Sunday 3 February, St.Maarten day7: Spent the day sailing on Steve’s tri and evening with crew.
After a quick dinghy ride to France, to avail of their phone signal, I head back the other way to meet up with the gang on Steve’s trimaran, Ineffable. It looks quite a speedy machine – let’s see what it can do under sail!
First thing you notice once onboard is that it’s slapping around on the water very noisily, as the outter hulls kiss the small wavelets. Multihull may not roll as monohulls, but they do have a weird motion of their own. It certainly “feels” like a light boat, as if it’s sitting on the water rather than in it. What is not light is the fully battened mainsail, which takes an age to hoist up, even on a large 2 speed electric winch.
Comparing boat speed with Cloudy Bay I can’t help thinking of the Tortoise And The Hare Story. Cloudy’s anchor would have been up in a flash, the mainsail would have been unfurled 5x faster and she would have already made several tortoise steps towards the destination. Meanwhile, Ineffable would still be “sleeping”: pulling up the anchor by hand and slowly hoisting the mainsail making no hare steps anywhere yet 🙂 But once the mainsail is up, mast rotated and some of the miles of spaghetti sorted out in the cockpit, we head off-wind and you feel the acceleration…. up to hare pace!
On the bow it has a blade style jib and in front of that a sail that they call a “reacher”, which has the cut of a genoa. Hard on the wind they can only use the jib. But then the dirty air from the furled reacher seems to mess up flow over the jib. I mention this and they tell me the reacher has to come down when going to windward. What? We have to remove that huge sail each time we come on the wind? ….. Oooph. Cloudy Bay would already be anchored at the new destination and the tea brewed 🙂 And as we practice in readiness for the regatta this weekend, that’s exactly what we do: reacher up, reacher down; spinnaker up spinnaker down. More sail changes than I’ve done in the last 2 years! But it’s fun doing all this while bouncing around on the trampolines between the hulls, working out what all the colorful spaghetti does and admiring all the latest racing hardware which is very fancy and clearly very pricy bits of kit.
After a few start practices, tacks and gybes we head upwind so we can try out the spinnaker. The wind is only about 8 knots and she is doing 6-7 upwind. It feels slow. Even Cloudy Bay the tortoise would do this speed upwind. I guess this machine needs lots of wind. Off the wind speed picks up to 10-11 knots with the spinnaker. And as we approach St. Maarten again the wind picks up to 14knots and we are doing 18 with the reacher. Steve let’s me take the helm. It’s perfectly balanced and seems to want to sail itself … no need for a helmsman! And the motion is very smooth because the main hull is now planning. But like all multihulls you see the water rushing on passed but you don’t really feel the speed. There’s no spray, no ploughing the waves apart … nice for a change but certainly different.
It’s clearly a fun machine to sail, but you need a crew to sail her properly and one that gets along and knows each other’s moves. These guys here are only recently together and it shows. There is Russ from Cornwall with girlfriend Misty (who swears lot!), Rob, a Korean-American and Steve the Captain and owner. All very friendly if you neglect to notice a few tensions between them. Yet again I feel blessed by my crew and boss – the one and only Oana! We get along so well and know each other’s moves (and moods!) inside out. I miss her and wish she could have had this trimaran experience with me.
Back on anchor we have drinks as the sun goes down then I head off back to France to call Oana to discuss our very different days. Near to Marigot I tie the dinghy to an old wreck and manage to get phone signal. An odd situation, me sitting in the dinghy in the middle of the bay and Oana at home snug in our flat on a cold winters night! Oana has had another nice day with family but is struggling to shake off the jet-lag. And, trying to avoid getting a cold or flu, which seems to be rampant in Bucharest this time of year. Oh, I don’t miss those inevitable unhealthy winter ailments!
Back at Cloudy Bay, Oana has left me the keys to the galley … I’ve been granted a 2 weeks visa so I can feed myself! So I breakout a FreyBentos pie and veg for dinner. I bought lots of FreyBentos in Gibraltar 3 years ago and we have never eaten one yet. These pies-in-a-tin remind me of student cooking. Infact that’s probably the last time I ate one! And yes, they are just as yummy as I remember them to be.
Then it’s out with the Ineffable crew at a bar called Jimmbo’s where everyone is watching the Super Bowl (America “football” final). I won’t comment on the game, but I think it’s the longest I’ve ever watched of American football. I still don’t understand it. It seems it’s all about big guys in tight trousers bumping into one another. They wear helmets, shoulder pads and gloves to protect themselves and each has a hankie hanging from his trousers in case there are tears. Oh and there is a Rugby ball in there somewhere, but you don’t often see it move! And the other thing that doesn’t move much is the match clock… it only counts time when there is action. So the last 5 mins of the game took about 1 hour! Oh, and I loved the subtitles, so us English can understand the commentary! But fun to watch and even more fun to observe others watching.
I bade farewell around 11:30pm. Before I left, Steve offers me to join them as crew for the regatta. Hmm, I may just do that.
An interesting day.