September and it’s haulout time for many Caribbean cruisers. With new facilities springing up all over the place and existing yards expanding and upgrading, it can be difficult choosing just which yard should receive a hefty part of your annual boating budget. Haulouts are necessary and the experience should be as painless as possible. To smooth the way and calm the nerves, discerning owners are advised to do plenty of research before allowing the slings to take the strain. Nothing is simple when you haul out, and that you get what you pay for doesn’t always ring true as the sight of a collapsed crane straddling a new half-million dollar catamaran in a well-known yard proved last year.
I have spent a lot of time in boatyards and have had some interesting experiences, many good, a few not so good, and at least two catastrophic. Happily, the cowboy mentality that for years plagued yards far and wide, and the mantra “I can do that, give me a job” is no longer prevalent. Well-managed yards now insist that their operatives receive training and as a result many Caribbean yards are now as good as you will find anywhere. You can see this for yourself in our annual feature ‘What’s new in Caribbean Boatyards’. In it, All At Sea senior writer Carol Bareuther lists the latest developments at ten facilities around the Caribbean, and it makes for interesting reading.
The ever increasing number of catamarans plying the waters of the Caribbean and southern Florida, charter and private, has led to yards making massive investments in equipment that can safely haul multihulls. These wide vessels require careful management during haulout and serious lessons have been learned the hard way. Terry Boram, our South Florida editor, and her husband Clint own and cruise an Island Spirit 401 catamaran which they recently hauled out. Terry’s thoughts on preparations and what you should look at before the boat is lifted can be found on page 42.
Food, glorious food! When it comes to ‘grub up’ the Caribbean has some wonderful dishes to offer. My own island of St Martin is known as the Gourmet Capitol of the Caribbean, and it’s a reputation hard earned and well deserved. Competition for the title is fierce and so it is with great pleasure, and a smacking of lips, that this month we feature ten of the best Caribbean Food Festivals (p58). Some of the festivals go on for a whole month and others for only a few days, but all feature fine local and international cuisine. Everything from finger-sticky BBQ to the finest of fine dining can be found at the various food extravaganzas and if my waistline could stand the strain, a cruise built around these delightful fiestas would be a wonderful thing to pursue.
Poker Runs are growing in popularity and more and more islands are organizing these exciting events. Yes, there are people out there who take pleasure in the roar of a powerful engine and enough G-force to slam your kidneys into your back as they seek to escape out of your throat. If you can hang on to your internal organs then powerboats are a lot of fun. Adrenalin-pumping Poker Runs not only bring together a different group of enthusiasts, the gas-heads raise a lot of money for charity and I can’t think of many sailing events that do that.
Listen to the podcast
Every month Gary records a podcast. The podcast is available on iTunes or you can download it to your mp3 player, tablet or computer by following the links on our websites: allatsea.net and: garyebrown.net/audiovideo.html
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter