A free spirit who saw the world.
From St. Croix Courier Weekend, Friday May 12, 2000 by Barb Rayner
St. Andrews. A familiar face will be missing around the town's wharf this summer. The colourful captain of the tallship Cory, Marc Witteveen, died at his home in Bayside Sunday. He was 44. He is survived by his wife Janyne, as well as his father, a sister and a brother.
A memorial service was held at St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church Tuesday with Father Joseph Le Blanc officiating.
Witteveen was born in Apeldoorn, Holland, and first went into the family clothing business before deciding this was not for him. He then took off backpacking in Asia and when he ran out of money began working on a sail cargo boat.
At that time, said his wife, he didn't speak English so the crew taught him. His work on the cargo boat took him to various parts of the world including an encounter with pirates in the south American seas.
However it was always a dream of Witteveen's to build his own boat and when he inherited some money following his mother's death he went to Whangarei, New Zealand to build the Cory. Mrs. Witteveen said he chose to build the tallship in New Zealand because the labour was cheaper there and the quality of the steelwork and wood work is good.
The Cory is a 72 foot, gaff rigged, square rigged cutter. She is a replica of the Jolly Breeze, a famous boat of the 1900's which won the Fast End races between England and Ireland three times and on two occasions rescued crews for the seas.
It took Witteveen two and a half years to build the Cory and she was launched in New Zealand on Dec. 7, 1989. From New Zealand he sailed the tallship to Australia and from there went on to Mauritius where Janyne first met him when she was invited out for a day's sailing by the crew.
She was due to return to Japan where she had been teaching English and physical education and Witteveen suggested she sail with them to South Africa and go on from there. "He told me it would take 10 days and
I would be back in time but we had no wind and ran out of diesel so it took 17 days."
In fact she never did go back to Japan but stayed on the Cory. Together she and Witteveen traveled all over the world in the tallship visiting places such as South Africa, St. Helena - where Napoleon was exiled - Ascension Island and South America.
Usually the couple were accompanied by two or three crew members. In many cases, she said, they would pick up crew members and give them room and board in exchange for getting them somewhere.
The couple lived on the boat and did weekly charters to earn money. "We were doing weekly charters in the Caribbean and all over - Venezuela and all the islands - Antigua, St. Martin's, St. Kitts, Trinidad."
It was while they were in Antigua that they made the decision to come to St. Andrews and when they arrived Witteveen decided that this was the place he wanted to stay. "When we got off the boat here, he just walked down the main street and said this it. He liked the people here."
That was June 25, 1995 and that first year they were not working out of the town's day adventure centre but were down at The Lighthouse. They moved to the day adventure centre the following year. After moving to the town Witteveen also joined the Chamber of Commerce and the BIA.
During the winter of 1995/96 the couple went back to the Caribbean with the Cory to work and the following winter went to Australia. However they decided to stick around for the winter of 1997/98 and were here for the ice storm. "We though it would be fund to experience a winter here," said Mrs. Witteveen.
They purchased the house in Bayside, which has 50 acres, last year and got married on the verandah there. Witteveen was looking forward to getting into farming. Their plan was to grow their own food and also sell some and Witteveen was also looking at tree farming.
The Cory will once again be offering a chance to sail to a whale this summer but there will another captain at the helm. Mrs. Witteveen said she has two captains lined up and they plan to start June 1.