M/V Stede Bonnet – A Vital Link

Since writing about the Stede Bonnet breakfast, I’ve learned a bit more about the vessel itself.

Built by Symonette Shipyard in Nassau, Bahamas, the 105-ft M/V Stede Bonnet was one of two trawlers commissioned by the Royal Navy to serve as mine sweepers in Singapore.

bahamas, abaco, nassau, stede bonnet, motor vessel

Wooden model of the M/V Stede Bonnet by Green Turtle Cay model shipbuilder, Vertrum Lowe, displayed at Frederick’s Agency Customs Brokers, Marsh Harbour.

Before the vessels were completed however, Singapore was captured by the Japanese and they were no longer needed.

One trawler became the M/V Church Bay.

The other was christened the M/V Stede Bonnet — presumably a nod to the 18th century Barbadian pirate with the same name — and assigned to service the mail run between Nassau and Abaco. Though known as “the mail boat,” the Stede Bonnet also ferried fuel, fresh produce and grocery items, dry goods, housewares, livestock and passengers.

On the day the mail boat was due, there would be excitement in the air. New Plymouth residents would finish their chores early, and gather to watch the vessel being unloaded and its cargo distributed.

In towns with shallower harbours, the Stede Bonnet anchored offshore. Tenders were sculled out to transport passengers and freight to shore.

The Stede Bonnet served as a vital link between Nassau and the Abaco mainland and cays for 27 years, before being replaced in 1970 by the M/V Deborah K.

In researching the Stede Bonnet, I uncovered two family connections to the vessel.

My cousin, Jack Albury, tells me that his father, Ancil (“Spotty”) Albury, brother of my grandfather, Lionel Albury, captained the Stede Bonnet in the early 1950s. Jack made many trips with his dad on the mail boat during school holidays.

Another cousin, Gail Lowe, tells me that her grandfather, Ludd Lowe (husband of Ma May’s sister, Sarah), was once the cook on the Stede Bonnet. And yes, Gail confirms, he did indeed cook Fire Engine many mornings to feed the crew and passengers.

  8 comments for “M/V Stede Bonnet – A Vital Link

  1. September 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Amanda, The photo shared is one taken in my office (Fredeerick’s Agency Customs Brokers) in Marsh Harbour.

  2. September 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    That’s right. Thanks for reminding me! I have updated the photo caption. 🙂

  3. Joy Lowe Jossi
    September 3, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Amanda, Jack, Gail, you demonstrate the value of collaboration. Each adds special facets; Model of the boat, 1950s Captain Ancil Albury, cook Ludd Lowe. About April 1949 when I was 9, I did a Stede Bonnet trip to Abaco with my parents and younger sister. We went to Green Turtle Cay for two weeks for Mr/Dr Walter Kendrick’s skin cancer treatment that worked!

  4. Doris Taylor
    September 4, 2014 at 4:48 am

    According to my mother her father John N Albury built the Stede Bonnet and the Richard Campbell when he worked for Symonette Shipyard. Both of these ships were built as mine sweepers. I visited Vertrum Lowe’s workshop at Green Turtle Cay during my last visit to Abaco in 2011 and was able to take photos of the models of both of these boats.

    • Doris Taylor
      September 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      My mother has corrected my, her father John N Albury did not build the Richard Campbell it was the Stede Bonnet and the Caribbean Queen that her father built as mine sweepers for for Sir Roland Symonette.

  5. September 5, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Very interesting! I’m sure you’ve seen this link…
    http://mailboatsbahamas.blogspot.com/2013/07/mv-stede-bonnet-built-in-bahamas-as.html

    • Doris Taylor
      September 6, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you for that link I haven’t seen this site before.

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