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HomeAntigua and BarbudaAntiguaJol Byerley's Jun 05 Letter From Antigua

Jol Byerley’s Jun 05 Letter From Antigua

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I seem to remember that from the Virgin Islands to Grenada
we used to sail around on charter the whole winter with never a worry about the
weather. I don’t suppose that I am the only person to notice how different things
have become over the last four or five years. These days, it’s quite normal for
there to be periods of stronger winds and, even more likely, longer periods of
light weather with even, variable winds making it hard to find any west coast
anchorage along the islands. Quite a few skippers have resorted to calling us
by telephone to ask what the hell is happening! All I can think of is that
Captain Fatty has brought it upon us from the other side of the world.

One of the great
things about the recent Classic Regatta here in Antigua is the parade of
Classics in English Harbour. Well over half the competitors join in, and Judy
and I do our best to make it interesting for all, by having little cards
printed with the boats’ particulars, so that I can babble on about them over
the microphone. Many people wonder why the parade is necessary, especially the
competitors. But if they themselves could see it, I promise them that they
would be just as excited as everyone else. Some of the craft are well over a hundred
feet, such as the schooner Windrose and the J Boats, and some are tiny
little things of no more than 30 feet. But their owners and crews seem to be
really proud to take part in this fabulous event.

Both English
Harbour and Falmouth are emptying out at this time of year and soon things will
be very quiet. However, I hope to tell you in the next edition all about the
plans for the summer months and our defenses against hurricanes. I can’t help
remembering that for most of the time we chartered, dangerous hurricanes were
an unknown possibility. But from 1989, and Hurricane Hugo, there have been
rather a lot of the damn things. I believe it to be time for several things to
happen. Firstly, that boat yards, and places where boats are laid up for summer
time protection, give extreme thought as to how they will handle the vessels in
their care. If holes or pits are the answer then the boat yards must respond.
Local insurance companies should become more interested in covering the vessels
that are staying in their islands and in suitably protected places. Thirdly,
just think about all the vessels that are covered by their insurance companies
on the east coast of the United States. I know for a fact that these boats
don’t have to hustle down to Trinidad! Insurance companies are doing their best
to help. But the tragedy of last year in Grenada and St Martin in 1995 must
never again happen in the Caribbean. Why can’t this horrible possibility be
avoided by representatives of the insurance companies and owners, as well as
boat yard management, all meeting together on each island to discuss it? And
then act appropriately. Maybe owners could write to All at Sea with
their own suggestions…

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