Harold La Borde, Trinidadian sailor, Died at 82

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Harold La Borde was born in Trinidad, West Indies, in 1933

He was a famous Trinidadian sailor and adventurer.

In 1969 to 1973, he had circumnavigated the world in his 40-ft ketch, Hummingbird II.

La Borde was accompanied by his wife, Kwailan, and his five-year-old son Pierre.

He was one of the first known Trinidadian sailors to cross the Atlantic and later to circumnavigate, Harold and Kwailan were awarded the nation’s highest honour – the Gold Trinity Cross.

He came from parents with a rich mixture of blood in their veins – French, African, Spanish and Amerindian (Carib).

Harold received his education at a local Roman Catholic school and began his sailing career by building dinghies, in which he taught himself the rudiments of seamanship, and reading any book about deep-sea sailing that he could lay his hands on.

He was very determined to get a suitable boat, opting to build one himself.

He wrote his first book, An Ocean to Ourselves (1962), La Borde tells how he built a 26-foot ketch Humming Bird.

Himself and Kwailan, who were married in 1959, made their maiden voyage in the 26-foot vessel, Humming Bird, to England in 1960, together with a friend, Buck Wong Chong.

His boat, The Humming Bird was eventurally sold, and says Harold “is somewhere in Europe.”

His team, always working as a team, took jobs at an Outward Bound school in Nigeria in 1961, after the voyage, but the call of the sea was too strong for the young couple and they returned to Trinidad in 1963, when they started to build the 40-foot ketch Humming Bird II.

The couples first son, Pierre, arrived while work was in progress.

Their boat was completed in three years and, after chartering her out to Americans for a further three years in order to raise sufficient funds, the family set out on February 2, 1969 on the, now historic, voyage that took them around the world.

The couple was both awarded their nation’s highest award, the Trinity Cross for their seafaring adventure.

Then there second son arrived, Andre, was born in Auckland, New Zealand, during the voyage.

As they return home, the 40-foot Humming Bird II was purchased by the Trinidad and Tobago Government in 1973, and can be seen in the museum near the lighthouse on South Quay; and according to Harold “is rotting away there, ‘It is a sad thing, especially when you talk about taking care of historical things.”

Himself and wife took on another circumnavigation voyage via Cape Horn (1984–86) in the Humming Bird III.

Harold also wrote a other two books with input from his family, wife Kwailan and sons Pierre and André, All Oceans Blue (1977), and Lonely Oceans South (1987).

Also, a documentary films of their travels were made in conjunction with the Government Film Unit, which were also very professionally put together.

Following their retirement from their respective jobs in Trinidad, the La Bordes ran a small family marina in Trinidad’s busiest yachting bay.

And retired again, Harold’s full-time job is working on the Humming Bird III, every day while Kwailan was writing an autobiography and includes all of their sailing voyages to the present, entitled Wind, Sea, and Faith.

Harold La Borde passed away at 82 yrs old.

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