Sima, Paul and Hugh
04/22/2008, Montego Bay, Jamaica
We spent some time sailing along the north coast of Jamaica with Sima’s friend Hugh. We traveled from Port Antonio in the Northeast to Negril in the West. Hugh was good enough to send us a note to add to our blog, which we set forth below. A couple of comments before you start reading. First, Hugh’s dry wit is just as funny in person as comes through here. Second, we didn’t pay Hugh anything before he wrote this (Hugh, the check is now in the mail.). Third, Hugh is a more-than-able sailor, and we learned a ton from him about sail trim. Fourth, if you find any part of this to lack wit, read it again. Sometimes, like those old comics in Punch magazine, it takes a second to rise to the British sense of humor.
So, here’s Hugh’s note:
Guest blogger: Barely Able Seaman Lloyd-Jukes
Time to visit Jamaica, folks!
She’s best toured by sea: many of the roads are in very poor condition and Frigate birds don’t offer you “ganja”, “cocaine”, “skunk”, “ecstasy”, “weed”, “the good white stuff”, “marijuana”, “pills” and more – unlike Jamaican cab drivers, store owners, tourist boat operators, loafers or security guards.
Furthermore, the drama of the island is best seen from 3-5 miles offshore: white sand beaches fenced in only by palm trees fronted by clear, clear water and backdropped by the majestic blue mountains sweeping up precipitately.
How to see all this? I recommend my approach: pass yourself off as a sailor and hoodwink the skipper of a large passing yacht into having you on board for a fortnight. Once on board, bear in mind a few key tips: (1) you will drop stuff over board so try to choose cheaper kit (2) nothing’s really cheap on a yacht (3) everything has a home in a yacht – usually one requiring a unique and intricate manoeuvre to access and secure the item – so it’s worth packing a memory better than mine.
Yacht selection is important. You’re best off with a large yacht with a secure and comfortable motion which handles the Caribbean’s gusty conditions and lumpy headland swells well. Also, look for a skipper and mate who know exactly what they’re about but are tolerant of the odd lubberly error and mad keen to have a good time.
This approach + red stripe, rum cocktails, Jerk anything and the occasional cuban cigar is guaranteed to provide a top notch adventure – as it did for me!
We loved having Hugh onboard. Not only is he a really good, funny guy, but, unlike us, he actually has sailing experience! He was keen on trimming the sails to squeeze out that extra half knot, and actually wanted to be on watch when we did long sails along the coast. His experience dinghy racing came in handy as we spent an afternoon experimenting with heavy-weather handling in a stiff breeze.
The other thing about Hugh is that he works, very hard! The man did not hesitate to roll his sleeves up as soon as he arrived on the boat, and worked! He helped us wax the deck, he helped us sand and varnish the teak, he lashed fuel jugs before departure, and he became the mosquito net guy, setting about at dusk every evening to cover the hatches and the cockpit with our ingenious mosquito net, courtesy of previous owner Les.
But most importantly, he was just such good company. Paul and he went for runs whenever the stifling heat allowed, and actually on many days when it didn’t. An easy soul to feed, he loved my cooking and was generous with compliments. It was wonderful chatting about everything and anything over rum, beer, wine, and late-night cigars.