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Seasons in the Sun

Apart from the occasional hurricane to remind us that the Caribbean does have a season, weather in the islands is pretty much the same year round. Yes, we do get the odd chilly night in winter when the temperature drops to a freezing 75 degrees and old hands dig out their sweaters before trooping off to moan about the weather at Happy Hour, but generally one month is pretty much like the next. What defines the seasons more than the weather is the mass departure of yachts, especially the megayachts, to the summer cruising grounds of Europe and North America. Their return in late autumn traditionally marks the start of the yachting season, but even this is beginning to blur. Here in St. Martin, some of the big boats returned from Europe early this year. Uncertainties over the euro along with rising costs around the Mediterranean are just a couple of reasons being quoted, by yacht crews, for their early return. Caribbean marinas will certainly welcome this development and hopefully go all-out to build on this windfall. Having the yachts arrive early can drop a large chunk of change into an island’s economy. If the Caribbean yachting industry as a whole can blur the end of the yachting season, too, then the benefits to the region could be enormous. How to do it successfully and consistently, that is the question?

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One of my favorite items in All At Sea is Natural World. We have some excellent contributors who every month share their knowledge and help us understand what is happening on this amazing rock we call earth. In this edition Joe Zentner takes us into the magical world of the Caribbean seahorse. I have been fascinated by this creature since I had two tiny glass seahorses as a child. Even when my brother broke off the tails, I still treasured them for the way the light flickered through the colored glass and brought them  to life. What I didn’t know back then was it is the male seahorse that gives birth and that each of their eyes can rotate independently from the other. I have never wanted to give birth but rotating eyes, well, there’s a thing!

 

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A lot happened on the Caribbean yachting scene over the course of 2011 in both cruising and racing.

Any time that you venture on the sea, there is bound to be some form of excitement. Experiences can be life-changing, often frightening, and at times beautiful, and this year had it all.

In January 15-year-old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker departed St. Maarten aboard her 36ft Gin Fizz ketch Guppy having earlier crossed the Atlantic from the Canary Islands. Dekker is hoping to become the youngest person to complete a single-handed circumnavigation and as of going to print, she had crossed the Pacific and was still going strong. In April the raft An-Tiki, built of water pipes and crewed by four adventurers raising money for the charity WaterAid, arrived in the Caribbean. April also saw the tragic loss of Tom and Dotty Hill’s popular 75ft grand prix racing yacht Titan XV, which was destroyed by an electrical fire during Antigua Race Week. These are all things that made world headlines and focused attention on the Caribbean. For me, one of the abiding memories of 2011 will be the success of our young sailors, not just in regional competition but internationally. Every month brought news of spectacular triumphs in junior sailing, and All At Sea offers congratulations to the youngsters who did so well.  Congratulations also go to the sailors’ parents, trainers and yacht clubs without whose encouragement, dedication and cash much of their success wouldn’t have happened. We look forward to reporting on youth sailing in the coming year.

The All At Sea Team wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season and smooth sailing in 2012.

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