Skip to main content

Bahamas Sloop Winds Page 2

Northeast trades: 25 knots, gusting 30. The quarter-wake hissing.My 29-year-old son, Noah, and I had just shaken out the reef in the mainsail on our little Bahamas sloop and fallen off onto a reach in the lee of Great Guana Cay when we saw the old salt.Screaming out of the settlement’s harbor, he held the tiller of a sky-blue sailing skiff with a casual at-homeness I have seen only
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

I don’t remember Noah’s words. It was King’s Bahamian creole I heard. Dere she is, cap! Keep her good full.

Ya, mon.

Days later, after mooring the Jacqueline B. in Fishers Bay, we found the old salt, our tacking duelist, ashore on Guana Cay, reading Wooden Boat in the shade of the dive shop. His name was Ned “Mack” McIntosh. Age 91. Or, as he put it, “14 for 77 years.” And in short order Mack and his wife, Terry, invited us to their cottage for lunch.

We scored some fried-chicken takeout from Miss Love’s Kitchen (Bess on da island). Between mouthfuls of chicken, peas, and rice, we heard how Mack sailed with his brother Bud to see the fishing-schooner races between the Bluenose and the Gertrude L. Thebaud off Gloucester in 1938. How he had sailed in the last Havana Race in the 1950s. And how this boatbuilder and designer (of the Merrimac skiff) from coastal New Hampshire had cruised into the Abacos, after a couple of voyages to the Galpagos, and put his winter roots down in a humble cottage on Guana when he was but a young man like you.

Here he pointed at me. And let me tell you that when you’re on the cusp of 60 and someone calls you a young man, a fresh breeze blows through your soul. You think that maybe these islands harbor the fountain of youth. And you want to stay here forever, lay it down like paper.

So we did. At least for most of the afternoon, until the trade winds started one of the old blue shutters banging on the cottage.

Noah and I stirred. “I think the wind’s calling you, boys.” Mack’s voice had a new base note, a resonance. We said we could have a good run down to Green Turtle before dark. Maybe just set the mainsail. Keep her good full.

Mack nodded. His eyes seemed to reach past me, out the front door of the cottage, his mind drifting who-knows-where. Maybe just to that pile of conch shells, the delicate red of the hibiscus. Or maybe farther, to the wisp of a sloop rolling before the whitecaps…the smoky shores of Treasure Cay…the glow of Havana from the Gulf Stream.

“That was some fun!” he said finally. “Some fine wind. Racing the way we did. We had old-time, island sailing, didn’t we?”

Noah looked at me, a boyish grin blooming on his face. I felt something behind my own eyes soften as I caught his smile.

Get ready, mon...Gone!

Ya, mon.

Randall Peffer has sailed and worked on traditional boats for years. His at-home boat is the schooner Sarah Abbott.

Related

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more

bermuda

How to Spectate on the Newport Bermuda

The biannual Newport Bermuda Race starts on Friday with the first warning signal at 1 pm. Whether you’re tracking a loved one’s progress or just spectating an event that draws pros and weekend warriors alike, there are plenty of ways to stay up to watch. The starting line will ...read more

03-Hyeres-220429_SOF2022_SAILINGENERGY_1933_3184-copy

US Sailing Strikes Gold in Hyères

After being skunked or nearly skunked at multiple Olympiads, could the US Sailing Team (USST) now under the direction of Olympic veteran Paul Cayard, be finally turning it around? If its performance at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyères, France, where the team posted ...read more

P1480042

New York City’s Newest Fleet

120 children enrolled in Brooklyn Boatworks’ STEM and life skills-focused program launched their hand-built optimist prams on June 14 from Pier 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The launch is the culmination of years of student work, with boats in process before the pandemic caused the ...read more

AdobeStock_197518370

Charter: Off the Beaten Path

So, you like to charter in the Caribbean with its warm waters, swaying palm trees, steady trade winds and strong rum drinks. What’s not to love? It can be easy, though, to get stuck in a rut when chartering year after year in the same place. Sure, the British Virgin Islands are ...read more