New Year’s Eve! What a day… just back in from a GREAT sail in the Dink. Circumnavigated Frenchman’s Cay. Took just under three hours, but the time went by so fast! Damn, i love the feeling of being out there, 1/2 a mile from land, thumping along over 4′ waves, steering by the wind and the distant hills of St. John.
Sailors waved, and powerboaters stopped to ask if i was alright. Alright? Incredible! The best boat i saw was a ship. Literally. Running down out of Soper’s Hole, i had just sheeted in for the reach around the west end of the Cay, when i shifted position and saw the Stad Amsterdam rounding the point in the opposite direction, about 100′ away. Wow. Just wow. Cappy Tom’s stories of crossing the Atlantic aboard the Stad now have a whole new (real) context. What a sight! Of course, i promptly gybed around and paralleled her course awhile to better take in the view.
For those who care, she was setting the fore course, upper and lower foretops, upper and lower maintops, main t’gants’l, mizzen topmast stays’l, and inner and outer jibs. This is only the second proper “ship” i’ve ever seen first-hand, and the first under sail.
Learned firsthand the great utility of the gunter rig this afternoon as well; to make the passage under the Frenchman’s Cay bridge, i headed up, dropped the topmast, mast, and boom into a bundle on the gun’l, braced the tiller to port with my foot, and paddled merrily to starboard under the bridge. Past the bridge (and downwind of it), i carefully stood, restepped the mast, sent up the topmast, and ran off to complete the circumnavigation. Ah, what once looked too complex and un-neccessary has been explained through usage. What else in life may well work that way?


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