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Don’t Sing No Boatyard Blues!

Long-term boatyard blues. Photo: OceanMedia

September and it’s time for our annual look at ‘what’s new’ around our Caribbean boatyards and spotlight the facilities that are upping their game.

Happily, it seems like they all are and that is wonderful news for those about to lift their prize possession from its natural element and see it dragged like a beached whale onto the land. Our own boat has been yard-bound since she was damaged by hurricane Gonzalo and is now surrounded by boats stored and lashed down for hurricane season.

How I envy those who manage to complete the work during a three-day haulout and have nothing to do on launch day but fret over whether the antifouling has had enough time to cure.

Our haulouts always start with good intentions but usually end up with the entire contents of the boat stacked on the ground while we take apart half the interior. Our best haulouts were not haulouts at all but dry-outs.

Sailing in areas with a big tidal range allows you to lean your boat against a wall and then, as the tide ebbs, get under the hull and slap on the paint. Laying against a wall is not without risk. Boats have been known to fall over and many a skipper has miscalculated the tides and found himself neaped … that is stuck against the wall and unable to float off until the next spring tide!  We once dried out for three nights against a wall opposite a fish and chip shop and busy pub at a seaside town in England. What we found on deck and in the cockpit in the mornings beggars description.

In addition to our boatyard feature we have articles about boat, dinghy and engine maintenance aimed at those who choose to do their own work instead of leaving it to the yard. Even our regular columnist and serial circumnavigator Cap’n Fatty Goodlander gets in on the act and instead of his usual wry humor, Fatty takes an in-depth look at diesel engines and how to keep them running sweetly year after year.

Long-term boatyard blues. Photo: OceanMedia

While yachts in the Caribbean bake under the summer sun, elsewhere in the cold waters of the North Atlantic records are being smashed. The latest by the Supermaxi Comanche. Owned by Jim and Kristy Clark, and built with record-breaking in mind, Comanche set a new monohull transatlantic record of 5 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes and 25 seconds. An amazing time that smashed the previous record by 1 day, 3 hours, 31 minutes and 14 seconds.

Records such as this don’t come easy. Six years in the planning, Comanche had been on standby for a number of weeks waiting for optimum conditions to slingshot across the Atlantic. Managing a fluid rota of over 30 world class sailors on standby, primed to be ready at a moment’s notice. On Thursday July 22nd the weather window they had been waiting for opened promising fast conditions with strong winds, great angles and flat seas all the way to Europe. Navigator Stan Honey alongside skipper Ken Read, agreed it was the time to go.

The course was from New York to the south west tip of England, the traditional route for an Atlantic record attempt.

No doubt we’ll be hearing more from Comanche, and from the other record-breaker Phaedo³ the trimaran that set the Caribbean racing circuit on fire last season.

Record-setting/record-breaking might not give everyone the same thrill but I think it’s wonderful to see these machines, crewed by men and women of stout heart, streaking across the world’s oceans.

With luck, some of these record-breakers will visit the Caribbean, adding another vibrant ingredient to the sailing scene.

See you on the water!

Gary E. Brown, Editor



Every month Gary records a podcast.  The podcast is available on iTunes or you can download it to your mp3 player, tablet or computer by following the links on our websites: allatsea.net and: garyebrown.net/audiovideo.html

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