Skip to main content

Safe Passage to St. Maarten

For many of the crew—myself included—it was the stuff of dreams. Thundering past the committee boat was the Wally 82 Highland Fling. Off in the distance, the Reichel/Pugh 90 Rambler threw in a quick gybe as the R/P 75 Titan 15 suddenly appeared from under our genoa, her razor-sharp bow slicing the cobalt waves. It was day two of the 30th annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Skies were blue, it
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

For many of the crew—myself included—it was the stuff of dreams. Thundering past the committee boat was the Wally 82 Highland Fling. Off in the distance, the Reichel/Pugh 90 Rambler threw in a quick gybe as the R/P 75 Titan 15 suddenly appeared from under our genoa, her razor-sharp bow slicing the cobalt waves. It was day two of the 30th annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Skies were blue, it was blowing in the high teens, and life was good.

I was sailing aboard the Farr 65 Spirit of Minerva, courtesy of San Francisco-based SafePassageSailing LLC, a company that makes it possible for sailors of all backgrounds to get a taste of the “rock star” sailing life and have a great time in the process.

For this event we had about a half dozen Texans aboard, along with Minerva’s regular crew from the training and chartering company Ondeck Ltd. We also had an exceptional afterguard—Olympic veteran and 2007 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Sally Barkow, and America’s Cup and Pegasus Racing Team veteran Sean “Doogie” Couvreux.

Unfortunately, things were pretty fluky on day one of the regatta. But by the time day two rolled around, St. Maarten’s famed sun and wind were once again well established. The race committee started things off with a pair of hard-fought inshore windward-leeward races. After that came a coastal race around the west end of the island from Simpson Bay to Marigot—exhausting, but vintage Caribbean sailing.

Perhaps the best part of all came afterward, during our crew meeting in the cockpit on the hook in Marigot Bay. Summing up the day’s events, Couvreux and Barkow complimented the crew on how well it had done despite having only been together a few days. The Farr 65 is a big, heavy boat and a challenge to handle, especially on an inshore course. As Couvreux put it, when the wind is up, boats like the Spirit of Minerva can bite back, hard.

He also singled out crewmember Dayna Bryant for her work in the pit. An experienced sailor and secretary of the Grapevine Sailing Club in Grapevine, Texas, she had struggled to make the transition to the big rig, but now had things well in hand. I, for one, was amazed. As I told Dayna afterward, she had me completely fooled. Up by the mast, jumping halyards and wrestling with the headsails, I’d assumed she’d been doing this kind of thing for years.

That, of course, is the beauty of an outfit like SafePassageSailing. Crewing on big boats ain’t rocket science, but it sure can be tough sometimes getting a ride, especially at an event like the Heineken. By throwing in its lot with SafePassageSailing, Spirit of Minerva’s crew was able to not only hone its sailing skills but create the memories of a lifetime.

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