In 1936, the Caribbee was commissioned to design, by Robert B. Noyes. She was created as a larger and more comfortable version of ‘Ayesha’, his previous boat. The final result was the 58-foot “Alondra”. She was built entirely of wood, much the same hull shape, but with a deeper keel and a deeper stinging rudder. This would ensure optimum control in more difficult circumstances and long ocean trips. Both the ‘Ayesha’ and ‘Alondra’ were characterized by a, for that period, special ratio of width /length (3.0), which benefited the upwind qualities. The ‘Alondra’ ,lateron renamed Caribbee, designed as an oceanracer, was built by the famous Henry Nevins shipyard on City Island (NY).
‘Caribbee’ ocean racer
After Carleton Mitchell bought the boat at the end of the 1940-s the boat became an active part of the Atlantic racing circuit.
A race across the Atlantic is not just a piece of technical sailing or just an adventurous journey: it is for the participants a great experience, not only emotionally but also physically. Moments of exhaustion and elation, freezing fog and searing sun, whooshes and maddening bobbing, alternate. But always start the routine on board and the necessary maintenance of the ship. Day and night, guard after guard. But boredom? Not for a second!
The Caribbee won as many as 36 major sailing races in five year
Mitchell and the “Caribbee ‘have won as many as 36 major competitions in five years, including very prestigious ones. In 1950, 1952 and 1953, the Southern Ocean Racing Conference in 1952, the Transatlantic Race of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (Bermuda – Plymouth). About this trip Mitchell wrote a bestseller called: “Passage East”. In that same year, they were successful during the Cowes Week, where she won three of the four games. The combination also won three times in a row the Newport – Bermuda Race, as well as the St.Petersburg – Havana Race. The Miami – Nassau race: twice, the Chesapeake Bay Championship and so on. The dozens of plaques on board are still there to prove it: the “Caribbee” was the undisputed queen of the Atlantic and of course the Caribbean Sea in the 1950-s.
The perfect combination
Besides Atlantic and Caribbean travel – because you can not always match sail – Mitchell also undertook a tour of the Baltic Sea, the Göta Canal, the great Swedish lakes, Finnish coast and the Swedish archipelago. About this trip, he has published extensively in the National Geographic.
The ‘Caribbee’ has never let him down. It was the perfect combination. Without Mitchell she had never built its stellar reputation and for Mitchell, she was the epitome of the yacht that he had in min. Its combination of speed and comfort spoke to him probably the most because he saw himself primarily as a hedonist, more of a ‘cruiser’ than a ‘racer’. But what an ambitious’ cruiser ‘…
In the archives of America’s largest maritime museum, Mystic Seaport “is the story of Mitchell and the” Caribbee’ preserved in Mitchell’s logs and hundreds of his photographs. The joy he had with the Caribbee is probably best described in the following sentence Mitchell wrote about her:
“I believe I May Objectively say no boat of her size and type during a similar period has Given more service or pleasure to her owner …” Carleton Mitchell, 1955
The Caribbee had many famous owners over its history. After Carleton Mitchell the boat was owned by an industrialist called Seaburry Stanton. This man saw his company, Berkshire Hathaway at that time the largest American textile conglomarate, being raided/sold to the world famous investor Warren Buffet. In fact it seems that he was one of the few investors who made money on Buffet. Buffet even called the transaction ‘his 200 billion blunder’ reffering to it as his biggest mistake ever in his 2014 letter to the shareholders.
Recently the boat has been refitted with new equipment, mast and sails after being in storage for more than 5 years ashore. Nimbus hands on investors provided the financing for the project and the boat is currently operated by the ‘Sailing Heritage’ Foundation. Sailing Heritage is a foundation of volunteers which want to keep the history of this historic ship alive and floating!