Friday, May 29th

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Editorial - Not worth it

The biggest boat party of the Northeast Caribbean takes place today in Anguilla as part of that island’s annual Summer Festival (Carnival) activities. This is when residents and visitors alike in St. Maarten/St. Martin wanting to have fun on Sandy Ground beach desperately search for a so-called “FWB” (friend with boat), take one of the special ferry services or find some kind of vessel of their own.

Doing so is not without risk, because what appears to be an easy dash across the Anguilla channel can turn into quite a difficult trip in case of choppy seas, especially when returning after dark. The latest forecast of Sunday evening called for a moderate to fresh Easterly breeze of 13 to 22 miles per hour and possibly higher gusts.

What’s more, while characterised as moderate, seas were said to be peaking near 7 feet with an increase to 8 feet expected Monday due to higher winds. Readers should not forget either that last year a man had to be rescued from his dinghy that went adrift and was nearing the rocks at Point Molly Smith, West of Grand Case.

In 2012 four persons were even hoisted off their sinking boat by helicopter, while the year before had really been a busy one. The weather outlook at the time mentioned rough seas and the likelihood of a small craft advisory, but the latter wasn’t actually issued until 11:00am, when most sailors already had left “The Friendly Island.”

No fewer than three troubled vessels had to be rescued that day, one of them carrying around 200 people. It does not take a genius to figure out what could have happened.

The intention here is in no way to scare everybody out of going, but rather to have them take the necessary precautions such as properly checking boat and engine, having adequate rescue gear and communication means aboard, but also making sure the captain does not become intoxicated. After all, a few hours of enjoyment are simply not worth endangering one’s life by acting in an irresponsible manner.