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:
Publish date:
Updated on
STMAARTEN.interior

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

Pestilence

Sailor-Punk and the State of Cruising

Back when I was a young man, sailing back and forth across the North Atlantic in an old fiberglass sailboat, it seemed fairly obvious to me how all that was wrong in the world might be set right. Everyone should be issued a boat at birth! Or so I declared to any who would listen ...read more

promoOnTheHorizon600x

Cats On The Horizon

Dragonfly 32 Evolution Denmark’s Quorning Boats has been systematically upgrading its line of folding, performance-cruiser trimarans in recent years as part of a long-term effort to incorporate the latest developments in yacht design, with the latest to receive this treatment ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more