PxPixel
2 by 2 - Sail Magazine

2 by 2

Conventional wisdom has it there can be only one captain on a boat, and that skippering by consensus never works. When it comes down to the wire, one voice must be heard above all others, or chaos will ensue. Well, that’s obviously a male viewpoint. My friend Pip and I share a passion for sailing and adventure, and we’ve done some offshore racing and family cruising, but neither of us had ever
Author:
Publish date:
dawn1

Conventional wisdom has it there can be only one captain on a boat, and that skippering by consensus never works. When it comes down to the wire, one voice must be heard above all others, or chaos will ensue. Well, that’s obviously a male viewpoint. My friend Pip and I share a passion for sailing and adventure, and we’ve done some offshore racing and family cruising, but neither of us had ever taken charge of a sailboat. Our confidence had been bolstered by a rigorous sailing course that qualified us to skipper a charter boat. It also revealed that we have different but complementary skill sets, so we decided a collaborative skippering experience might work best for us. With no male egos to get in the way, the omens were good.

We approached our charter in the British Virgin Islands with a heady mix of excitement and nervous anticipation, reasoning that our combined sailing knowledge would see us through the week. We had no reason to doubt our individual abilities, and felt comforted by the fact that we had each other to rely on, confer with and learn from.

Two skippers need a strong crew. We assembled a dynamic bunch of women from New England and old England to accompany us. Bird provided crucial sailing assistance, as well as psychotherapeutic advice. Aviva recorded our daily exploits with beautiful watercolors, while Jen created exquisite meals with fresh local ingredients. The week’s entertainment culminated with a truly memorable water ballet performance directed by Pam and featuring The Water Sisters.

The Footloose charter base on Tortola is wedged behind pontoons bulging with Moorings and Sunsail boats; we wondered if we’d have to grease the sides of Sail Mate, our 43ft catamaran, in order to get out. A terrified Pip took the wheel for departure and set off rather faster than anticipated, blaming the throttle controls. After a rather hairy snorkel stop at the Indians that involved 18-20 knots of wind, a large swell and pushy bareboat skippers ready to play chicken for the nearest mooring, we made the Bight on Norman Island with plenty of daylight to spare. It was a pleasure to see everyone so excited, especially those who had never been in the Caribbean before. We swam, enjoyed the sunset, and then shared a superb dinner followed by—ahem—pole dancing.

dawn2

Pip had been to the BVIs enough times to know the importance of arriving early at the Baths. But when we arrived still bleary-eyed the next morning, we were met by red danger flags on shore snapping in the 20-knot northeasterly breeze. No problem, we’d just pick up a mooring so Aviva could do some painting. You can guess what happened next. Somehow we ended up wrapping the dinghy painter around our prop. Yes, I admit it, panic ensued: cursing, engines refusing to start, big swell, rocks—yikes! Then we realized we were drifting away from rocks and other boats, and that we were in no real danger.

We bent on a new painter for the dinghy so we could cut free the wrapped line. Thankfully, Bird is always up for a physical challenge. Topless, fearless, knife clenched between her teeth, she was soon over the side doing battle like a Bond girl. Not to be left out, Aviva and Pip joined the struggle and managed to pull the last piece of yellow line from the prop. The only casualty was a lost boathook—amazing! We dusted ourselves down, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and then had a cracking sail up to the Bitter End.

Trouble always comes in threes, and as we prepared to depart the Bitter End, the port engine refused to start. Fortunately Lionel, a roving mechanic from Footloose, came to our rescue, fixing the engine and replacing the boathook and painter. Moored at Leverick Bay that night, we went ashore to see a really corny pirate show. Inspired, we returned to the boat and had our own limbo dancing competition.

The next morning we decided to confront our demons and return to the site of the by-now legendary prop wrap. This time there was much less wind and swell at the Baths, and we arrived early enough to have our pick of the moorings. We went ashore in the dinghy and had a lovely few hours exploring the caves and swimming in the crystal clear water. By lunchtime all the tourist buses were gone and we had the place to ourselves. The disaster du jour was losing the kill-switch clip from the dinghy, but Aviva’s hairclip made a wonderful MacGyver-style substitute.

Related

Josie-helm-2

Chartering the U.S. and Spanish Virgins

Flying into Tortola in the British Virgin Islands one December morning, three months after Hurricane Irma, I felt like a war correspondent dispatched to the battlefront rather than a sailing magazine writer on an assignment to go cruising.As my LIAT plane descended toward Beef ...read more

Crew-North-27M004

Weather Gear for Inshore Sailing

Just because you’re not planning on braving the Southern Ocean this summer doesn’t mean that you won’t have some dicey days out on the water. If you haven’t got the right gear, a little rain or humidity can make things miserable. As with all safety equipment, “it’s always better ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

3DiNordac_webheader

3Di NORDAC: One Year In

One year ago this month, North Sails launched a cruising revolution with the introduction of 3Di NORDAC. The product promised to deliver a better cruising experience for a market that had not seen true product innovation in over 60 years. Today we’re celebrating the team that ...read more

HB96k_EP

Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP

What SUP?Dinghies and kayaks are all very well, but there’s nothing like a stand-up paddleboard for exploring interesting new shorelines while giving you a good workout. Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP makes a fine addition to your boat’s armory of anchorage toys, either on its ...read more

DSC_0031-43

Charting the USVI and Spanish Virgins

When my friends and I booked a one-way bareboat charter with Sail Caribe, starting in the U.S. Virgin Islands and finishing in Puerto Rico, we were a little nervous about what we would find in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria—even seven months later.When our plane ...read more

SailRepairKit

Know How: Sail Repair Kit

Despite your best efforts, there will inevitably be times when your sail gets damaged while at sea and needs to be repaired. First, no matter what the job, you will need to do a quick damage assessment, a task that requires a flat wooden surface, sharp scissors and a helping ...read more

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more