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Keep Calm and Read the Instructions

Making it look easy. Photo: Bill Ebbesen
Making it look easy. Photo: Bill Ebbesen

This edition of All At Sea has something for everyone who loves the Caribbean and watersports. Yacht racing, cruising, fishing, navigation, rallies, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) and more. I have to admit that SUP has me baffled. In the past, whenever I saw someone paddling a windsurfer without a mast through a group of anchored yachts, my first thought was they were up to no good and I would stare at them until they went away. Now it seems that everyone is standing up to do their thing on a paddleboard and I’m thinking of giving it a try. I mean, if it’s good enough for winning America’s Cup Skipper Jimmy Spithill and his Antiguan sidekick Shannon Falcone, then it’s time to get with the program. You can read about the exploits of these two winning sailors at the BVI Painkiller Cup. And remember to keep your eye on the horizon for paddleboarders over the next few months, especially wobbly ones, it could be me.

Technology waits for no man and that is obvious with all the new electronic gadgetry to be found on even the most modest of boats these days. And keeping up with these advances can be a daunting task. Although most manufacturers have improved their instruction booklets, making them easier to understand and less brain-numbing than user guides of the past, they are still a minefield for the technically challenged. Of course, if you are at the stage where you are opening the box of your new electronic wizardry, the chances are you know what it does and are happy to dig through the half-a-dead tree-in-the-plastic-bag for the installation instructions, while at the same time reaching for the wire crimpers. However, as a discussion with a fellow customer at my local chandlery proves, not all of us actually know what some of the new gadgets do or at least are capable of. For instance, Automatic Identification Systems (AIS). Our technical writer Glenn Hayes discusses the pros and cons of various types of AIS, a piece of kit that some say, given a choice, they would buy instead of radar.

The weight of command can weigh heavy on one’s shoulders and anyone in charge of a watercraft of any kind will find they have to make some serious decisions, often quickly. Saying “No!” can be the hardest decision of all, especially if it means another uncomfortable night on a bumpy sea when a quiet port lies close at hand. In place of his usual humorous musings, this month Cap’n Fatty Goodlander turns a gnarly weather eye on the serious business of decision making at sea. Having completed two circumnavigations and with a third underway, Fatty has made thousands of decisions while on the briny. The sea has a way of quickly showing you if the decision made was the right one. As Fatty points out, sometimes the right decision is an emphatic: “NO.”

March, glorious March. Spring is in the air, seas are blue, beaches shimmer golden in the sun and yachting season is in full swing. Not only is our quest to bring you the best of what’s happening around the Caribbean each month, All At Sea encourages everyone to go out and experience all the amazing things our region has to offer. If you’re land bound, then visit a marina, yacht club, or dive center and see if there’s something you might like to try. Speak to people on boats, they love to talk and answer questions and perhaps that will encourage you to take the first step into water sports. If you are on a boat, then spend more time ashore exploring the wonders and natural beauty of our islands. Talk to the locals; learn about their rich heritage, history and culture.

Having fun? Share your stories with All At Sea, tell us where you are, what you are doing, what you are enjoying and why. We want to hear from you! Email: [email protected]


See you on the water!
Gary E. Brown, Editor


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