Friday, May 4, 2012

Another great week in Antigua and Barbuda

 The Classic regatta week was hard on us - party every day, a lot of friends, so there was rarely a dull moment. Here is what our friend George from sailboat Wild Thing (Beneteau 47, yeah!) wrote about it - it is very funny, and he let me post it here.

For those of you who do not have a $10 million, 120' wooden yacht that you move to the Caribbean from Europe or Newport for the winter, you have most likely never heard of Classic  Race Week.  Google it for the complete rundown on ridiculously expensive restored yachts that are sailed only two or three times a year.

There must have been 30 of these exquisitely beautiful yachts tied up to the dock.  Miles and miles of perfectly varnished teak trim and stone scrubbed teak decks. Workers flown in from the States to polish the stainless Steel. Inflatable fenders with soft cloth coverings of a color that matches the ship's hull perfectly.  Someone is writing some big checks !

The owners and all of their friends fly in and go sail in "races"  which are more of a parade and photo op than a race.  On board film crews and a photographer in a helicopter abound.

This is way beyond the Blue Blazer Yacht Club crowd.  These folks may belong to the New Your YC, but the bring their own entourage of crew, chefs, musicians and a few anointed friends. Did I say musicians? Yes, it is hard to find a quartet of woodwinds in Antigua for your on deck dockside party. Ego's abound.

Strolling the docks we saw beautiful boat after beautiful boat, such as the "Rebecca"  (possibly named after Becky Henry??) and the Elena, both shown in pictures.  These are just two of the 30+ classic yachts at the docks.

In the midst of this fleet of glistening boats docked in this sea of snobbery and rich sophistication, we came across my favorite classic race week entry, "Old Bob".  It turns out that Old Bob is a race week regular.  Old Bob is a classic ferrocement hull(*1), painted mustard yellow with barn yard red trim.  No teak, and not a drop of varnish anywhere.  Old Bob is a floating satire of everything that is absurd about Classic Race week.

(*1) Ferris Cement Hull defined. Ferro comes from the Greek word Ferro who was the god of rust. In yachting terms, Ferro means any iron based metal that will dissolve into a pile of rust when it comes into contact with salt water.

Cement is a well known dense substance that does not float in water. Commonly used in the boating industry to make mooring anchors. Cement tends to crack as it ages. "Ages"  means anytime during or after the 3 day hardening process.

During WW II, the US Government built merchant ships out of ferrocement because the construction was cheap, and the ships were just slow moving targets for German U Boats. So why waste steel on ships that not going to be afloat for very long?

They dubbed these boats "Liberty Ships".  Evidently the government felt that being in the ocean after your ship has sunk is a very liberating experience.

The ships were not very strong.  Some of them even broke in half sitting at the dock. There is a half sunk Liberty Ship in the Bahamas south of Bimini.  They make wonderful artificial reefs.

Way back in the 1970's, some back yard boat builders made sailboats out of ferrocement because the construction was cheap and required materials that could be stolen from any local construction site.  No need to go to the local lumber yard, much less to an expensive marine store.  Just search the neighborhood for some rusty re-bar and a few bags of Portland cement.

Building the hull was laborious, but not too technically challenging, because there were no rules or codes to follow.  They were just building an above ground swimming pool that was more or less shaped like a boat. Once the hull was finished (somewhere around year 3 of the project), the builder was then faced with the daunting tasks of finishing out the inside and deck of the boat.  90% of the time, this is where the project ended.  The hull sitting in some guy's back yard collecting rain water and growing lily pads. A home for frogs.

But then there is Old Bob.  A true enigma.  One of only a hand full of ferrocement hulls that were ever finished AND floated.  And then sailed to Antigua specifically to spoof the Classic Regatta.  I LOVE THIS GUY !!!!.


Rich Guy's Yacht:/                                              Old Bob's Ferris Cement Yacht:

Perfectly Varnished Teak/                               No Varnish and no teak

Paid Delivery crew/                                             Bob

Paid Sailing Crew Flow in/                              Any one with a 6-pack can sail

Crew presented with matching clothes/   Buy an "I sailed on Old
Bob"T-shirt on board

Cloth covers on fenders matches hull/   T-shirts on "female" fenders

Receives a trophy in every race/                Tries not to come in last

Next year I want to sail with Old Bob.

 After the tiring week we sailed to Nonsuch Bay again, to recover.

 After two days we sailed to Barbuda - again through Spithead channel.

 We had some nice sailing, it only took us 4 and a  half hours. And Barbuda was as beautiful as always.

We had a great time there, we met some new friends and celebrated  Philipine's 5th birthday on the beach - she is French and lives on a boat with her parents. People from almost all boats in anchorage came and it was a great party.

 I tried to take some pictures of many turtles that were swimming around our boat - but they somehow don't want to be photographed. This is the best i got in half an hour :-(

 On Sunday we got back to Antigua for the Sailing week and to meet our friends, Marion and Harald, again. Sailing back was very salty, but fast - only 3 and a half hours from Coco Point to St Johns.

Sailing week was not so very interesting and beautiful as Classic regatta. It was still a great experience, we were on a concert of one of the Bob Marley sons, twice on Shirley Heights on party, once in Trappas, our favorite restaurant nd we spent some time with our American friends, Jan and George and Alice and Steve, our German friends Marion and Harald and our Slovene (!!!) friends, Vesna and Tone. What a week!

Here are some photos from Thursday's race, when we sailed out with Heron to see some action.



Here is the the link to Sailing World  reporting on first day of regatta.

So, now we need another escape to Nonsuch bay to recover a bit from all the action! We are leaving there today. There will be almost no wind for a week, so we'll stay there or maybe do some exploring of the reefs on the north for a while!

1 comment:

  1. Good post. We've posted a similar Antigua and Barbuda profile here: