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Jol Byerley’s Apr 05 Letter from Antigua

Ok
! Although I have lived in Antigua since 1957, I have to admit there is still a
little bit of being born a Brit left in me. But not for one moment did I think
I would find myself discussing, the weather of all things. This is of course an
Englishmans favourite subject, but apart from the lurking threat of summer time
hurricanes I never expected to find myself having a moan about the simply
horrible weather conditions we have had this winter season.Here in Antigua
(normally a dry island) it has rained and rained since December ! The fact
isthat the temperatures have been
strangely low especially at night. Our two dogs Scrumpy and Dinty,
cuddled up on the bed next to us, has been
almost as good as having a hot water bottle.

Now,
in a normal season both European and North American visitors really like
nothing better than to lie on the beaches of the Caribbean,( with a cooling rum
punch in hand) and let the sun turn them into passable imitations of burnt
toast. But not this season ! It has been more like the Manchester Ship Canal
than the West Indies, and the days when most of the bigger hotels might refund
a guest for every day of rain, have long been conveniently forgotten.

Yachtsmen
from the marinas in Falmouth have been turning up at Lord Jim’s Locker bundled
up to their ears in oilies and sweaters and walking in that strange huddled way
I last remember seeing on a winters night in Norfolk outside the Rose and Crown
as the Publican throws out those that can still stand from the smokey snugness
of the public bar. Even the Met. Office here is now admitting that “ this is
not really normal “. So, perhaps someone can tell me. What has happened to
Global

Warming ?

Anyway,
just the other day the delightfully named Wobbly Club held its second annual
“BYOB Regatta “ This is when all participants must “build your own boat “ in
something like three hours, out of numerous pieces of plywood,rolls of duct
tape, a handful of nails and all sorts of other things which my old Dad usually
kept in his garden shed back in our cottage in Potter Heigham. But of course he
never used these bits and pieces for anything like as useful as the Wobbly
Club. You see, these remarkable craft ( once built), must actually float and
also carry a wild eyed piratical crew right around the gleaming yachts moored
at the Catamaran Marina ( which is owned by no lesser person than Captain Hugh
Bailey ) . Remember that this unbelievable fleet has to be built in the
afternoon before being carried to the starting beach. Well a lot actually sink
on the spot as soon as water actually touches their hull. But a surprising
amount struggle gamely to the finish infront of a hugely enthusiastic crowd.
All of which have naturally taken advantage of “Jimmys Bar and Resturant “
which is sensibly situated right on the finish line. So you will therefore have
to forgive me if I don’t remember the names of the first 3 or 4 but suffice to
say the remains of 25 boats made it to the finish line with most crews in the
water and err……..pushing ! Of course the wind had to change direction, and a
little rain had to fall. But what a blast everyone had. I seem to remember that
years ago we resident English Harbour charter yachtsmen used to get up to this
sort of thing way,way back in the good old days. Old Batchy Carr and Jimmy
Blackburn, both retired RAF Officers, Captain Bruno Brown and
Lt. Commander Mike Badham, retired from the
Royal Navy, and old Ian Spencer who was retired from just about everything. Plus
dear old Peter Hiscott who looked and behaved like an Admiral but was probably
only an ordinary A.B. All of this wonderful group is unfortunately no longer
with us.For which we are a much sadder ( but not wiser) lot of old pharts. So
may I say long live The Wobbly Club.

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