Thursday, April 29, 2010


While in the Bahamas, a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral lit up the night sky over Stocking Island, Georgetown Bahamas. The pictures show when the rocket broke the sound barrier and the after cloud. The kids said, Mom, Dad, come see this. Enjoying our wine and company we were slow to come out and look but glad we did.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

But I don't want to tack


Family Island Regatta Race week was something that we returned to Georgetown Bahamas to watch and hopefully participate in. Bahamanian sloops are the pride of each "family" island. For 4 days, they race several races a day with exciting anchor starts, aggressive tacks at the turns and usually several near collisions per race. The sloops are hand crafted mostly wood boats with over sized masts and sails, made to go fast. The ballasts are produced by people "hikin out" on pry boards that have to be moved across on tacks and gybes. A friend of ours broke their thumb last year crewing on a boat. Marc then met the "Rev" owner of a B class boat who was 72 years old, had a 37 year old boat and needed crew. Without doing any independent investigation, he agreed to crew. So, off Marc went to the start while I followed in the dingy with Sabrina. Here is Marc to tell the rest of the story.

The boat was a "classic" and the Rev was past his prime. No two pieces of hardware matched, there had been several restorations, jerry rigs, and patch jobs to "Six Sisters". So after a 12 second training session "puu up da anca" "gim som sail" "Rev! Push it up ya gon hit da boa at ancar!" So a committee boat gave us a tow to the start as I was re rigging the main sheet line that was all knotted up between the blocks. The fact that I knew how to keep it from knotting now made me the main sail trimmer and not high on the pry board... that was a relief. A thousand feet of sail a 3:1 block and pulley ratio, no winch and just a plastic cleat that was pulling out of the deck to secure the main sheet to ...nice.

Bang! Our crew of 8 start pulling on the anchor rode for the traditional Bahamian anchor start. As this is happening the captain hauls up the sail as we bear off on the planned starboard tack. Only problem, we are the most windward boat and all the other boats below us have right of way and are pointing higher than the Rev likes to sail. To add to the excitement the port tack boats with 35' booms hanging off 25' boats are crossing on all sides. Puu it Rev, mak i hard (hardin in the main)but that could go for the jib but no distinction is made just louder yelling. CHAOS is an understatement. Did I mention our wooden mast has a crack in it at the base about a foot long? By the grace of God, he is a Reverend, we survive. The communication with our captain goes from bad to worse as the Rev at 72 does not like to be told what to do. "Why you havin may on da boat u no gonna lisen Rev? Sal da boat Rev! don' slac it Rev, Sal da boat repeat" 10x.

Now the good part. Behind the 50' high curtain of sail is another boat now approaching perpendicular and with the right of way. The English language has over 50,000 words but 80% of the conversation contains only one and it starts with F. The Rev keeps falling off and not going up into the wind high enough. Despite our captains continual "positive encouragement and coaching" we are falling off into a collision course. The captain now changes strategies and demands that we tack to avoid a collision. "Wha' ya wan tack fo? You teln me sail da boat now you wan tack? Yo all mes up!" The Rev say, "I ain' ready ta tack! I can reach da mark!"

And then from behind the curtain of sail the bow of "Hummingbird" of Long Island came T-boning into the side of our boat knocking me off the high side into the bilge as the Rev was sent more forward. Booms and masts entangled, my shades were in 5 pieces. Hummingbird is going down and we don't want to sink too so I reached up and pushed the tiller over to sail us off their boat. Within 5 seconds there boat had sunk to the 8' bottom as the wide eyed crew bobbed in the water. Tis better to be the sinker and not the sunken because you can just keep on racing hoping to get into more close calls with the Rev. After finishing next to last we lined up at the start with a foot long structural hole in the side of our boat to do it all over again. To avoid sinking we had to keep the rail out of the water. not easy to do. With team work and me planting my foot next to the tiller to keep us on track we managed finish around 12Th of 18!" In the interest of self preservation I chose not to crew with them the next day. What a ride!