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Romance and the Art of Going Off Half-Cocked

It’s not always this tranquil on the committee boat!
It’s not always this tranquil on the committee boat!

The islands of the Caribbean have always attracted people who march to a different drummer. It is easy to see why the islands are such a magnet for those seeking a different life, an adventure, a place to escape. Perhaps it is not as easy in the 21st Century to live the freewheeling lifestyle so cherished by those of us lucky enough to make the islands our home, but there are still people out there who are willing to give it a try and some are making a good job of it. Recently, an artist has taken up residence close to where I live. His home is a tiny sampan covered by a delicately painted curved shelter that keeps out the sun and rain. I often see the artist sitting on the beach working at his miniature easel painting delicate watercolors. Where he came from, I have no idea, but he is living the dream. Over the last few months we have featured quite a few stories about adventurers who have embraced the watery Caribbean lifestyle and I am delighted that we continue to do so. This month our adventurers couldn’t be more different. One story features a young couple who are in love and cruising, and their tale of romance and the sea is one which I hope will inspire others to follow in their wake (Keep it Simple – Young, In Love, and Floating on a Dream). The second of our ‘human interest’ stories is rather more swashbuckling and with a subtle nod to the way things were in the Caribbean in the 1960s and ‘70s (David Wegman: High Seas Wanderer). The story features David Wegman, an artist/adventurer whose exploits could provide the lyrics for many a Jimmy Buffett song, and perhaps have!

Our own exploits on the water continue and in May we entered G-String in the Anguilla regatta. It was not our finest hour. As a cruiser, I am a stickler for preparation but somehow the spirit of the chase clouded my judgment and we went off half-cocked. The wonder of it is that as the problems began to pile up from race to race, we still had a huge amount of fun. Something I learned as a racing skipper is just how much goes into running a regatta. This might sound strange coming from someone whose life more or less revolves around reporting on sailing events, but seeing it from a competitor’s perspective was quite an eye-opener. While reporting from the press boat, especially when taking photographs, I admit to having little interest in what is happening on the water until the five minute warning for the first race. That changes when you are a competitor. As a competitor you have a far more intimate relationship with the committee boat and race officers. You are part of it. You see the hard work that goes into preparing the course, especially in shifty wind conditions when last minute adjustments to the pin are made to ensure a decent start line. Then there are the other marks that have to be placed and maintained. And although there are time limits to races (we barely made it), how race officers happily sit aboard a small boat in what can amount to a half-gale while race boats have fun thrashing around a course, lovingly provided for them by the said battered officials, beats me. There is in the Caribbean a genuine love of the sport of sailboat racing and as the season winds down and officials put away their flags and plotters, I want to take this opportunity to offer them a salute of gratitude.

In this issue, Cap’n Fatty Goodlander describes how he his haunted by the ghost of Carlotta (Returning to the Scene of the Crime), the boat he lost to hurricane Hugo. His moving tribute to a special boat is worlds apart from the humorous articles we have come to expect and goes to confirm just why Fatty is one of the most popular maritime writers today. As we went to press, the Goodlanders were setting out on their third circumnavigation. All At Sea will continue to publish the adventures of Cap’n Fatty and Carolyn, and the entire team wish them a safe voyage of discovery.

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