To celebrate the launch of its first published book, St. John: Life in Five Quarters, the St. John Historical Society is hosting an adventure at sea aboard Coral Bay’s own tall ship.
The 110-year old steel schooner Silver Cloud will carry up to 50 passengers on a day sail out of Coral Bay harbor on Saturday, February 20, starting at 9:30 a.m.
The day will feature an optional snorkeling stop in Round Bay, and depending on the wind, a cruise along the south shore of St. John up to Lameshur.
On board activities include historical presentations by David Knight, Les Anderson, Eleanor Gibney and Silver Cloud Captain Elliot Hooper. A catered lunch prepared by Shipwreck Landing’s Chef Jim McManus and water will be included in the $90 cost. Wine and beer will be available for purchase.
The sail culminates almost a year of work by SJHS board members Bruce Schoonover, Robin Swank, Eleanor Gibney and David Knight to create St. John: Life in Five Quarters.
“Since its inception in 1974, the primary mission of the St. John Historical Society has been to identify, document, preserve and share the rich history of this very special island known as St. John,” said Schoonover. “The society has done this through informed activities and programs, the publication of an outstanding newsletter, and by the development of a comprehensive website.”
St. John: Life in Five Quarters, a 216-page stitched soft cover book, brings together 66 articles culled from the pages of SJHS’s monthly newsletter.
“The society has been doing a newsletter for the past 10 years and I’ve been doing it for the last six years,” said Schoonover, SJHS’s newsletter editor. “Once I became in charge of the newsletter, I really was a fierce advocate of getting this stuff down in writing.”
“Up to that point we really didn’t have full summaries of some of the presentations we had at our monthly meetings,” Schoonover said. “We started meticulously recording the presentations and printing them in our newsletter.”
The group ended up with about 115 articles over the decade, from which the editors selected the best ones to tell the tale of Love City from the Danish colonial days to the present, explained Schoonover.
“From the collection we picked the best of the best and what we have is 66 different articles that really describe life on St. John from the very early Danish days right up to the present time,” he said. “This book also contains an impressive collection of images — many of which are being published here for the first time.”
The book signifies the first major publication of St. John history in the last two decades, according to Schoonover.
“This is, from our perspective, really the first book that has come out over the past 20 years that is exclusively about the history of St. John,” he said. “Ruth Low’s Backtime, printed in the 1980s, was the last volume to come out. And we used the latest technology so there are crystal clear photos.”
“It truly is extraordinary,” said Schoonover. “I think it is going to be very well received by the public.”
The February 20 Silver Cloud day sail will also be a SJHS fundraiser, as the group has big plans for the future.
“This is obviously designed to help us fund the book, but also the society is growing all the time and we have this vision of some day having our own home and our own archive,” Schoonover said. “We’d love to have office space, a museum and to build our collection. So we’re really trying to build our financial stability in order for us to take the next step.”
The Silver Cloud adventure can only accommodate up to 50 passengers and SJHS members expect to have a full boat. Tickets are available at Connections in Coral Bay and Cruz Bay and Keep Me Posted. Interested attendees should bring their own snorkel gear.