For those of you who don't know...that is Regatta
Time In Abaco.
For us it began this year with a flight over to Treasure Cay on
July 2, which nearly had to be changed when, at boarding time,
we realized that our return ticket had not been handed back to
us by the ticket agent. The Bahamas won't let you in if
you can't show them a return ticket. I guess they just don't
want us stranded over there with no money to get home. Can't
say I blame them! Anyway our tickets turned up in someone
elses envelope at the gate so they only had to hold the plane
about 10 mins. for us. Arrival at Green Turtle Cay
found the weather hot and windless and that was also the day of
the Round Green Turtle Race
Island of Green
which we were immediately glad we hadn't entered.
As it turned out only one boat managed to finish inside the time
limit and that was Risky Business. Congrats to Barbara and
crew for a job well done! The awards presentation was held at
The Green Turtle Club,
our favorite little spot on Green Turtle.
We decided that this was to be more of a vacation
than a regatta and its certainly set up to be that way!
Race every other day with lay days in between for snorkel trips
or island exploring and partying and whatever else you are up
for. Protests are discouraged heartily and its designed
to be more fun than serious racing. So in the spirit of
a real vacation we chartered a boat that was built by a friend
about 7 years ago called Munjack. Its
called an Abaco 24 and is easily sailed by a crew of 2.
Tom did the driving and main trimming and I did jib and fordeck.
Since the boat has only 2 sails this job was pretty relaxing!
There are no winches or instruments of any kind. In fact
we added some telltales to the jib and shrouds just to help us
see the wind and get the trim right.
The partying began with a beach bash hosted by the
"Stranded Naked" crew on a little beach just north of
Green Turtle Cay. The place was supposed to be called Fiddle Cay
but we saw no such name on the charts. We scooted up there
on our rented 14' Whaler and it sure was the event not to miss!
This group has a houseboat that they keep
over there and sure know how to throw a beach party! They hung
a sign, therefor designating it "Fiddle Cay" for the
day and brought a small generator along to run the blender and
a huge wok to make the fries in and the grill was kept busy with
burgers. Jimmy Buffet blasted from a boat anchored nearby
and 'water noodles' were provided for flotation for all.
Umbrellas stuck in the sand about waist
deep provided a break from the hot sun but we had to be careful
as the tide came in!
It all ended too soon as we had to make our way
over to the Skipper's meeting.
Race #1 started and ended as a drifter on July 4th
and the course was shortened early on. But we did get a
race in and were happy to start the Regatta with a second place
trophy. No one was more surprised than I was but that little
boat sure can ghost along in light air! This was a downhill
drag race and the trick was just to find the puffs and drift from
one to the next. The trophy was, as always, from the Johnstone
Galleries down at Little Harbour and as this was the Green Turtle
race, it is a beautiful mahogony plaque with a bronze turtle sculpture
mounted on it. The awards party featured free drinks so
you can guess the rest! Of course we managed our mandatory
stop at Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar for the obligatory Goombay Smash.
For inventing this drink, Miss Emily has been declared a Bahama's
The next day was a layday and travel to Great Guana
was the first order of business. Our home over there was
and was hand built by its owner and one of the lovelyest places
you could imagine! He has also built Treehouse
next door and hasn't lost his touch. We arrived and went
directly up to Nippers where there was already a party in progress
but mostly the sport fishing crowd so we walked the beach and
went over to the Guana Cay Resort for a "Guana Grabber"
(and another and another). An early night to bed and then
Race #2 gave us a disappointing 7th place with our new rating.
You see...this is called the 'Mother Tub' class and ratings get
adjusted after each race by some system we haven't quite figured
out. But each time you do well your rating reflects it and
when you lose the rating goes with it. The idea is to give
everyone in the class a chance to win something. So with
a 180 in the first race we were moved to 140 in the next because
we did well. After this 7th we were readjusted to 144.
Lay day again, and we started with a trip over to
Marsh Harbour to pick up the 18' skiff we rented. Now we
were more mobile and had time for a trip out to the reef for some
snorkeling. What a beautiful place with reef lining the
length of the island! Lucky for the lobsters that they are
out of season! The crystal clear waters show lots of life
with a variety of reef fish and coral. The evening provided
a party at the club with a buffett of steak and grouper and a
live band for dancing and more Guana Grabbers.
Race #3 we got a very respectable 3rd place and
we were thrilled with another Johnstone Trophy... this time
with a bronze dolphin on it. We were having great fun with
this little boat! We are sure we would have won the photo
contest had there been one! Everyone kept coming to tell
us how pretty she is and how much fun we looked like we were having!
They were right!
For the next lay day we took both boats over to
Marsh Harbour and checked in to the Conch Inn. Finally an
island with a bank! Cash was getting low and there are no
ATM's in the Abacos! Wallet restored, we gathered a few
friends and 6 of us took the skiff down to Pelican Reef, which
is a protected underwater park, and did some snorkeling.
This one provided us with a few beautiful rays and a sleeping
Nurse Shark along with all the other usual colorful reef life.
After awhile it looked like a storm was on the way so we pulled
anchor and went down to Little Harbour and were thrilled to find
that Pete Johnstone was there working in the foundry that day.
We had brought our trophies along and he autographed his artwork
for us. This is the island that has the art gallery and
foundry where they were made as well as a display of the beautiful
works he does that are shipped and sold worldwide
.Stef and Tom with Pete Johnstone
Also there, is Pete's Pub. A great little Tiki Bar
where we spent the next couple of hours before heading back up
to Marsh Harbour. Another party and off
Race #4 was the Hopetown race. This one dawned
with some problems for us. A short time before the start
we broke the double mainsheet block that hangs at the end of the
boom. We got on the radio and were able to borrow a single
block from a friend and made it work for the race but with heavier
air it was really difficult to manage the Main with only a single
purchase on it and this was a 12.5 mile race. We had a tough
time of it and finished last in class. But Hopetown is a
lovely place with the famous Hopetown light and
we climbed up to enjoy the view. It's quite spectacular from up
there. The party and awards were at the Harbour's Edge and
as usual drinks were free. We couldn't stay too long tho,
as we had to still tow "Munjack" back across the Sea
of Abaco to Marsh Harbour for the night and wanted to be there
before dark. All things do not go as planned. We had
loaned our skiff out to a friend that needed to get back to the
big island and by the time he returned there wasn't much daylight
left. Tom did a great job of navigating and finding our
way home in the dark! Bahamians are not exactly famous for
marking harbours or channels.
Morning brought us to the start line again, this
time with a rating of 350, for another buoys race and we managed
a 4th in this one. Not bad but a bit too much wind for us
to place in the running even with that rating. They adjusted
everyone elses as well.
The next day was a layday and a rainy one at that,
and we spent the time messing around with the boat and seeing
some of Marsh Harbour. That night was the final awards party
across the harbour at the Jib Room and the celebration was not
A bit of confusion with our hotel reservation left
us homeless for the night so thank you to Chris and the Yellow
Jacket crew for putting us up. Morning was time for an early
start. Another trip to the bank for more cash and then on
to Munjack for a great sail back to Green Turtle where she lives.
We were lucky to be ahead of the storms and made the 20 mile trip
in a swift 3 hours. We timed it so we were going across
the flats at high tide and that helped. After checking back
into our room at the club there we put the boat back in her slip
and had dinner at the club and a few drinks and some dancing before
calling it a night.
All vacations end too soon and next day was departure
day. We'll be back next summer!