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Editors Log – Rallies Rubbish and Reverse

In times of recession, perhaps the best thing you can do is go sailing and, judging by the number of boats taking part in the various offshore rallies, that is just what many people are doing this year!

I have never been one for organized events but the thought of joining one of the rallies grows more attractive as time goes by. The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, better known as The ARC, is again looking at a record number of boats leaving Las Palmas for St. Lucia in November. Similar can be said for the Caribbean 1500, which is now run by, the same organization behind The ARC. In a surprising move, a cruising couple who have participated in many rallies and sailed thousands of blue-water miles, have gone ahead and started an offshore rally of their own. The Salty Dog Rally has already attracted a nice number of boats and I see no reason why this event won’t grow in the future.

Having spoken to lots of people who have taken part in rallies, I have yet to hear one person say they didn’t have fun.

For more on this year’s slew of offshore rallies, take a look at our features beginning on page 46.

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As I sat down to right this month’s Editor’s Log, the remains of a six-ton UARS satellite plunged into the Pacific Ocean off the US west coast, adding yet more junk to our already hurting seas. On my own island of St. Martin, I recently took part in the annual Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Clean-up and helped remove a huge amount of garbage, much of it plastic, from one of our most popular beaches. The good new is that the amount of trash was down on that of last year. Of course there are plenty of reasons why that could be, but I like to think we are all taking more care when disposing of our junk especially now that it’s falling out of the sky.

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Getting a boat to move can be difficult enough, but the fun really begins when you can’t get a boat to stop. Two embarrassing instances come to mind.  The first took place while I worked for a boat builder. It was always a grand time when we launched a new boat and on this particular day the job of launching, and then motoring the yacht into the marina, fell to me.

Our police escort had returned to the station, the crane had lowered the yacht ceremoniously into the commercial harbor and I was ready in the cockpit with the engine running. With the new owner on the bow, I slipping the boat into gear and we began our maiden voyage. Wanting to impress the owner, I increased the engine revs and we entered the marina in fine style. The yachts temporary berth was at the far corner of the marina, between the high harbor wall and the last finger pier. To get there we had to motor between two long pontoons crowded with boats and their ogling crews. Everything was going perfectly, the proud owner waved his captain’s hat towards the onlookers as they complemented him on his lovely new boat and as one of the builders I bathed in the afterglow. 

About 50-yards from the berth, I thought it wise to slow down and pulled back on the throttle. It wouldn’t move. I pulled harder and the whole throttle assembly came off in my hand. The owner screamed in horror as we charged towards the harbor wall. I was no Captain Ron and we hit the granite with an almighty crack that hurled the owner through the air into the harbor and left the new pulpit pointing skywards like the branches of a tree stuck by lightening.

The second incident involved my wife and a bucket on the end of a rope but at the risk of a divorce, I’ll leave that story for another edition …

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