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

  • Prev
With old boats every repair seems to uncover something else needing attention.  Removing the ...
We admit it, this Photo of the Week shot was just too cute to resist even though it was blatant ...
Reader Lorraine Gentleman took some liberty with our request for Photo of the Week shots from the ...
This afternoon portrait of her son enjoying a snooze in a pretty unlikely spot comes to us from ...
I've been cleaning dresser drawers for space and came across this 1979 LYRA t-shirt. This was my ...
Our Photo of the Week comes from one of our CY team members who writes “This is my son and his best ...
This boat carries the distinction as the last boat to leave the C&C Custom shop in Oakville ...
We crossed Lake Ontario from Oswego with a minimum of fuss and did a little happy dance when we ...
Our Photo of the Week comes from Mark and Lisa Harris who winter in Vancouver, Washington and spend ...
I am new to boating. Bought a 2019 Ranger Tug in April followed by taking a short boating course ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Since the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over ...
This bag does more than hold your anchor and rode in one tidy little pile. After you’ve anchored ...
Purchase your copy of the BRAND NEW Ports Georgian Bay 2020 Edition at the Toronto International ...
The boat was put on the hard for this winter and were going to follow along with Graham as he ...
In this part, we’ll delve deeper into the other parts of the boat found below the water line: the ...
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told my children to wash their hands. I remind them ...
The new editions of PORTS Cruising Guides, from the publishers of Canadian Yachting will be ...
As the seasons change and we move from warm summer into cooler fall, many fanatic boaters ...
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 ...

Diesel Fuel MaintenanceSince the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over gasoline. In more recent decades, that argument has included boat manufacturers, and increasingly, individual boaters. As I pass through boat yards in the spring or fall, I’m sure to hear a comment or two (sometimes ruefully, other times with great joy) of the merit of a particular engine or fuel source.

Increasingly, diesel engines are praised for their long-life, ease of maintenance, compact design, reliability and safety, and rate of combustion. As well as cruisers and trawlers, many sailboat manufacturers in particular have chosen to install diesel engines. 

Read more about Diesel Fuel Maintenance........................

 

  

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

Beneteau Flyer 32By Andy Adams

Summer sun boat! The handsome new Beneteau Flyer 32 is all about entertaining and the bow area is one of the main attractions. It's a wide shape forward with a huge anchor locker and opening centre section in the railing that invites you to beach the boat and go swimming. The bow is really one giant sun bed area with armrests that fold down and head rests too, for fall-asleep comfort. 

 

 

Read more about the Beneteau Flyer 32....................

 

Dufour 460By Katherine Stone

When one does an October yacht review on the Great Lakes you can never be sure of what kind of weather you will get…. and did we ever luck out! A beautiful sunny day with a high of 31 degrees and a perfect 8-10 knot breeze with light chop made for a champagne sailing day. Lucky for me we were at Swans Yacht Sales located in the Whitby Marina on Lake Ontario, trying out the Dufour 460 Grand Large, a flag ship for the midrange Dufour boats. With an overall length of 46’5” and a hull length of 44 ‘, this boat is majestic, not only in size, but also in elegance with timeless and contemporary style. 

Read More about Dufour 460..................

Moorings In BrazilWith an increasing amount of interest in South America as a charter destination, The Moorings has responded with a new base in Paraty, Brazil. Surrounded by towering jungles plummeting into the waters of Baia Carioca, this charter cruising region features bays peppered with islands and world-famous beaches.

Centrally located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Paraty (pronounced “Para-chee”) holds the key to many natural wonders you can only discover by boat.

Read more about Moorings' Brazil Charters......................

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
Since the days of the astrolabe, sailors have looked to the skies to determine the weather. If only ...
Since 1984 PORTS Cruising Guides have been the cruising boater's essential companion. But now PORTS ...
Canada’s largest independent fiberglass boat builder, Campion, has launched Muskoka, The M26 is 8.4 ...
It is not often I get to drive the newer model of something I own. Most of the time the model I own ...
Good news cruisers, it’s coming in early Summer 2020 – PORTS Rideau Canal and Lower Ottawa River ...
Few things are as frustrating to a boat owner as being becalmed or running out of fuel—or both. If ...
One of the biggest complaints we hear from our readers is ‘why we don’t run more new products’. ...
Every cruiser in the region has used it for years, but now there’s a brand new edition of the ...
When you visit the Toronto Boat Show, come to the Canadian Yachting booth (#1741), trial a pair of ...
With the Davis Scrubbis Underwater Hull Cleaning Kit it's easy to rid a boat of algae, grass, and ...