Roan's Account: Farmers Cay
01 February 2013 | Farmers Cay, Exumas
After leaving Black Point we headed down to Farmers Cay for the Class C sailboat races. These 18 ft. boats were over canvased like you cannot believe. At 30 ft. tall the mast height to the length of the boat was almost 2:1, the sailboats where rigged like a Cat Boat with the mast far forward and without a jib, this allowed the boom to stretch far behind the boat to around 24 ft. long! Every aspect of these racing boats was at the extreme, they had a full keel around 4 ft. deep and when they were heading upwind they had to climb out on long planks to keep the boat as level as possible. With almost no freeboard they constantly kept the bilge pumps running and with water pouring over the bow and the sides it was necessary to keep bailing.
We headed down to the beach with our friends Bruce & Kristen from “Southern Yankee” to see if there was a space on the boats to go race in the regatta. My dad Bruce and Kristen, all found boats to go on. Unfortunately when they went for a practice sail the boat that Kristen was on needed to kick someone out . Unfortunately they kicked Kristen out because she was the lightest (Their Loss). Now, American sailboat racing is a structured event with an exact starting time and with Race Committee boats standing by just in case something happens and to make sure nobody cheats. However, a race in the Bahamas is totally island time. The scheduled time was “around 10:30”. We went up at 1pm and asked the DJ/Commentator when the race would start. He turned down the music and told us “The race will probably start around 2pm but they’re calling a captains committee to see if the race is actually starting with this wind.” And then cranked it back up. (It was blowing around 20 knots and the boats all had small sails up). Fortunately the race did start and only an hour after the DJ predicted. My dad and Bruce managed to get on one of the boats.
The race started with all of the boats anchored roughly between the 2 markers, and when the gunshot sounded the people at the bows of the boat hauled up the anchor as fast as possible to get the boat going. Bruce’s boat had a perfect start and were in second for the beginning. But on my dads boat disaster struck, they hadn’t put enough anchor out and in a few moments the anchor was up and the boat was being blown backwards. On top of that my dad slid off and grabbed onto one of the steel stays slicing his hand open and hitting his shin on the side of the boat as he swung up, and still something else had to go wrong. The boat had been having trouble with the mast track because their was a kink in it so they started the race with the sail not even fully up and when they did put it up it didn’t reach to the top (that was on purpose their was too much wind for any more sail). Bruce’s boat managed to get 3rd and there was a small gap and even my dads boat managed 4th out of 8. But that was only because 1 boat cheated, another boat sunk another had its mainsail ripped of the track, and the last one sunk. But after being fairly banged up we decided not to stay so we hiked back to the boat and got bandaged up.
The Next day we had to do school. But, my dad went over to the beach to watch. He said that one boat sunk. And we where excited to hear from Kristen who had been promised a spot on the boat. Unfortunately the person went back on their promise and she didn’t get to race. But we heard that the race was pretty much the same thing happened again a boat sunk, another capsized, disaster everywhere. But apparently Bruce’s boat got tangled up with another boat’s boom, accidentally making them capsize. Then a power boat zoomed up and rammed them pushing them towards the rocks They were about to send a guy over their to throw him over board (Bruce said he was really small) when they managed to fend of the power boat. Later they talked to someone who was a director In the Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism. Apparently this happens sometimes, a friend of a local who was in a capsized boat would ram someone who THEY thought was to blame for losing the race.
I had a great time at Farmers Cay and even though my dad said that the boats where very dangerous with the boom low to the deck so that you could easily get brained, or blasted over board if you didn’t duck into the cockpit…….I would have loved to be in one.