Harold La Borde
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Harold La Borde was a Trinidadian sailor and adventurer who from 1969 to 1973 circumnavigated the world in his 40-ft ketch Hummingbird II. He was accompanied by his wife, Kwailan, and his five-year-old son Pierre. As 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.
Harold was born in Trinidad, West Indies, on June 18th 1933 (died June 2016), of parents with a rich mixture of blood in their veins – French, African, Spanish and Amerindian (Carib). He was educated 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. Harold La Borde was determined to get a suitable boat, opting to build one himself.
In his first book, An Ocean to Ourselves (1962), La Borde tells how he built a 26-foot ketch Humming Bird. Harold 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. The Humming Bird was subsequently sold, and says Harold "is somewhere in Europe."
The La Bordes, 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. Their first-born son, Pierre, arrived while work was in progress.
The 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 2 February 1969 on the, now historic, voyage that took them around the world. Harold and Kwailan were both awarded their nation's highest award, the Trinity Cross for their seafaring adventure. Their second son, Andre, was born in Auckland, New Zealand, during the voyage.
Upon their 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."
Harold La Borde T.C. also wrote a further two books with input from his family, wife Kwailan and sons Pierre and André, All Oceans Blue (1977), and Lonely Oceans South (1987).
Documentary films of their travels were made in conjunction with the Government Film Unit, which were also very professionally put together. After retiring from their respective jobs in Trinidad, the La Bordes ran a small family marina in Trinidad's busiest yachting bay. Harold's full-time job was working on the Humming Bird III, every day while Kwailan finished their autobiography which includes all of their sailing voyages to the present, entitled Wind, Sea, and Faith.
Harold La Borde died on June 12, 2016, leaving behind his wife, sons Pierre and Andre, three grandchildren (Shannon, Arama, and Sanchia), and his brothers Rudy and Hugh.