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Mt Gay Rum 2013 Neptune Regatta. Pause for breath.    
Sun, 17 Feb 2013

A torrential tropical downpour to start the lay day at the Neptune Regatta. The sort that fllls up dinghies in five minutes, and makes sure that the islands stay green. Lay day around here doesn’t mean a round of golf or a shopping trip – there are no golf courses on Pulau Sikeling and no shopping malls. The only brand-consciousness visible here might be to do with foul weather gear or possibly sunnies.

For many sailors in the fleet this was an opportunity for a lie-in after some very protracted Crossing the Line celebrations, clearly audible on board the Committee Boat quietly at anchor some 500 yards from the beach. But the stalwarts behind the grills in the field kitchen were hard at work turning out bacon and egg sarnies – the sort of food that tastes best when eaten standing under a palm shingle roof on an island in the middle of nowhere.

1200h saw enough souls out and about to fill one of the local fishing boats for a ferry ride across the nearby Pulau Blanding, and the village that is the nearest habitation to Neptune Island. Her the Neptune sailors were greeted enthusiastically by hordes of small children who all wanted to have their photo taken at least a dozen times, and the village restaurant served up more nasi goreng and ayam kampong than they’d cooked in the last nine months. The local chicken population must have been almost wiped out, and the combined purchases of fuel, cigarettes and fresh fish must have given the local economy the sort of financial boost that European governments can only dream about.

Many of the fleet moved off to another anchorage behind Sikeling this morning during the rainstorm – the wind came from the south west, making for a very bumpy parking lot on the south of the island. And that in turn meant a reduced turnout for the bangers and hot dogs served up before everyone repaired to the bar for some intellectually-challenging games, many of which involved drinking forfeits. Starter for 10 for those who have just become Trusty Shellbacks – name all the countries through which the equator runs. Answers by email to asiaeditor(at), and the first three correct answers win an 8x10' photo of your boat crossing the equator on 14 February 2013.

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia

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