The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Endeavor brings three Ohio State graduates and dozens of others together to preserve the ABC Islands’ last sailing cargo boat.

Patrick Holian ’70 calls the restoration of Stormvogel, a 64-year-old wooden cargo boat, “the project of a lifetime.” The fact that he’s been able to connect with two other Ohio State graduates in the process simply sweetens the experience.

A transplant on the southern Caribbean island of Bonaire, Holian is a filmmaker, a writer and a key player in the revival of Stormvogel.

The boat was built in 1951, initially to haul propane tanks between Curaçao and Bonaire and later to transport such conventional island freight as 80 to 90 goats among the ABC Islands. It has long sat idle on Curaçao, gathering age and trash.

“As a 10-year-old, I had crafted an 8-foot pram during a long, cold Cleveland winter with substantial help from my father. But that didn’t matter,” Holian said, recapping his prior boat-building expertise. “I soon discovered that my island community deeply loved the vulnerable old boat in question and, perhaps more importantly, what the boat represented.”

People from all walks of life, even old sailors who manned the boat a half century ago, have joined in the restoration. Among the volunteers is Jeff Campbell ’78, a part-time Bonaire resident who just retired from ER doctor duties in Portland, Oregon.

“There are so many charities to give to, but what I like about this is the passion for the project,” Campbell said. “I’m looking forward to connecting with others, especially the old Bonarean boat builders. I want to hear their stories.”

Stateside, Eddie Freeman ’87 has been helping Holian with a short film about the boat for use in fundraising efforts. He scores films for National Geographic and The Discovery Channel. “I’m always interested in anything water related, and I like applying my musical chops to that,” he said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to restore history and teach kids about their culture.”

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Stormvogel is being restored here at the Navegante Boatyard on Bonaire.
Volunteers prepare the boat for transport from  Curaçao to Bonaire.
A police escort is ready to escort Stormvogel to the restoration site.
Ismael Soliano, who captained the boat for about four years, is among many volunteers involved.
Jeff Campbell '78, a just-retired ER doc and part-time resident of Bonaire, has joined the effort.
François van der Hoeven sits in Stormvogel's hold.
Boat builder Johnny Craane is heading the restoration work.
Here’s a view of the cargo hold from the deck.
Julia Martinus is one of several student volunteers.
Preparing Stormvogel for transport meant removing a 1.6-ton engine and lots of other junk.
Stripped down to her historical core, Stormvogel awaits transport to Bonaire.
Martin Felida owned and served as captain of Stormvogel for nearly 50 years.
Eddie Freeman '87  developed the score for a film on Stormvogel for use in fundraising.


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