Dear Compass Readers,
Letters may be
edited for length, clarity and fair play.
HOW SAILING HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE
Dear Caribbean Compass,
I am very thankful for your interest in how sailing affected my life and future career. I believe that what you do is amazing. This article [“Following Blanca y Antonio” in Y2A by Ellen Birrell, in the January 2018 issue of Caribbean Compass] may help many to realize the importance of a child’s future, it will influence society to stand up for one another to make a difference, and will help those who are struggling with the same situation to overcome it.
I am currently completely focused on my studies as it is my last year of high school; as you know this is really important. I still try to sail as often as I can and also compete on team sports at my school.
Given the amazing opportunity to compete in sailing for my country at an international level taught me very valuable life lessons that I incorporate daily. As 2017 is coming to a close, my whole focus is on obtaining a full scholarship to an international university where I can pursue both my academic and sailing careers. I dream of being a doctor and then becoming a plastic surgeon.
With regard to my sailing career, I want to race in international championships; I love racing and know that I would always put my 110 percent into every race. I want to be coached to become the best and I feel very confident that I will be a valuable asset on any team. My home life the past couple of years has been complicated and difficult but thanks to my sailing club, beautiful Belizeans and great friends’ support, many issues have been resolved and now I am in a better place to focus on my studies and betterment.
A big thank-you once more for your support and I send my love from Belize.
ANCHOR BUOYS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY TRUTH
Dear Caribbean Compass,
In my experience there are only one or two instances that I have observed when deploying an anchor buoy is a reasonable option. This would include use by single-handed sailors or use in very gnarly and rocky bottoms where an anchor could easily get stuck.
In crowded anchorages, a buoy can be a hindrance rather than an advantage to other cruisers who are trying to find a safe spot to drop the hook. In these tight anchorages we can’t all enjoy full swinging room, so it is inevitable that someone else’s boat will be over your anchor some of the time. Relax. It will not be a problem unless you leave before them, and then it may only take waiting for the right conditions, or communicating your intentions beforehand if you are planning to leave during the night.
It seems somewhat arrogant to expect others to respect your anchor by deploying a buoy when not enough room is available for everyone to do the same. In the increasingly popular Eastern Caribbean anchorages, this is typically the norm — there are more boats than most of us are comfortable with, but we manage by being respectful and patient and communicating our intentions.
The really ugly side of anchor buoys is something most users are either not aware of, or they feel the odds are small enough to ignore the risk. Firstly, your props or rudders could snag your own buoy on a calm night as your boat drifts lazily over your anchor, and if the wind picks up, could quite easily drag your anchor along directly underneath you on a one-to-one scope. The outcome of this happening could be catastrophic, and it has happened on numerous occasions.
Secondly, and even more dangerous, is the snagging by another boat’s props as it powers over your unseen anchor buoy at night. This recently happened to us on a busy, noisy night in Fort de France, Martinique. We were the innocent boat anchored a “safe” distance off the port bow of a large ketch when it suddenly started to move quickly toward our starboard side at an angle of 45 degrees, heading directly towards our midships, the large bowsprit an ominous battering ram. Neither we nor the owners of the ketch had any idea what was causing the two boats to come together. The offending catalyst of the event was discovered a few seconds later when a local power boat appeared alongside our port side with the crew shouting at us and pushing against our hull with their feet to ward us off. They mistakenly thought that our chain was fouled in their prop. But after closer examination it turned out that the ketch had deployed an anchor buoy and the connecting line had been snagged by the power boat as it crossed in front of us, dragging the ketch's 40-kilo anchor out, and continued on its way, arcing around us before hitting our hull and bringing all three boats together, also fouling all our bottom tackle with the ketch’s to the point that it could only be untangled the next morning by putting a diver down. Needless to say, damage was done, mostly to the stomach and ribs of a friend who was sitting on the coach roof of our boat as he bravely positioned himself as a human fender to ward of the invading bowsprit.
The other good news is that it appears that after spending six years in the Caribbean, the use of anchor buoys seems to be on the decrease, although this may just be positive thinking.
TAKE CARE WHEN SWIMMING OFF YOUR BOAT
Dear Caribbean Compass,
When you're anchored in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten; Jolly Harbour, Antigua; Gosier, Guadeloupe; Les Saintes; Portsmouth, Dominica; Ste. Anne, Martinique; Rodney Bay, St. Lucia or anywhere else boats congregate, take great care whenever swimming off your boat or diving on your anchor.
Jet-ski operators, whether untrained tourists or experienced PWC owners, will zoom too close to your boat at maximum speeds.
This isn’t a rant about those “devil jet-skis” because fishing pirogues and water taxis do it, too.
Even cruisers’ dinghies will often pass by your boarding ladder just a few metres away. We’ve all seen fast RIB dinghies filled with people — but where’s the driver? Those passengers have blocked forward visibility for the driver in the stern while engaged in conversation, so they are often not looking forward.
Many of these folks seem to have little or no concept of the danger they present to swimmers.
But you do!
When we dive on our anchor in busy bays we try to either escort the snorkeler with the dinghy and a driver, or keep a sharp watch while standing at the bow with a loud air horn, ready to sound a warning.
Ken and Lynn
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