We arrived in Tortola determined, if not to win the cruising class, to at least have a creditable go in the annual BVI Spring Regatta with the all woman crew of “Team SAIL”. We looked damned good in our pink team shirts and matching pink Crocs and were sure to look equally good on the water aboard the Moorings 51.5 charterboat, Caribbean Soul. And if we failed…at least we escaped a cold and rainy New England April for a week.
On the first day of the race, we headed to the line in 20 to 25 knot winds. As our start time approached the winds and waves in the Sir Francis Drake Channel continued to build and our cautious captain decided not to risk damaging the boat racing in those conditions. We motorsailed towards the Bitter End under half a jib, making eight to nine knots as the winds reached a conservative 30 to 35 knots. It was a wet and wild ride as waves broke over the rail, but we made the most of it, blaring music over the roar of the elements.
Even in the protection of the Bitter End, the wind was strong making for a rough night belowdecks. The wind howled over the portholes and whipped the halyards, burgees, and even our hatch. The wind never let up all week, and locals swore they couldn’t remember such sustained high wind conditions.
The next day, a lay day reserved for leisure at the Bitter End’s beautiful facilities, set the stage for the remainder of the week when a sudden rain squall sent us running for cover at the nearest bar. A few dark and stormies and rum punches later it was time for lunch. It was also at the Bitter End that I was informed that my week would not be wasted. With my wedding a mere month away, the crew was determined that I should dedicate myself to living it up.