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Sailing with Charlie: August Sailing Boxes

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Mocka Jumbies and Rum...

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Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

Have you noticed how many boxes are sailing in Caribbean waters these days. There are big ones, little ones, giant ones, cheap ones and expensive ones. Charlie was pretty adamant the other day when he said, ‘There’s one thing they all have in common – they’re just so damn ugly.’ Of course, beauty is subjective and the more you see of these boxes the more your values become thwarted and standards lowered. Before long what was once hideous becomes acceptable. It has taken quite a while for catamarans to become accepted as viable sailboats. In the 70s most sailors ‘wouldn’t be seen dead on such an abomination.’ The yachts to be admired were those classics like the Endeavour, Ranger or Velsheda with elegant sheer, fine craftsmanship, marlinspike ropework, sparkling brightwork, polished brass – and when the rail dips on a close reach, feel the magic.

But can you make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? In this case the answer is yes, but in a different 21st century way. As soon as you step aboard the latest square sailing box you’ll notice the state-of-the-art high tech hydraulic ramp holding the dinghy. With push button ease the ramp is raised or lowered and when your personal taxi (dinghy) has been shoved off, a large sitting area is available for splashing your feet in the water while enjoying a favorite tropical cocktail. At night, a full array of colored lights, often strobing between pink, blue, green and purple will attract inquisitive fish eliciting excited shouts like ‘look, a shark’! A patient first mate will explain that not every large fish is a shark.

The spacious dining area (too big to be called a cockpit), is large and comfortable with cushions and pillows everywhere and ambient lighting throwing romantic shadows. There’s easy access to the galley (kitchen). Inside the main salon, water usage is not restricted because water makers are now standard. Food processors, blenders, coffee machines, Margarita makers, toasters, even bread-makers are in common use with the readily available generator. Air conditioning goes without saying and is especially appreciated in the large en-suite cabins where even the toilets are flushed with fresh water. Unlimited hot showers in spacious stalls are the norm and the bedrooms are fitted with screens for computer or online movies with WiFi a standard amenity. Sometimes large screens are rolled out in the cockpit or foredeck for family viewing.   

Other extremely desirable features include shallow draft, trampolines, deck spaces with comfy mattresses on the bridge deck and forward. 

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For the crew, electric winches for sheets and halyards are standard and the anchor can be deployed from the helm station. Chart plotters, auto pilot, VHF and instruments are available from below or at the helm. Dual engine controls make maneuvering a breeze. It’s push button magic!

Charlie is amazed. People will rent a plush square box, be served lobster or Beef Wellington, a good bottle or three, a great sail and a view of a palm fringed beach. There are plenty of one percenters out there with lots of disposable cash.

But here’s the difference: the really hot Brazilian bikini babes will be hovering around the classic beauty. Those on the square sailing box will be looking on in envy.  

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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