the territory in 1966, which incidentally coincided with the 300th anniversary of when English buccaneers drove out the Dutch from Tortola in 1666.
* HRH Princess Margaret visited in 1972 for another momentous occasion - the 300th anniversary of the BVI under British administration.
* In '73, HRH Prince Charles arrived aboard the HMS Fox. The ship was assigned to update the existing charts and survey Road Harbor.
* In 1977, the BVI welcomed back HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during the Queen's Silver Anniversary. The couple arrived on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
* HRH Princess Alexandra visited the islands in 1988 and was so impressed that she returned after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 to see how the territory's residents were coping with the disastrous hurricane.
* In 1993, HRH Prince Philip returned to the islands to unveil a plaque at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, now known throughout the Caribbean for its excellence in Marine Studies. The college owns the oldest Island Sloop in existence, Vigilant (1882) and, in a joint effort, with the Royal BVI Yacht Club, will soon be able to teach the entire syllabus with RYA accreditation and certification.
All in all it appears that the Royal Family is as impressed with the maritime credentials of the BVI as the yachting community is with Prince Andrew's visit. I certainly know that meeting him was the highlight of my week!
Susanne Yardley Mason's Seaviews
by Nancy Terrell - Reprinted from All At Sea. December Issue - 2005
Susanne is an artist who shows great imagination and color in her work. She attributes this to the importance of the sea in her life. “I grew up in Sea Girt, on the New Jersey Coast, swimming almost before walking. The first words I spoke were ‘see boat’! Our family home was an oceanfront Queen Anne Cottage on what was called Quaker Row so the ocean naturally became my first sea view and focus - as did boats of all kinds! My mother used to refer to my twin brother and me as her “sea babies” because no one could keep us out of the water! We loved to ride the small waves at low tide from the sandbar up to the step at the beach.
“My love of art, however, was inherited mainly from my grandfathers - John Mason, was an inventor, painter and a designer in silver for Tiffany & Co. He created the Chrysanthemum Pattern among others and eventually had his own fine arts store in Manhattan. My maternal grandfather, Edmund R. Willets, was the founder of the renowned Willets Belleek Co. in Trenton, N.J. – china known for its transparency. Our homes were filled with paintings, china and silver so I grew up with a great appreciation for art.
“Just before WWII, my parents decided to live, during the winter, in their Manhattan apartment. My brother and I attended Friends Seminary on 16th St. before transferring to George School, a Quaker Boarding School in Pennsylvania. Both had really wonderful art departments, which is where I ‘woke up’, so to speak. Graduating in 1945, I attended the Art Students League in New York – one of the great art centers of the world, which was an enormous eye opener! My first sale was when the League bought a life drawing of mine - quite a thrill! In 1948 I studied with American Impressionist, William von Schlegell, who had a studio in Mamaroneck NY and another, along with his art school, in Ogunquit, Maine. I studied as his student at both studios. Both towns are sailing ports where I sailed as well as in Southport, Connecticut. I always loved being near water and sailing places.
“Much later - in the 70s - I started showing my work at the Betty Parsons’ Gallery on 57th St., as well as in several other galleries. I was included in many museum exhibitions; my work now is in permanent and private collections such as the Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY and the Delaware Art Center Museum in Wilmington. I was also nominated for an award in The American Academy of Arts and Letters 1980 Exhibition - a feather in my cap.”
After a 20-year-marriage, Susanne divorced and bought a converted barn in Amagansett, Long Island, N.Y. She had a separate 1700s Pennsylvania barn dismantled and brought up to her property, situated a mile from the ocean. It was reassembled with her new partner, Ed Morgan, to use as a studio. Her new large abstract paintings sold well.
In 1993, she and Ed settled in the BVI. They bought a Herreshoff 28 sloop, Ruadfor sailing and also designed and built a new home, Villa Carousella overlooking Jost Van Dyke with a lovely view of the Caribbean Sea. Downsizing her art, she began working with fabric collage, reverse paintings on glass, and more recently, computer art. Her images are of sky, water, sailboats and tropical gardens, opening an entirely new market for art lovers ( www.bviescape.com) “The sea has always been, and is to this very day here in the BVI, my point of reference - the biggest and grandest focus and influence in my life and art - besides my children and grandchildren.”
It was a joy for me to visit with Susanne and see her newest endeavors. Our islands are fortunate indeed to feature such talent.