Foxy’s, the Wooden Boat Regatta and the Firewater Rum Design
Sometime in the early 1970s, we began batting around the idea of hosting a Wooden Boat Regatta on Jost Van Dyke, which was largely influenced by our friendship with Les Anderson, a St John artist-in-residence, seaman and sailor, whose artwork has become a part Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and iconic designs – such as “Foxy’s Firewater Rum.”
In the early 1970’s, Les was building a beautiful little cowhorn schooner on Hassle Island, off of St. Thomas in the shadow of Manfred Dietrich the sailmaker, who lived on Hassle Island for many, many years and whose notoriety I had already heard as I was coming across the Atlantic from Gibraltar on a large Schooner, the Nordlys, with Captain Bill Bodle at the helm and Foxy as his first mate.
And that, dear friends, is how I first came to the BVI and how I became enmeshed in this salty, adventurous tribe of sailors and artisans who have helped shape me, Foxy and of course, the eclectic nature of Foxy’s Tamarind Bar.
Along with Les, a group of other adventurous young men, such as Julian Putley (all who were undeterred by a lack of actual boat-building experience), spearheaded by Augie Holand in Coral Bay, were building wooden cowhorn schooners on the coasts of the Virgin Islands. The fact of Les already having a muse (Penelope, after whom he was naming the cowhorn schooner he was building), did not stop him vying for the affections of another and it is Les’s story that this how the Wooden Boat Regatta first came about – as a challenge between boatsmen to capture a young woman named Sylvia and take her as a prize. And so, Les Anderson’s schooner, Penelope, and Augie Holand’s schooner, Taurus, were to race.
Well as luck would have it, Les lost the race to Augie but it was the start of a grand tradition. For as long as those beautiful wooden boats could stand the rigors of our tropical climate – and Les was to upkeep the schooner Penelope with a continuous flow of artistic renderings every year for over 40 years. These renderings we used for our posters and our tshirts, but the one that endured the longest and still lasts to this day as an iconic Foxy’s design is the one that he did of Foxy himself lying on a beach (which looks suspiciously like Sandy Cay), leaning against a rum barrel in the cool of a coconut tree, watching the race.
In turn, when we started to think of developing our own brand of rum and rum label – what better design could we think of then this and we called the rum “Foxy’s Firewater.” The rum was the rum, but this image! Somehow it seemed to encompass the whole notion of life in the Caribbean.
We first started to produce our own rum in the 1990’s and Elliot Hooper, who had come from Key West where he was screen printing designs on t-shirts for the likes of Jimmy Buffet (and other notorious Caribbean characters) now printed T-shirts for Foxy’s and many of them were the Foxy’s Firewater design. Elliot’s land-based printing operation at Tall Ship Trading on St. John was badly damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017 at which time Elliot moved printing onboard Silver Cloud, his 110-foot Iron schooner, which also serves as the Wooden Boat Regatta’s Race Committee Boat each year. You may notice small imperfections on these hand-printed t-shirts that sometimes occur from trying to paint t-shirts onboard a boat – but these imperfections, dear friends, just make them all the more special. (Here on Jost, we like to think that our ‘little’ imperfections make us special too!).
We are now offering our Foxy’s Firewater T’s online in our online store at www.shopfoxysbvi.com We hope you will love them as much as we do – it’s a great design with a whole lot of history.