Monday, April 6th, 2009
We are under way the 200 miles from Anguilla for Dominica, just now off the island of Nevis. The Picton Castle is braced sharp up on the port tack with royals stowed in these fresh and warm winds. We had NNE head winds heading up, now we have ESE head winds headed down islands – the curse of having a destination! But the sky at dawn is pretty, the crew are getting pretty good at sailing “by the wind” now, which is pretty tricky and demanding, so all is good. Just got buzzed by a Dutch patrol plane piloted by a friend of an ex-PC Crew. They called and said hi.
So our visiting boat-builder Professor Flemming has headed home from Anguilla. It was great to have him along. He is a great teacher. He got our wooden boat carpentry gang started on planking and caulking this old 15′ Grenada skiff in frame, which we got for the express purpose of teaching something about wooden boatbuilding. And the Grenadines and all the islands are just as sweet as ever.
I don’t understand those that bemoan the Caribbean, how it’s all gone now and “not the same”. These islands are as awesome as ever (mostly) and in many ways, to my way of thinking, even better. Provisioning is better, mechanics are better, supplies are better, communications are better, shipping is better and being truly in a period well past the colonial days, islanders are better off, well educated, well travelled and warmly welcoming. Sure, it would be nice if development on a few of the islands was a bit less and that there were more island schooners around and all that old folksy charm was fully intact, but then the same could be said of Lunenburg and pretty much any other place. It ain’t over in the islands, dey plenty cool man.
That said, St Martin is quite a buzzing extension of France/Florida/Holland and Anguilla is in a condo development frenzy spilling over from St Martin that is a bit hard to see. It was a bit of a fright actually, although my guess would be that the brakes are on such speculative development for the time being anyway. But don’t get me wrong, we had plenty of good times in Anguilla at the Moonsplash Reggae Festival. Sandy Ground, Road Bay is fine. Great beaches, nice folks, lots of music. Now we are bound south again to the delightfully enchanting Dominica.
So a decision is taken, we will attend the Antigua Classic Regatta. We will distribute our crew among the fleet of big cool schooners and gaffers and the like and let the Picton Castle sit out the competition unless they come up with a square-rigger class. This Classic race series will be fun and very instructional for our crew who have learned so much that can’t even tell. Getting on other large sailing vessels for a couple days will tell a great deal.
Then when the racing and hoopla is over we will sail off to anchor in some obscure, aquamarine palm-fringed cove and retreat to a roadside chicken shack for a very cold drink and some hot and tasty barbeque chicken right off the grill. We will sit on odd-scrap plank benches in the shade under a big tamarind or breadfruit tree and keep on keeping on and look at our fine ship out in the cove.