Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How Time Flies in Paradise

An FOD meeting (Friends of Denis - our Caribbean weatherman/sailor) on St. Maarten at the St. Maarten Yacht Club, by the bridge.

Our friends on Sheric (Sherry and Ric) at the Cruisers Party at the Buccaneer Beach Bar, St. Maarten (Cruising Outpost Magazine party hosted by Bob Bitchin and Jody)

Another party at Lagoonies, St. Maarten.  The agony never ends :)

Heineken Regatta fans greeting the racing sailors at the end of the day, as we come back through the bridge.

Racing Azura with Captain Steve in the back trimming the Cruising Chute (blue sail).

Admiral Maria getting ready for the Heineken Regatta.

The racing crew returning victorious, or something like that...

Returning through the Simpson Bay Bridge after a day of racing and celebrating!

Our friends Don and Donna who own Villa Rosa on St. Maarten who give us a break from living on the water by letting us stay with them (where we get to take long hot showers).

 Captain Steve and some R&R at Villa Rosa in the infinity pool.  St. Barths is in the distant background somewhere.

S/Y Aspen – March 29, 2017 – Log #149
Aspen Position: 18 degrees 02’ N  063 degrees 05’ W
St. Maarten, Caribbean

7 weeks!  That is how long we spent in St. Maarten/St. Martin. 

Captain Steve got to race on a 56 foot Swan sailboat named Azura in the Heineken Regatta, of all things.  His job was spinnaker trimmer and rail meat.  Rail meat are the people who hang their bodies over the life lines on the high side of a racing sailboat.  The added weight of many crew members acting as rail meat helps the boat to sail faster.

Rail meat was kind of fun because there was not a lot of thinking about what to do when the big seas pummeled our legs as the boat screamed forward to a marker in the middle of the sea, closer to St. Barths than St. Maarten.

The only problem was when the boat went to the other tack - meaning that the boat turned suddenly to put the sails on the other side.  The experienced captain and crew neglected to tell Captain Steve that he needed to QUICKLY (like lightning) move his body to the OTHER side of the boat and hang over the lifelines there.

So when the boat first tacked, Captain Steve quickly noticed he was alone on the low side of the boat, with the rest of the rail meat perched high above him.  In a flash (well kind of a slow sprint), Steve clawed his way up the mountain of a boat to the other rail and hung there, waiting for the next tack.  That was exciting!

We rounded the mark far out at sea and POW, the spinnaker shot away, filling with a huge whoosh in front to Azura.  Captain Steve went into action and managed to get the proper spinnaker line tight around a huge winch to hold the sail in place. 

Once again, no one bothered to tell Steve that he could not take his eyes off the spinnaker because he had to constantly trim the spinnaker until the end of the race.  Captain Steve still has a neck ache from that ordeal.

Right at the finish line, another similar sized racing boat tried to beat Azura.  That didn’t go over well with Azura’s racing crew and captain.  So with an unplanned, wind howling, screaming maneuver of the boat and spinnaker (with the other boat less than 1 FOOT from Azura’s bow), we thundered across the line without hitting anything.

Captain Steve was heard saying afterward, “I don’t see a lot of ocean racing in Aspen’s future”.

After the Heineken Regatta, Maria and Captain Steve enjoyed the many restaurants, beaches, friends (both sailing and land friends) and parties on the island for the next month, while working on Aspen of course.

Maria went to women’s only lunches where the female sailors talk about everything and anything, except boat problems!  Over 30 women show up for those luncheons too.

With our boat projects finished, at least for now, we are headed to Antigua.  The winds never do this, as we have all heard before.  But the forecast predicts we can lay Antigua on Aspen’s bow and not get beat up going southeast.  We will see!

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Half Dutch and Half French

Our sailing friends Cindy and Dan on Sitatunga at the Bitter End on Superbowl Sunday.

The Bitter End, Virgin Gorda, BVI's

 Maria enjoying the Bitter End beach, BVI's
Biras Creek, North Sound, BVI's
Sailing on Aspen with Cindy and Dan on a shopping trip to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, BVI's

 Maria at the Customs office in North Sound, BVI's.  We are checkout out of the country to sail further south.

It is Heineken Regatta time in Sint Maarten!!!

Our view of the Lagoon at Sint Maarten, watching the jets take off too.

Our marina docks at Heineken Race time.  Maria is standing across from Aspen who is dwarfed by the larger sailboats!

Our sailing friends Sherry and Ric from Sheric.  We are enjoying the cruisers party!

Captain Steve helping a 72 foot racing yacht named Sapphire dock next to Aspen in the marina.

S/Y Aspen – March 1, 2017 – Log #148
Aspen Position: 18 degrees 02’ N  063 degrees 05’ W
Sint Maarten, Caribbean

Aspen got a great weather window to sail further into the little latitudes and we arrived on the dual island nation of Sint Maarten/St. Martin.  It is great to be back on this island that is one of our favorite places in the Caribbean.

What could be better?  French food, French groceries, Dutch grocery stores with lots of USA items to choose from and great island friendliness.

Oh yes, there are lots of boat parts to be had on this island too!  Aspen loves to be pampered with the right things to fix whatever is broken at the moment.

Our neighbors from Colorado, Art and Liz, arrived on a Celebrity cruise ship one day and we toured all around the island.  French food, pastries, the town of Marigot and Orient Beach were at the top of their list of places to visit.  The weather cooperated and the tour was lots of fun.  We even got them back to their ship before it sailed away.

Simpson Bay Marina, where Aspen is tied up, had a volunteer day at a local orphanage for any sailors wanting to help out.  Maria and I painted interior walls all day in really hot conditions.  The resident’s smiling faces made our work worth the effort.  After our day of labor we got to visit Ile de Sol Marina, home of Superyachts from all over the world and enjoy a BBQ put on by the marina as a way of thanking us for our time.

Now it is Heineken Regatta time on the island.  Heineken Regatta is the largest in the Caribbean with over 200 boats racing around the island for nearly a week with parties everywhere.  Our marina docks are strewn with piles of extra sails, parts, anchors, and a few wayward sailors who didn’t quite make it back to their boat from the late night parties.  What an experience this is for little Aspen to be nestled among these tricked out racing boats, not to mention Aspen’s crew who are looking forward to seeing UB40 play at the finale this weekend.

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Also, our book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at