LADIES OF THE RING (Anderson, that is)
By - Nancy Terrell
(reprinted from Compass Magazine 2001)
With both high season and the holidays, reunion is in the air. This is the time of year when old friends gather and catch up on what's been happening. While the gossip of the year is heart-warming there is nothing like seeing a once blue water sailor reunite with a lady of the sea. Such was the case recently when that lovely 114 ft., 21 ft. beamed Baltic Ketch, Ring Anderson, was at Frenchman's Cay Shipyard and former guest, BVI artist and sailor Ros Griffiths, was able to revisit her.
Ros reminisces about her sailing life in the Caribbean back in the 1960s where she had worked as a journalist in the first commercial TV station in Canada where Peter Jennings was a young news reporter. After leaving that job and settling in Antigua she opened a restaurant called Ross Roost, a boutique in St. John with Frank Henzel (the owner of Long Island, now an exclusive preserve) and worked on the Island Guide to Antigua.
I then took a job on a Charter Boat, Black Rose, a 55' ketch and chartered out of Grenada for a year and a half. I was also involved in Grenada Yacht Services and built The Patio into a really nice restaurant. Selling my interest, I then vacationed on Ring Anderson, one of the finest chartering vessels in the Caribbean. I was great friends with the Canadian couple who skippered the vessel and used to spend all of my free time partying and sailing with them throughout the southern Caribbean. In those days the entire stern of the boat was open with seating all around. It made for lovely party site and we certainly enjoyed doing a lot of that.
Today Ring Anderson is captained by Doug Meier, an old time friend of mine from the days when he captained the Lena Marie and stopped in Sopers Hole for refits. Doug has been sailing since the age of 12 and has extensive helming skills having commanded both military and private vessels throughout the Caribbean during the past several decades. Our visit was fortuitous as the vessel was leaving for St. Martin the next morning.
Griffiths continued filling me in on some of the history of the vessel. She was launched in 1948 in Svendborg, Denmark, at the yard whose name she came to bear, the Ring Andersen Shipyard. She was actually commissioned as a hard-working cargo vessel, carrying 155-ton loads of lumber and curb stones throughout the Baltic. In 1962, she was sold and took on a new task as one of the first Caribbean charter yachts. This was when Griffiths used to visit. The vessel had been refitted for chartering in the Caribbean in Jutland, Denmark, where her hold was transformed into guest accommodations and a large deckhouse was added to contain the main saloon and galley.
Griffiths reminisces fondly about the grandeur of the vessel. Remember that in those days there were no charter fleets like there are now. We would look out into the Caribbean Sea and view Ring Anderson coming into the harbour. She was so lovely and now I realize how fortunate I was to have her as my second home. Whenever I wasnt working I was visiting on her, sailing the unpolluted, pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea. It was truly paradise in those days "picture post card lovely". And she should know being one of the foremost painters of Caribbean scenes in the Virgin Islands.
Since the era of Griffiths cruising, the Ring Anderson has had another total rebuild. Her rigging was taken down in 1980 and the hull was entirely dismantled. Timber by timber, the old Ring Andersen disappeared until only the frames and keel remained and even then, 164 of the 186 frames were replaced. With a new oak hull, and deck and cabin tops made from 16 logs of Burmese teak, The Ring-Andersen was ready for modern chartering as a stunning, truly world-class luxury yacht.
The interior, remembered so fondly by Griffiths, was completely redesigned and a shortened deckhouse was added to increase the outdoor lounging space. She now sleeps six in three large double staterooms with queen sized beds and private facilities, separate crew quarters and an aft Captain's cabin. In Ros day there was no air-conditioning but she still has 4,250 sq. feet of sail area. And as with most yachts of today, she is completely modernized with all of the newest technical data - cell phones, e-mail, fax, radar, SSB etc. However, she still holds the nobility of a true classic yacht.
Griffiths eyes filled with tears as she related the stories of yesteryear on our ride back home. Those were good years. The world was different then and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to be an integral part of that. Ring Anderson will always bring back the fondest of memories for me. Now if we could just get her to return to the BVI for the Sweethearts Race & Classic Yacht Regatta on Valentines in February - wouldnt that be something. I could even crew ?