Time Bandit

It’s back to the Caribbean leaving a chilly USA east coast for the winter months in the sun.

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22 October 2023

The Old Magic

04 May 2024
Stuart Letton
We have a hurricane exclusion paragraph in our insurance policy, which requires us to be either south of 9 degrees, which means hot, humid and sticky. This latitude includes the delights of being up a muddy river in Guatemala or perhaps in the murder capital of the Caribbean, Trinidad. The latter is where most cruisers go to lay up their boats. Online, in the security forums it doesn't get a good rap.

"Trinidad and Tobago is a country definitely not known for safety, and you should take into consideration both the high rate of petty crime as well as the high murder rate in this country. Tourists are filled with disturbing stories from Trinidad and Tobago, but if you take all precautionary measures, you might just have a good time."

Might!

My cousin, who's married to a Trinidadian, simply refuses to go there.

Given all that, we prefer the alternative, which is to get north of 35 degrees. Unfortunately, it's well north of here. Fortunately, it has loads of places we quite like: Beaufort, Norfolk, New York, New England and such like. It's just a shame it's so far away.

So, lacking an alternative, and with 1700 miles to cover by the end of May, it was time to get pressing on. Right up until we got a message last week asking if we fancied making up an Outremer 51 class for the Round Antigua Race.

Now, racing is in our blood. Cut us through and, like seaside rock, you'll find more decades of racing than we'd like to admit to.

However, as I've learned from experience, keelboat racing is something that's best done in other people's boats. This extract from my "Forthcoming Book"....

"We were still tied to our desks, having started a business a few years after I'd had another of these "great ideas at the time" moments. Racing was in our blood, and a performance keelboat was at the front of our.....well, my mind. At the time, Jeanneau had just brought out their Sunfast 3700 something-or-other. Then, there was also the J-Boats, one of which I'd had an absolute blast on racing in the Caribbean with a bunch of guys from work, but that's another story and one probably best left untold to protect the guilty. What happened in Bombas stays in Bombas.

So, the search got started. Endless hours spent on the Internet, most of them looking at boats for sale. Not long afterwards, I joined one of my mates, Dougie, who will appear shortly, to crew in the winter weekend race series on the Clyde at Inverkip. "Perfect", I thought. "a great chance to see what's happening in the local race fleet these days". So, the following weekend, I drove down to Inverkip, joined the boat and headed out towards the start line.

Mayhem. Complete and utter mayhem. Before the ten-minute gun had gone, I watched one boat T-bone another. The noise of the crash, not to mention the shouting, was quite disturbing. And just a few minutes later, at the start, another splintering crash. Two boats, both trying to fit into a bit of water, only big enough for one, both screaming that they had RIGHTS!!! At a mark rounding a short while later, some Muppet who hadn't the vaguest clue about the racing rules barged in at a mark and crashed into the right-of-way boat, all the while shouting abuse at the other poor dumbfounded owner who was staring like a startled rabbit at his newly bent toe rail. I can tell you, it didn't take a genius to appreciate that while we'd been away from the race scene, keelboat racing had gone to the dogs. Too many folks with "all the gear and no idea" charging about in expensive, overpowered forty-plus foot yachts, clueless, full of testosterone and well insured. It wasn't for me. No way on this earth was I going to buy a new boat and join that zoo and have some dipstick splinter, my newly acquired fibreglass. It, therefore, made it a worthwhile weekend, firstly helping sort out my thoughts on what type of boat to get. Secondly, we got to see some yachting dodgems, which today would be classic YouTube "CRAZY YACHT CRASH MOMENTS!!!!"

And so, when the suggestion arrived that we get back on the race track, we were initially sceptical. We slept on it, checked with the insurance company and ultimately decided to give it a whirl. We met with the other two boats and agreed it was all just for fun, nothing serious, just a chance to see how the boats measured up against each other, and we'd see the island's east side.

We'd keep well clear and basically just shadow the other guys.

Right up until the first gun when, the old habits and adrenaline kicked in. It's just a shame. I thought the gun I heard was the five-minute when it was in fact the one minute.

You can't win them all.
Comments
Vessel Name: Time Bandit
Vessel Make/Model: Outremer 51
Hailing Port: Largs, Scotland
Crew: Anne and Stuart Letton
About: ex dinghy and keelboat racers now tooled up with a super sleek cat and still cruising around aimlessly, destination Nirvana...
Extra: Next up....the Caribbean. We've left South Africa in our wake and now off to Namibia, St Helena, Brazil, Suriname and into the Caribbean. Well, that' the vague plan. We'll see what happens.
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/timebandit/profile
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