A Touch of Class

Columbia in all her glory. Photo: OceanMedia

This edition of All At Sea has something for everyone: cruising, racing, fishing, art, history, humor, adventure and more, as we explore the Caribbean and beyond. In April I had my own adventure aboard the 50ft vintage schooner Charm III as we sailed to and from Antigua where we took part in the 29th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Racing in Antigua Classics, or at least being there while Classics is on should be on any sailor or traveler’s bucket list. There is something resonant about traditional vessels parading through historic English Harbor beneath the forts and battlements of Nelson’s Dockyard, itself now a metaphor for the regatta where modern ‘classics’ of steel and fiberglass are welcome to take part alongside those with wooden ‘walls’. This year’s list of sailing beauties included the newly built Columbia, a magnificent replica of a 141-foot Gloucester fishing/racing schooner. Being overtaken by her when she was almost close enough to touch is the stuff of dreams. In my mind I couldn’t help comparing the beautiful schooner of today with how she would have looked when a crew of hardened men drove her through winter seas towards the foggy Grand Banks, her decks stacked high with dories and ice straining the rig. I wonder if those men saw beauty in their ship or looked upon it as just a means to an end and a punishing one at that … Our own voyage to Antigua wasn’t all plain sailing and you can follow our exploits on page 72.

At the editorial office we understand that among some of our advertisers talking about hurricane season is often seen as detrimental to our Caribbean image. However, this year we have decided to stick our heads above the parapet and publish some hints and tips to help the increasing number of sailors and valued readers who cruise or live in the Caribbean year round or leave their boats in the Caribbean unattended during the hurricane season.

Whether you live and sail in the northern or southern part of the island chain, between the suspect months of June to November, a wise man checks the forecast for any weather systems developing off Cape Verde that might end up with a name.

My wife and I, like many of our contributors, live in the islands full time and have learned to take hurricane season in our stride, a bit like those who each year deal with winter snowstorms elsewhere. When I wrote my piece about hurricane prep, I had in mind the caustic criticism I received following my defense of those whose vessels were damaged by hurricane Gonzalo in 2014, the storm that wreaked costly havoc on my own boat. Written in the form of a blog, it divided opinion and received more comments than any blog I have written to date. Because we are more than a sailing magazine, I could probably have directed my article at those who live ashore through hurricane season, but boats and especially cruising boats are what I know. Please read my tips with an open mind. Much of what I mention worked for me until I failed to follow my own hard-earned advice. The choice you make as skipper is yours alone.

Columbia in all her glory. Photo: OceanMedia
Columbia in all her glory. Photo: OceanMedia

This month we publish our Sport Fishing Preview for the rest of 2016 and there are more new tournaments in the offing. The list of prizes for tournament winners is also on the increase: cash, cars, boats and gear. Last year’s fishing season was blighted by the large amounts of sargassum weed carpeting the Caribbean Sea, and we can but hope that things have improved and this year fishermen will spend more time catching fish and less time clearing their hooks. I’d be rather upset knowing I’d lost all chance of driving home in a brand new Jeep thanks to a strip of leathery plant matter. Our Sport Fishing preview is on page 48.

 

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