On Saturday 24th Clipper set sail from Port Antonio – on the NE coast of
Jamaica – for New York.
The week’s stay in Jamaica was a pretty eye-opening one for me. I guess
like all places Jamaica has rich + poor parts – the NE corner of the island
most definitely falls into the latter category, but that said it made the
place all the more interesting for being so.
The bit of Jamaica that I saw reminded me of my garden after you come back
from the family holiday in the summer – a barely controlled riot of
vegetation – except that this was tropical in exuberance + species content.
Interspersed throughout this riot of palms + trees is a proliferation of
dilapidated shacks – lower density in the countryside + cheek by jowl in
the towns. You got the strong impression that come the next hurricane
season + some of these picturesque assemblies of wood + crinkly tin (+
sometimes breeze-block) might not make it. I never made it out of the NE
corner of the island – but if asked about the architectural style of the
place I would have to say ‘shack-inspired’ – even the permanent houses
looked like posh shacks.
The people we met were immensely welcoming – and although it might sound a
little tacky I was proud that I was one of the ‘home team’ – they live
their national motto ‘Out of many, one people’.
Our send off on Saturday was another of those heart-swell moments. 12
Clipper 70s, marina flags hoisted, parading in San Antonio’s small bay is
quite an inspiring sight. Then we pealed out of formation, positioned for
the start and our sailing chums once again became temporary foe (well only
for the next week until we reach New York).
We have now been sailing close hauled for the last 2 days and that barely
suppressed sense of nausea/seasickness has yet to leave me. That said I am
glad that once more we are on our way – life on a nautical roller-coaster
is the best way to describe it, back to life at a steep incline.
Yet for all the downsides to having to cling to any available surface –
yesterday I was slammed so hard against one of the walls in the only
working head that the toothpaste on my brush shot off + attached itself to
another wall halfway up – there are some definite pluses. Dawn yesterday +
watching the sails turn pink in the early morning glow has to be one of
The sailing has been intense + we are squeezing everything we can out of
the sails. For once we are sailing more or less as a fleet – enforced
because of the scattering of islands + reefs which require avoiding – but
it gives you a sense of being part of something bigger + also gives us a
windmill or two to tilt our lance at + provides the immense satisfaction of
knowing we can out-sail them.
Well one more island to go – Samana Cay – then New York our next stop.