Ahoy! Happy MMXVI

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Welcome to the first All At Sea of 2016. At this time, many editors like to look astern as the highlights of the past year bob in their wake but we are not going to do that, instead, we are going to look ahead, and we start with our four-page Regatta Preview. Nowhere in the world hosts as many high-class regattas as the Caribbean. We have perfect sailing conditions and an ideal mix of competition and shore side revelry. Thanks to forward thinking by race organizers supported by the Caribbean Sailing Association, the regatta scene continues to prosper. Events offer something for everyone from dinghy racing to regattas for the largest and most spectacular boats on the planet, and it’s a thrill to see many of these regattas expanding into sailing festivals. Festivals involve more than sailing; they celebrate the culture of the sea, the marine environment and the people who make their living on or from the ocean. More importantly, like the West Indies Regatta in St. Barth, they reconnect Caribbean people with their maritime heritage, something that for years was in danger of being lost forever.

Just as exciting as the growing number of quality regattas is the number of local youngsters who are getting fired up for the sport of sailing and the impressive amount of volunteer organizations that are supporting the kids along the way. As well as being fun, many youngsters now recognize sailing as the first step in building a career in the Caribbean marine industry, an industry that shows few signs of slowing down. In the modern world sailing qualifications are more important than ever, old hands (like me) often shunned qualifications preferring to qualify through experience alone. In the past, gaining a sailing qualification could be difficult, something only available to a select few. That is now a thing of the past and although hard work is still involved, the opportunity to take a course leading to a qualification in most things nautical is open to everyone.

All At Sea readers are nothing if not resourceful. Craving something green in a sea of blue, cruiser Birgit Hackl built a garden on her cruising boat Pitufa, I kid you not. Pitufa’s garden doesn’t sport a lawn so there’s no grass to mow but what it does have is an abundance of fresh herbs and spices. Sheltered from sea spray by a dodger that doubles as a seagoing greenhouse, the mini herb garden provides Birgit and husband Christian with a little fresh produce while they are sailing or in some remote anchorage away from markets and stores. Birgit’s garden is impressive. I’ve tried cultivating plants while on passage only to bury them at sea not many days later. Even a cactus that was guaranteed to survive a nuclear attack perished within weeks of coming aboard. You can activate your green fingers on page 42 of our cruising section.

In the November edition we published an article about Cuba and the paperwork American yachts require to legally enter that country. As we went to press, the rules governing US vessels entering Cuba changed again. There is little doubt that restrictions on US vessels entering the communist state have eased as the two countries move towards a more normal relationship and many American sailors are excited at the prospect of exploring Cuba’s seemingly pristine cruising grounds. Having published one article only to have it rendered obsolete as the magazine hit the stands, we were reluctant to risk publishing an update. However, after consultation with the article’s author, we decided to go ahead and run the update with the proviso that although the information was correct at the time of going to press, things are still evolving. If you have visited Cuba, we would love to hear about your experiences and perhaps through the pages of All At Sea and our website, help smooth the way for those who wish to follow.

 

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