altThe horn signals the start of the Round-the-Island race in the 31st running of the Heineken Regatta.

Our boat incises the waters off Sint Maarten’s south coast with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

On every side the white triangles of other boats decorate the horizon line; in the distance I can see the misty blue heights of Saba.

But our crew has no eyes for Saba, nor lust for sandy beaches, though there’s a perfect one but half a nautical mile off the starboard beam, another one nearby that boasts a great sunset-watching bar.

Behind us in a staggered start because they ship spinnakers, another fleet of boats is a kaleidoscope of sails, a hot air balloon festival á la mer.

But only I have eyes for them. The other crew members keep their eyes cast upon the prize. They are deadly serious.

I am having fun.

Makes sense, this nautical oxymoron. For it is the guiding principle of the Heineken: Serious Fun.

I had fun last night. Serious fun. Surprising how easy those ubiquitous green cans of beer empty themselves. Surprising how the dancing spirit gets you when two hundred other people are out on the dance floor, spot-lit in green light, bass grooves from the live Soca band like a snake that slithers up your legs and burrows into your stomach.

Every night is party night.

Last night the venue was the grounds of the Princess Port de Plaisance Resort and Casino. Tonight the streets of Phillipsburg will flood with crowds as inexorable as high tide; bands will take the stages …

“Let’s get serious, people.”

Mattie Jeffs’ voice is sharp. The crew responds to the skipper’s exhortation with alacrity. On the foredeck Don Sauer and his girlfriend Tracie Greven serve as human whisker poles since we aren’t in the spinnaker class; since we, in the Bareboat class, race a Moorings 50, built for cruising not racing.

We fly to the first mark. A cacophony of sails approaches; voices raised in fear and anger waft across the white-washed waters. We round the mark and make for points north two boat lengths from our neighbor, three boat lengths from another competitor in our class and group, as evidenced by the flag flapping furiously from the backstay – a pennant that matches ours exactly.

The field opens up. The waters flatten. But winds are up.

I ponder new beaches – French ones now.

But my crewmates keep their eyes on the prize.

Hardly the only serious sailors here.

The Heineken (next year’s regatta is the thirty-second) hosts the likes of Volvo Ocean Race veteran Mikey Joubert, Jan Dekker of America’s Cup fame and world champion Peter Holmberg. Past participants have included the likes of Roy Disney and the late adventurer Steve Fossette.

Last year’s entries included Gunboats like “Phaedo”, a Carbon Ocean 82, a Rob Humphrey-designed fifty-four-footer.

Serious sailors, serious boats.

And serious competition as we round another mark.

Now we’re beating upwind through Anguilla Passage. Now a line squall crouches over the hills where an ancient French fort frowns upon the town of Marigot.

Now our skipper, eyes narrowed in concentration, looks at the squall line. He scans the shoreline. He squints at another boat in our class. It’s gaining and cuts into the lee of Marigot.

Jeffs turns the wheel hard to port and we tack violently, heading to the middle of the passage just as the squall hits. “High side,” he yells. “High side.”

The crew responds as one.

Jeffs confers with Sauer. “I hope this is the right move,” he says.

I’ve got temporary blindness, rain lashing my face.

“Are we having fun yet?” I yell over the sudden gale.

But I don’t need an answer.

Back in Canada these people are dedicated racers. Of course they’re having fun.

J.T. Trueman, out of Bay of Quinte Yacht Club, has done the Heineken five or six times, he’s raced in the Lake Ontario 300, he’s even survived two Transats. Lana Washington calls herself a newbie, but she’s J.T.’s partner and she races regularly at home. Kim Lander is an accomplished Shark racer. Jeffs is a veteran of LO 300’s and lots of blue water sailing. Nathan Bresette raced dinghies when he was ten. He’s “Sugar Cane’s” Mr. Fixit. Tracie Greven sailed dinghies when she was twelve and crews for her partner Don Sauer, a strong force on the Eastern Race Circuit and navigator for this trip. Tom Nelson calls himself a greenhorn but he’s got years of powerboat experience, and the rest of the crew seems to have forgiven this particular shortcoming.

I am human ballast.

The storm passes but we’ve made the wrong call. Our closest competitor has velocity made good.

But we start catching up by time we clear the French side and trim sails for a beam as the wind races up the channel between this island and a rust-coloured monstrosity called Tintamarre.

We round the mark. Head south, close-hauled past one of the most hedonistic and popular beaches on the twin-country island hard to starboard. The masts of cruising boats anchored just off Orient Beach are clearly visible.

It’s neck-and-neck now. We zip through the Hens and Chicks, sort of monolithic sculptures rising up like great beasts out of the sea.

The finish line is in sight.

It’s us, then them. We gain, they gain. We harden sheets, they harden sheets.

We cross the finish line three boat-lengths ahead.

We cheer. We shake hands all round. Someone brings out fresh Heinekens.

“That was fun,” says somebody.

“Serious fun,” says somebody else.

We laugh together.

We moor the boat and snug her down. We hitchhike to shore. We make the journey by land to Phillipsburg.

Where tonight the streets will flood with crowds as inexorable as high tide; where bands will take the stages.
 

Lifestyle

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I am new to boating. Bought a 2019 Ranger Tug in April followed by taking a short boating course ...
Arie and Maribeth sent us this photo from their honeymoon departing Killarney…I think they were in ...
This shot was taken last week by Jessica Lee, a freelance photography pro, Albacore racer and part ...
On a sunny and windless day we led Alicia and another sailboat into New York Harbour. There were ...
It was a trip 2 or 3 years ago, and all 4 boats traveled up to the Killarney area in a ...
My name is Alexandrine GOVAN, mother of a 5 years old girl and I found your contact on internet. ...
John Booth, who passed away just a few weeks ago was one of the most amazingly gifted and ...
We left Vero Beach on Saturday morning with Alicia, a boat from Sweden, following close behind. The ...
At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...

DIY & How to

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On the Friday before a weekend with a gorgeous forecast, I heard on the news that a boat had ...
A reader suggested we take a look at anchors. Anchoring seems simple enough. A weighted hook with a ...
If you’ve spent any time in a boat yard during spring commissioning season, you won’t find it out ...
As a busy marine mechanic, I tend to have the same or similar conversations often, and they’re ...
This time of year, great deals abound. That boat with the ‘for sale’ sign looks quite attractive. ...
For less than US$2,500, Jim Leshaw, a lawyer who lives and works in Key Biscayne, Florida, ...
Each spring, I tend to notice canvas. I wish it was because it’s been immaculately maintained and ...
I’ve had two emails over the past few weeks with a count-down to launch (47 days per the last ...
Last time we looked at making proper electrical connections – the tools, supplies and methods ...
Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is ...

Cables SecuredOn the Friday before a weekend with a gorgeous forecast, I heard on the news that a boat had exploded at a local marina; the boat’s operator was seriously injured. At the time, I heard that authorities were investigating and were attempting to determine the cause of the explosion and fire.

What would I do if an explosion occurs on a boat that I was working on? What was the cause? How could this happen?


 

 

Read more about Safe Starts............

 

  

Boat Reviews

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The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...
ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
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Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1The Oceanis official US debut will be at the upcoming Newport International Boat Show in September and will be featured at the United States Sailboat show in Annapolis in October.

With an overall size under 30 feet and a light displacement of less than 8,805 lbs., the Oceanis is easily trailerable without a wide load permit. If you prefer to access your sailing grounds by canals and rivers, the lifting keel and rotating mast open a world of endless possibilities. Perfect for sailing on lakes or for coastal hopping, this new Oceanis is, nevertheless, a robust category B sailing yacht, fitted for offshore sailing. The smallest of the range offers the biggest choice of programs! 

Read more about the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1............................

 

Grady White Freedom 235 Dual ConsoleBy Jill Snider

Once again, I had the pleasure of joining CY’s test guru Andy Adams on a boat review. This time, out on Georgian Bay, we put the Grady White Freedom 235 Dual Console to the test. There are so many great things to tell you about this classic beauty.

Andy
If I were required to compare Grady White’s Freedom 235 Dual Console to an animal, I would tell you that she has the character of a Labrador Retriever. Here are a few reasons why...

Read More about the Grady White Freedom 235 Dual Console......................


Coal Harbour MarinaVancouver is ranked one of the most liveable cities in the world. You can explore much of the cityscape by water and moor at several marinas. The city offers the marine visitor a panoply of fine dining, waterside pubs, shopping and cultural amenities.

English Bay and False Creek, one of the choice urban boating destinations in North America, bring you into the heart of the city. Good moorage and anchorages are available and there is lots happening both on the water and all along the shoreline.

 

 

Read more about Vancouver...........

 

Marine Products

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Blue Guard has announced the general availability of the BG-One, a solid-state bilge pump switch, ...
With the introduction of the Ion Power Basic, a safe Lithium Ion battery formulated with Lithium, ...
Finding a car brand that you enjoy while it does what you need can be tough, as they can be ...
Yikes! No boat refrigeration? You’ve Got to be Kidding me!! But then again, true campers don’t use ...