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Real Sailors Smile and Carry a Mangle

Although All At Sea is very much a Caribbean magazine, like the ocean, it touches many shores. April is the month that many sailors prepare to move from their winter cruising grounds. Some sailors will remain in the Caribbean (where they can read All At Sea) and simply move south to spend the summer around Grenada and Trinidad. Other yachts will sail west to cruise the coast of Central America before transiting the Panama Canal into the Pacific, while many will head for North America or Europe. In this edition we offer several informative articles written by sailors who have made similar voyages and who now want to share their knowledge with others. One article is about transiting the Panama Canal. I was shocked at the cost but, like my wife said, it sure beats going to windward around Cape Horn.

Talking about going to windward, there'll be plenty of that over the next few months during the numerous Caribbean regattas. As we are blessed with the best sailing conditions in the world, sitting on the windward rail isn't such a chore, the water that trickles down your neck is warm and it soon dries. If you are on the windward rail and one of our famous marine photographers comes by in a dinghy or helicopter then don't look so glum, when sailing in the Caribbean, smiles are compulsory.

Recently I was conducting an interview next to the Simpson Bay Bridge in St. Maarten. The interview finished at the same time as the bridge opened so I joined the crowd on the deck of the St. Maarten Yacht Club to watch the boats go by. How times have changed. Gone are the cluttered decks, jerry cans, dogs, lobster pots, kids, diapers and other interesting junk hanging from the guardrails and rigging. What happened to all the good stuff we used to carry when we went offshore? Be honest, when was the last time you saw a mangle on deck? And don't laugh, I sailed on a boat that had one. The mangle sat alongside a rusting bicycle that one day tangled in the tail of the mainsail halyard and shot to the masthead when the gaff sail was let drop at the run! Now decks are empty, bare, no sign of character. Some new racing and cruising boats have gone a step further by running their lines through openings in the deck. It might look nice but it sure takes the fun out of carrying a bicycle.

Fair winds and safe sailing.

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