Laurin L. Knowles

Story by Stefan J. Knowles

At a time in the history of Mangrove Bush, Long Chase, the Humming Bird which is arguable the best Island when the majority of the sailing giants have hand crafted sloop of its time and the Baby Chase passed on, there remains one that is still standing strong and enthused. He is a giant of a man, serious and quiet but yet willing to show that smile of confidence.

Laurin was the first  of ten children born to Earl and Corabell Knowles of Mangrove Bush, Long Island on the 24th day of January, 1938. With humble beginnings, he has surely done well. He participated in his first National Family Island Regatta in 1955 under the guidance of his father Earl. Since then the Knowles’ Family have become an integral part of regattas in The Bahamas.

In 1956, Laurin sailed in George Town again, this time as co—owner, with his father Earl and brother Cyril in the Gloria K. He was introduced to sloop building when he helped his father with the construction of the Susan Chase I. Since its introduction to regattas in 1963, the Susan Chase I has won nine championships in the class B division up until she was abandoned in 1992 only to be replaced in 1993 by the New Susan Chase, which was awarded best overall captain in the Class B division during the 47th National Family Island Regatta in 2000.

Since the building of the Susan Chase I, Laurin has constructed many other  boats including the  Susan Chase III now known as the Sea Star, the New Susan Chase, the Humming Bird which is arguable the best hand crafted sl00p of its time and the Baby Chase which is the latest that he has built.

The story doesn’t end here though. Laurin believes in keeping the tradition of sloop sailing and design alive which has been part of the Kowles’ family for generations, and so he has introduced his six sons to the  s splendor of the sport. Mark, the eldest, has already made a name for himself as a master boat builder and regatta enthusiast. Stefan, the youngest, has also made the family proud with his accomplishments in the Junior regattas and the class E division as the captain of the Baby Chase. He has also participated in international sailing in l999 where he won a championship in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA – the residence of Bill Koch, a past winner of the America’s Cup. The other sons, Neil, Ian, David and Don have all mastered the fine art of sloop sailing and are crew for their father at regattas in Exuma, Long island, Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera and Nassau.

One may think then, that participating in regattas is all Laurin does. The fact is he’s a sailor by nature, having an affinity for boats and the sea; but he’s a building contractor by trade. He has built many edifices in Long Island including the Library and Museum in Buckley’s.

Apart from sailing and construction, Laurin has always helped in the building of his Long Island community. For twenty-two years he has served on the locan Town Planning Committee along with twelve years on the school board. Presently he is the Vice Commodore of the Long Island Sailing Club, a position that he has helf for twenty years and is active with other sporting and comminity based organizations. As a designer and a builder of the Bahamian sailing sloop, Laurin is committed to keeping the sport of sloop sailing alive in The Bahamas.

Although Laurin is a social activist and acute sailor, he has the recipe for decent family living. He has shared in a marriage with Lillith ‘Sue’ Knowles for forty-one years. The share the beauty of having eight children, the six sons mentioned earlier and two beautiful daughters Colleen and Crystal. They are also blessed with sixteen grandchildren.

When asked about his future plans Laurin says, “I will rejuvinate the Susan Chase I and allow my youngest son Stefan to lie at the help with my grandsons as crew. I beileve in this boat and I know that she can do it again. Besides, history does have the tendancy to repeat itself.”

Laurin: a man of all men. He has done well and gave it his best shot every time. For this, he deserved the honour.


A Poem

The Exumas
Sail her down, sail her down,
Sail her down to George Town.
Highborne Cay the first: we see,
Yellow Bank is by the lee.
Harvey Cay is in the moon,
Farmers Gay is coming soon.
Now we come to Galliot,

Out in the ocean we must go,
Children’s Bay is passing fast,
Stocking Island came at last.
Nassau gal is all behind,
George Town gal is on my mind.
A wiggle and a giggle and a jamboree,
Great Exuma is the place for me!
Exuma Islands Poem

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