Saturday, January 28th, DH and I woke up in the port of Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. The morning was gorgeous, lots of sun between the clouds. The port was bustling and there was a strong breeze, which would be perfect for our excursion: American’s Cup Regatta. I’ve been on the water before (kayaking, both open- and white-water; sailing catamarans and ferries) but I’ve never “sailed” or been part of a sailing crew.
The 12-Metre Challenge was a BLAST! It was quite a popular excursion and I can see why, it was just so much fun. The excursion guide, Dave, chose three “captains” and those captains selected their teams, putting everyone with their significant other(s) in the same groups. There were three yachts: Stars and Stripes, True North and Canada II. DH and I were selected by our “captain” (a very engaging and enthusiastic woman from Salt Lake City, UT) and we were assigned to True North – the heaviest of the three ships. Our captain, the actual captain, was Captain Ernie, who according to Dave has sailed enough “miles” to circle the globe at least three times (and they figure probably more). Captain Ernie also “read the wind”, and is a highly respected captain. We were asked what activity level we wanted to be involved in: light, medium, heavy. DH picked heavy and was selected for being a Primary Grinder. I requested medium duty and was assigned the duty of “Winch Wench”.
We boarded the yachts and took our positions up as Captain Ernie explained to his green grew (all us tourists) what we all needed to do. We got familiar with our positions as Ernie directed True North around the harbor all the while we were being told our course for the race and how we had to look for the buoys with flags to sail around.
The course memorized (yeah… not really), we were off and sailing. Rain clouds throwing down showers were heading toward us, but we were going to get wet anyway while sailing. Captain Ernie called out orders and we in True North pulled ahead. We held the lead for a good deal of the race until Stars & Stripes pulled some dirty pool and head a crew member (one of the tourists) Flash us. Then they had the audacity to have THREE crew members flash us. The men on True North were easily distracted and I yelled out, “Hey! Tits are tits… are we going to let them beat us!?” and we gained on then passed Stars and Stripes. Canada II was sadly behind the whole race. Our wind died a few times, but Captain Ernie with his mad-reading-the-wind skills had us moving quickly once more. We won our regatta with much rejoicing and with Star & Stripes coming aside, four ladies on crew flashing us again and one older gent showing us his backside.
This is a wonderful excursion, and even though I was apprehensive at first, afterall the yacht REALLY tips over in a stiff breeze, Captain Ernie and crew were exceptional and I never felt unsafe. I had a great time even if my manicure* of black nail polish was ruined (lesson learned: no manicure the day before going sailing).
After the regatta, DH and I headed back to the ship to grab lunch and then took the ferry into main Philipsburg to get some shopping done and meander our way back to the ship. We admired some Kabana jewlery, bought a Marahlago larimar ring, purchased a box of chocolates at The Belgian Chocolate Box (delivery to our cabin so they didn’t melt as we walked in port) and then stopped at Old Man Guavaberry Rum to try the rums and the Guavaberry Colada. We purchased a few bottles of rum (Almond, Vanilla, Lime) a bottle of the Mash Up (rum and guavaberry liquor; which I am drinking while writing this) and a bottle of guavaberry honey.
My disappointing stop was That Yoda Guy. *sigh* Sorry Yoda Guy! Your artwork is great, but the hype that your store was given was too much. Maybe I am too frugal for a TRUE Star Wars fan? I REALLY wanted to go through the Museum portion of the store, but without purchase, these weren’t the droids I was looking for. *sigh*
Sadly, I didn’t make it to Maho Beach (insert pouty, frowny face here). I really, REALLY wanted to make it to Maho Beach so I could snap pictures of planes taking off from Princess Juliana International Airport. All our research said that despite the small size of the island, the commute to and from the beach was going to make it impossible for us to get to the beach, spend some time and take photos and get back to the ship before it left. NEXT TIME!!!!!!!! You’ve been warned Maho Beach!
*A note to the ladies… if you are worried about your manicure – this is NOT the excursion to get really involved in. Pick “Light duty”.