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In the Caribbean, It’s Politically Correct to Yo Ho Ho

Although not completely a thing of the past, people are now more likely to hunt whales with a camera than a harpoon. This month, writer Katie Gutteridge joins a whale watching safari in the Turks & Caicos and offers some practical tips for those lucky enough to encounter a whale while sailing.

The chances of coming across a whale while navigating through the islands of the Caribbean Sea are more likely than you think, especially in the winter months. I love seeing whales at sea and my wife and I have had some amazing encounters. Most have them have been distant sightings but on one voyage, heading south from the Bahamas, a humpback whale, longer than our boat, swam alongside for many minutes before sounding, leaving us with the overpowering smell of ‘whale breath’ and our hearts thumping against our ribs. While single-handing across the Atlantic, I watched in awe as pod of killer whales followed in my wake. (I tried to convince myself they were false killer whales but without success.) Whales are out there, keep your eyes open, and always shout “Thar she blows” when you see one.

 

Humpback whales are mammals that must surface to breathe. Photo: OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP) 
Humpback whales are mammals that must surface to breathe. Photo: OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP)

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Safety at sea is a subject never far from the pages of the yachting press and All At Sea is no exception. On a recent visit to Surf Expo, a board sports and beach/resort lifestyle trade show in Orlando, Florida, our technical writer Glenn Hayes was shown the latest in personal flotation devices designed for use in water sports. Lifejackets, especially the traditional type, can be uncomfortable to wear especially for those taking part in sports such as water skiing, stand up paddleboarding, canoeing and kite surfing, to name a few.

The children’s version of the Lifeshirt. Photo: Glenn Hayes
The children’s version of the Lifeshirt. Photo: Glenn Hayes

In his article, Hayes describes the new generation of mini, inflatable lifesaving devices that can be worn on the belt or around the wrist. Hayes stresses that the new devices are not designed as a substitute for a lifejacket, but walk down any Caribbean or Florida beach and you will see people enjoying water sports without wearing a lifejacket and what’s more they have no intention of doing so. These mini-inflatables might fill the gap and save a life.

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The holiday season is upon us and the Caribbean is gearing up to make it one to remember. Lighted Boat Parades are increasingly popular and folks now go to inordinate lengths to dress their yachts with a multitude of colored lights. Parties over the holidays, especially on New Year’s Eve, have always been crazy and seem to have got even crazier. Yes, I’ve done the rounds … skinny dipping at midnight, drinking rum and falling over, singing and carousing and waking up on a strange boat or under a palm tree with a bottle in one hand and a Santa hat perched at a jaunty angle on my aching head.

One Christmas in the Canary Islands, while waiting to sail across the Atlantic, I was dragged off to church by a group of fellow cruisers who were worried about my heathen soul. The experience was wonderful and I remember the powerful voices of the choir sending Christmas carols echoing into the vaulted ceiling and thinking there and then I could become a believer.

In this edition, you will find stories about Christmas in the islands. Perhaps it is no longer PC to talk of Christmas but at All At Sea we embrace the spirit of freedom still found in the lovely Caribbean, a place of many nationalities and numerous beliefs. A place where the weather is beautiful, the beers are always cold and it’s okay to wish someone compliments of the festive season and a life of peace and joy.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST 
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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