The very grim news from the Indian Ocean made everyone in this little island realize just how fragile our homes actually are. Nevertheless, we had 34 yachts on New Year’s Eve for the second annual Nelson’s Pursuit Race, and once again this slightly “hit or miss affair” proved to be very popular with all types of crews and boats. One of the ex-fishing sloops from the Grenadines retired just after the start so we actually ended up with the same number of yachts as last year! But the biggest surprise for me was that I found myself (and my family) racing Hightide for the first time in five years – and really enjoying it. Our little boat was at first just as shaky as I was, but on the last leg, a good old fashioned beat to windward, we began to get in the groove and even my grandson Jolyon Justin seemed to be enjoying himself.
“Come on Opa,” his nine-year-old voice piped out “we can get ’em”. Which we didn’t but it was fun trying. The 115-foot Sojana was almost out of sight by the time she started but she blasted through the fleet and came past us so quickly that Jolyon Justin stated that we should get a boat like her and beat up on all the others!
On Christmas Day, the annual party in the Dockyard was made rather special by having the two square-riggers Tenacious and Endeavour (a replica of Captain Cook’s vessel of the same name) alongside each other. The original Endeavour was first a collier on the east coast of the UK before Captain Cook took her on her great adventure to the Antipodes. This latter one, however, was built in Freemantle, Australia in 1993 and is commanded by Captain Chris Blake. On her departure from English Harbour the noise from her cannons during her farewell salute sent all the birds for miles around into a twittering scramble.
Oliver Green Smith is a shipwright who works for Jerry Bardoe and his company – which is called Chippy. Over many years, Chippy has built up a splendid reputation for their work on anything in the nautical field that is made out of wood. Not so long ago, Oliver built a Herreshoff 17-feet, half decked day boat which has an eight hundred pound lead keel. This given a bit of a boost when Halsey Herreshoff, a descendent of the famous family from Bristol, Rhode Island sailed into Antigua aboard his own yacht Rugosa which was actually built and designed by Halsey’s famous grandfather, the one and only Captain Nat in 1926. Naturally, Halsey had to see this new half decker and so I hear, was absolutely delighted to find a sparkling little ship that his granddad would have been proud of. Mainly built out of cedar planking and a wood called andaroba, this fine little craft had created a sensation at the recent Antigua charter yacht show. Although she hasn’t been sailing yet, she lies at the Yacht Club Marina and what a little beauty she is! There is already much talk that a fleet of them will be built for use around Antigua’s many bays and harbours.