April 25, 2004
At Sunday evening’s awards ceremony for the
Mieco Beach Yacht Club race a significant announcement was made: The owners
of the yacht Queen Jane, Jordan and Kate Bigel, are not sailing south.
Instead they are the sixth boat to come to the Marshall Islands this season
that has decided to stay here for at least a year!
The fledgling yacht club’s committee would
like to think that the holding of monthly yacht races, and the fun had at
their complementing parties at the Marshall Islands Resort, has a lot to do
with the skippers’ decisions to stick around. But word from the
international yachties is that, while they love the club’s events, it is the
people, the land and the reefs of the Marshalls that has made them put a
hold on their world travels for 12 months.
This is great news for the Marshalls, as the
presence of yachts brings valuable tourism dollars into the economy and
their visits to the outer islands brings benefits ranging from skippers and
crew fixing equipment for locals to the buying of handicrafts. Add the warm
cultural exchange that takes place and we should all be saying three cheers
to the boaties.
On the subject of cheers, there were many
rounds of them on Sunday evening after the running of the race. The loudest,
however, were for club commodore and former High Court Judge Dee Johnson,
who this week farewells the Marshalls.
Johnson’s role in the club includes
coordinating the race, which was this week held in superb sailing
conditions. The parade across the finish line in front of the Marshall
Islands Resort started with Roxanne taking out line honors. The sleek sloop
was followed by Windswept, Capricorn Cat, Dancer, Libby Lane, Navi-Gator,
Wind Runner, Seal and Rainbow Chaser. The race is run on handicap, with the
winners on corrected time being Dancer in first place, Roxanne second,
Windswept third and Capricorn Cat fourth.
The skipper of Capricorn Cat, Blair Grinolds
(who has promoted the Marshalls by writing many letters about our country
for the popular US west coast magazine Latitude 38) sailed out of Majuro
headed for Samoa on Monday morning. Close behind him was another long-time
friend of the Marshalls, Rixzene Ayers, skipper of the graceful ketch
Karmaladen. Ayers has spent over a year visiting our outer atolls and has
enjoyed her time here so much she intends to do a refit of her boat in Fiji
and then return to RMI in November.
With the number of
yachts visiting the Marshalls growing steadily each year, Ayers has wisely
booked her RRE mooring in advance, because who knows how many boats will be
bobbing about in our lagoon when she emerges again from the wide ocean blue.
Author: Karen Earnshaw