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Jol Byerley’s Aug 06 Letter from Antigua

At this time of year, there is not a great deal going on around the waterfronts of Antigua. It’s a bit strange really, but it seems only a very short time since English Harbour and Falmouth Bay were bursting at the seems. There were great big mega yachts, huge motor boats with more crew than people in Mexico City, dozens upon dozens of charter yachts, and of course there were the world cruising fraternity all wondering where to go next.

Then, suddenly, they were all gone! Empty harbours, empty marinas, and very few people in the normally packed out evening time bars. Now, as most people know Judy and I have done the regular English Harbour Radio weather report since the Boar War at 9 o’clock each morning. This is for the benefit of the yachtsmen that maybe left lurking around as well as locals and residents of Antigua Barbuda who are constantly looking behind them at the normally deserted and relatively peaceful Atlantic. But only yesterday I realized just how many “live aboards” are still with us!

Mind you, if you have to spend the summer months in a Caribbean harbour ready to cozy up next to the mangroves English Harbour is a good place to do it. Remember that the Royal Navy chose it to be their maintenance base from the early 1700’s to the late 1800’s. Because of this, English Harbour has been considered a pretty safe hurricane anchorage. If there has been any trouble, it has been caused by vessels which come at the last moment, gasping into the anchorage just prior to the on coming storm with insufficient anchors and old lines that wouldn’t hold a couple of enthusiastic young goats !

But to be honest, I have kept my own boats here for something like 49 years and the only time I suffered damage was during hurricane Luis when two yachts on either side of me reared and roared around like a couple of frightened horses ! Actually this was probably a good thing as thanks to another owners insurance company, I was able to change Hightides topside colour from a sort of puke cream to a rather sexy maroon!

For those of you who don’t remember Luis it blew up 150 knots or so for 36 hours…and that hurricane taught me that a well moored yacht in a secure anchorage ( meaning in the water) is pretty darned secure. Unless that is, other not so well moored yachts choose to attack! Anyway, I really hope that before we get much further into the hurricane season a competent committee under the auspices of the National Parks will keep an eye on things in this generally safe hurricane anchorage.

But…what I really wanted to talk about was the World Cup! With two dam great dish things we are able to get the matches on ESPN. So there were Judy and I expecting to watch the poor little Aussies get completely pummeled by the mighty Italians. But not a bit of it! Playing with the sort of tenacity they had displayed many years ago at Tobruk (does anyone know where that is?) they gave more than they got but with only four or five seconds to go the Italians were given a very debatable penalty. The score was zero, zero and I suddenly thought I had trouble with my own eyes…for Italy had scored! So the Aussies went home empty handed but those brave Australian hearts had nearly pulled off what would have been the upset of the entire World Cup. So I have a suggestion. Maybe all future World Cup games should be played in full 16 th century armor and on horseback!

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