In her younger days, my mom enjoyed racing sailboats. When Duke Power built the Cowan’s Ford Dam, my Grampy, as a Duke Power employee, purchased lakefront property on what was to become Lake Norman on the cheap. It didn’t take long before Mom, recalling her summers with her grandparents at their summer home on Prudence in the Narragansett Bay, decided to take up sailing. She took it up with such enthusiasm, that Grampy followed suit and became quite the racer himself. Soon, Mom had her Sunfish, her brothers had Hobie Cats, and Grampy purchased a larger keel boat, complete with cabin that he named Margie (after my grandmother). Summers were spent on the lake and on the water. My Grampy died when I was in the second grade, so I only have a few memories of time at the lake sailing with my mom’s family. My sisters and I would climb into Margie and play house in her cabin. Grampy would take the whole family out on the boat, and then my mom would give us individual rides on the Sunfish. These were good memories that made me happy. To this day, whenever I see any kind of sailboat, it makes me think first of Mom and second of Grampy, who died when were so young and we didn’t get the privilege of having more memories with.
After the first night of our cruise, we woke up in the harbor of St. Martin. We were surrounded by hundreds of sailboats, because the Heineken Regatta was taking place. It was a beautiful way to start the day.
It was beautiful to sit and watch the boats on a day with perfect sailing conditions, but we had our own sailing adventure to get to. Over on the Dutch side of the island, we were going to take part in the 12 meter challenge and get to race in a sailboat actually raced in the famed America’s Cup sailing event.
In fact, we lucked out. We crewed the Stars & Stripes 87, Dennis Conner’s famed 12 meter boat that beat the Australians to bring the America’s cup back to the USA after Conner’s dramatic defeat in 1983. It was pretty exciting. Everyone was given a different job on the boat as a part of the crew. David was a main grinder, who had a heavy responsibility, while I was given the task of handling one of the ropes and wenches in the back. I started out okay, but some two out of the four people who were assigned to crew in the rear of the boat didn’t make it. One lady got sick, and one man fell when the sailboat was heeling pretty high in the water and hit his head. So, the job in the back became much more stressful as there were fewer hands to help.
There was no dramatic victory this time though, as the Canadian boat beat us by a hair. Still, the day was so much fun. The wind was perfect, the water color was beautiful, and I spent the day thinking about Mom and Grampy.
I don’t have any pictures during the race, as my camera was stowed and we were busy with our tasks, but here are the way things looked before and after.
Here is the Stars and Stripes in the water.
The views of St. Maarten and Phillipsburg were lovely from the boat.
David was sitting in the middle of the boat to do the grinding.
As I stated earlier, I was in the back.
Here is a picture of the whole crew:
I loved being out on the water. In fact, I really want to go back and do the same thing again with Mom.