Sailing the Caribbean – St Maarten Heineken Regatta 2011 Prep Week

Heineken Regatta 2011 Pt.1
I couldn’t have hoped for a better crew for the 2011 Heineken Regatta in St Maarten, Karen, Liz and Francisco were chilled out, in holiday mode and, most of all, fantastic fun!

Race Prep – Anguilla

OK, I’m gonna ‘fess up now! There really wasn’t much race prep goin’ on! I don’t take racing seriously – and when people start shouting and getting really serious I just start giggling….or running away!

After settling on board at the anchorage in Marigot, the 2011 Heineken Regatta crew set out on the first day of our race “training” to Anguilla. With a stop for lunch and a swim in the stunning blue waters of Maundy Bay en route, we anchored in Road Town for the night and found some great fish and chips – with grumpy service – at one of the beach-side restaurants.

Next morning we set off early for Prickly Pear Cay, passing Sandy Island. Popular with the day trip boats, Prickly Pear is great for beachcombing and the reef is slowly improving after taking a hammering from passing hurricanes. There is a lot of dead coral, but you can regularly see rays and there is still a lot of fish life.

A small tear in the Genoa meant that we had to abandon plans for Dog Island the next day and hot-foot it back to Marigot to dismount the sail and put it in for repair before the following racing week. We had a great sail back from Prickly Pear on a broad reach until Anguillita and we were going so well we overtook a German Catamaran heading back to Marigot…..the skipper wouldn’t return our greetings as we creamed past!

Genoa Repair & Halyard Retrieval

As we hauled the genoa down in a little more breeze than was comfortable, unfortunately the halyard went with it….up the mast and out the top! Note to self – must ALWAYS check the stopper knot before messing about with halyards! After taking the sail in for repair we moved the boat to the least rolly part of the harbour and it was time for a trip to the top of the mast from where I could pass down a plumbline inside the mast with which to draw the halyard back down.

Karen, Liz and Francisco did an excellent job in making sure I got to the top of the mast and back down safely, and in fishing the plumbline from inside the mast and getting the halyard back in operation! Well done guys! We all rewarded ourselves with a trip to Loterie Farm for a tapas lunch and some cocktails….well, we had to do something whilst waiting for the sail repair!

Race Prep – St Barth’s

It hosed it down the next morning in Marigot as we went ashore for breakfast coffee and croissants. Unfortunately most of the hatches were still open and it was a major drying out exercise for the rest of the day! Nevertheless we sailed North to Grand Case for lunch – where Francisco and I succeeded in catching a few jacks for a pan-fry – before heading back around the coast to Philipsburg, arriving just as the sun was setting.

We filled up with water on the fuel dock and after some time ashore for shopping the next morning we set off at lunchtime for St Barth’s and arrived into the beautiful Anse de Columbier for a barbeque dinner and to watch the sunset.

Next morning we motored around to the capital of Gustavia for some souvenir hunting and a great lunch in “Entre Deux” a tiny little garden restaurant set back from the harbour.

Race Prep – Tintamarre & Grand Case

From Gustavia we sailed back over to Simpson Bay for a few sundowners in Jimbo’s at Simpson Bay Marina, and the following day, my birthday, we sailed north to Tintamarre, a pretty, uninhabited island for a chill out lunch before heading back to Grand Case for Tuesday night’s Mardi complete with street stalls, local bands and a carnival parade!

Our final prep day was a leisurely cruise to Anguilla again and back to Marigot for a barbecue fish dinner on board Marc’s catamaran.

Race Prep – Hull Scraping & Winch Servicing

On registration day we motored round to Simpson Bay where Marc and Francisco grabbed snorkels and scrapers and spent an hour scraping the hull for any unwanted barnacles or other impediment to racing speed….crikey, someone was getting a bit serious!!

Liz, Karen and I donned rubber gloves and tried to fathom the instructions for winch dismantling, cleaning and reassembly….Francois had said it should only take half an hour apiece, but the first one took nearly 2 hours and it was getting dark by the time we finally got it all back together….and with no appreciable improvement in function! Whilst not a difficult job, it’s certainly a messy one requiring a lot of kitchen roll and white spirit….I’ll save the others for a nice long instructional video blog!

But HEY! We were ready to go racing….well as ready as we would ever be!

Read Part 2 of our 2011 Heineken Regatta voyage here….

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