The Beach

Sun 24 Apr 2011 02:59
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2011 2:00 AM
Subject: The Beach
Tir Na Nog meets lotusland, we all head to the second highest summit to watch Sundayâs sun go down.  200 people in a 18th centuary English garrison chanting and dancing to the beat of a steel drum and another spectacular sunset.  Seconds after, a sperm whale breaches three or four times while some fumble with their cameras.  Rum punch with freshly ground nutmeg is the traditional drink and are so potent that you are forewarned to keep the straw from each cup in your pocket and when you reach four, go home! Apparently the penalty for acquiring twelve straws is; sleeping on a balcony, getting eaten alive by mosquitos and no having recollection of the previous twelve hours.
Reputed to have a beach for every day of the year, Antigua is a spectacular place. With hills and valleys, palm beaches and mangrove rivers and especially Nelsonâs dockyard, a restored 18th century Georgian fort whose walls still stand and was reputedly the last outpost of the British Leeward Island fleet.  Now the officers quarters are home to quaint restaurants and bars.  Furthermore the entire area is a national park and nature reserve. Sitting there, tiny brightly coloured birds flutter about as the fish jump in the harbour.
Arriving in Antigua after my 2500Nm in 23 days. Half-tied up I head down the pier to ogle at some of the other boats and meet Darragh who is just arriving in after a days racing on a Farr 60.  Still in awe of the other yachts we head to Salperton for a couple of celebratory drinks and a bottle of champagne.  With the bubbles now firmly in control itâs time to hit the pubs.  The Caribbean 600 race boats have been arriving in all day and there is an electric party atmosphere.  At 0000 we get a call from Lee Overly Partners, formerly Chieftain, to ask us to come down to the dock to handle some lines.  When they arrive the race organisers bring down 4 cases of beer which are quickly devoured on the dock by the thirsty crew. Back to the bar again and at about 0500, with the party still in full flight, it was clear that I wasnât going to be the last person to leave this party. 
From the first sight of the Maltese Falcon to the last peck on cheek good-bye from a pretty stewardess, the most impressive thing I have seen here are the people of the yachting industry.  All of them beautiful, talented, friendly people.  They go about their work in the extremely professional manner that these boats require while maintaining a fun and chatty persona.  As most are away from their families they seem to make a special effort to support one another at birthdays and holidays.  Somebody bakes a cake, another rallies a party for dinner and drinks.  Everybody seems vital and young,, the Sunday rosà lunches must be preserving them.  The oldest person you are likely to see is a captain or engineer in his mid forties.  They strut along the beaches in their boardies with their aviators on, still ripped and bronzed like Pipeline legends and if you meet one in a bar he could tell you a book load of stories of his comings and goings.