Aside from the previously mentioned differences in weather whilst sailing in the caribbean one thing that stands out in memory is that the ‘roads’ are backwards.
Once in the carribbean one is essentially in american ‘airspace’ what this means is that: you need dollars, all sorts of bits of paper work to mean you don’t get deported and you need to remember that on the other side of the atlantic bouyage (the roads of the sea) are backwards.
Whilst on the subject of world sailing one thing which does annoy me all over the world is customs. I feel for the sake of posterity that it is worth mentioning that it is all customs, any and all customs, not just any one in particular.
Now I’m not expecting to arrive in a new country to a five star hotel, but I think something that reminds me of a holding pen is a little bit lacking. If the customs people are not going to go all out and try to make an effort to welcome me and everybody else to what ever country it is then let me give some advice:
How about you don’t take a break just as I arrive, then take five minuets to explain that you’re on a break, then disappear for however long, leaving me and the crew in a little room lacking windows.
Basically something akin to a cell.
Making me feel like they (customs) are trying to say: Hey! welcome to our country! But, we not sure about you so, here’s a holding cell and were going to assume you shouldn’t be here, and that you’re getting deported soon. So no sofa, or magazine, or coffee, or anything.
Like a cup of coffee and david attenborogh on t.v. and I would be happily sat there all day.
Customs holding cell it is.
Couldn’t even throw in a pot plant.
Any way, apart from my disappointment of customs lack of taste world wide, and then the general frustrations of having to use customs. There is one thing that I want to leave you with and it is a bit more useful if you’re sailing.
When in america (and nearby) the buoyage for lateral markers (channel markers, i.e. the ‘roads’ of the sea) are the same but reversed. One way round in europe, and the same but reversed in america.
This to me seems odd, but more practically a potential issue for safe navigating.
I started sailing when I was young and as such certain things (like which way round the lateral marks should be) get ingrained the mind, until one just doesn’t think about them anymore.
Suddenly there I am sailing along through a narrow gap between two sharp, jagged and rocky reefs half way to a panic attack because (to me) the boat is the wrong side of channel marker, meaning we were out side the channel and therefore sailing into the reef.
Its just a very unnerving experience that I thought I would share with you because whilst it is part of the icc syllabus and day skipper and yachtmaster, meaning that you will learn the facts about the IALA A and IALA B, the reality had me stood there questioning what my eyes where telling me.
But it all worked out alright in the end, no boats where wrecked in my trip to the carribean!
And neither were any pot plants admired in waiting rooms or coffee enjoyed whilst waiting for clearance.