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Passing of a BVI Elder

Vol. III, No. 34

Conrad Smith overlooking Great Harbor, Peter Island.

Conrad Smith overlooking Great Harbor, Peter Island.

Conrad Smith passed away earlier this week. He was in his 80s, blind from cataracts, and a landowner on Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands. In contrast to the luxury resort that sprawls the majority of the the island, Conrad’s digs were very modest, but for him more than sufficient.  Over the last ten or twenty years (or maybe longer?), he would spend the majority of his days hanging out in Great Harbor on Peter Island, near his home, cleaning conch shells and selling them to bareboaters who would pass through his property to visit the resort.

I had the fortune to get to know Conrad and really appreciate the spirit and joy that he found, and enjoyed sharing with others, in daily life. The thing is, I’m just one of hundreds, probably thousands, of BVI visitors who have taken Conrad’s hand, exchanged in a conversation, shared some smiles and laughs, and walked away with an attitude adjustment.

It’s no surprise that Conrad didn’t have a facebook profile, or a LinkedIn account. I giggle to myself as I consider the ridiculousness of that statement. But the irony is, Conrad, who I think it’s safe to say never used a computer, is somewhat of a legend on the Internet. Many people whose lives he touched just from a short encounter or two have written about him.

Here’s a collection of some of the articles and references- in everything from large international publications to popular travel forums and personal blogs- to Conrad that I’ve found through a quick online search. Be sure to check out the images in the first link. They tell his story well.

Gibbon Victory Photography, 2008:

BVI Welcome’s history of Peter Island:

Conde Nast Traveler, 2003:, 2008:

TravelTalkOnline, 2013:

Eat, Drink, Travel, Be Happy, 2013:

Boston Herald, 2007:

D and G do the BVIs, 2006:

Virgin Island Sailing Ltd chareter’s review, 2010:


The bareboaters who pass through the Smith family land on Peter Island from now on will fall into one of two categories: those who miss seeing Conrad there, and those who missed seeing Conrad there. A loss for both.


Categories: WaterViews

2 Responses

  1. Felicia Grant says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful article! We have been visiting with Conrad for the past 20 years on our way to Peter Island…..Our last visit was 2 years ago and we enjoyed some amazing talks with Conrad passing thru. We delivered Key Lime Pie from Miss Jean at the resort and in turn Conrad would give me a beautiful conch shell… We will miss his so much and our visits will not be the same without him there watching over us all!

  2. Sandra Grisham-Clothier says:

    Dear DC,

    My husband and I have been friends with Conrad “Scobbie or Old Thing” for the past 9 years. We are also very close to his family and will share your blog….they will love this…who know might even make it into his funeral booklet.

    Conrad has taught so many of us so much!

    Several Yachtsmen are working on a fund to put up a small memorial for him at his little beach…maybe something in bronze.

    Our sincere thanks,

    Sandra & Guy