The Caribbean 1500 final results are announced

At a Friday night awards banquet at the Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola the results of the Caribbean 1500 mile race were announced – Spirit came in 2nd place in the Cruising A Division, was awarded the Tempest Trophy representing ironically the boat best reflecting the “spirit of the rally”, and also Leah, our skipper, was awarded the “Youngest Skipper” award.

The Tempest Trophy has been awarded each year since 1990 to the yacht that best combines seamanship, enthusiasm, and helping others, and fittingly was first given to a boat that also assisted another with a rudder problem. This award has a permanent home at Peg Legs restaurant in Nanny Cay and we’re humbled to have Spirit’s name engraved with the others yachts before us.

A sincere and thanks to the entire crew who joined me and made the Caribbean 1500 such a special event – Leah, Erik, Pat, Flora, and Brandon.

The Caribbean 1500 Fleet

The Caribbean 1500 fleet

Spirit's final stretch to a 2nd place finish

Spirit’s final stretch to a 2nd place finish

Leah representing Spirit's crew receiving the Tempest Award

Leah representing Spirit’s crew receiving the Tempest Trophy

Spirit's crew - Brandon, Erik, Pat, Leah, Flora & Dick

Spirit’s happy crew – Brandon, Erik, Pat, Leah, Flora & Dick


Back in the Caribbean

The last eight days were filled with just about everything one might expect as Spirit raced to the Caribbean from Portsmouth, Virginia in an annual migration of sailboats south – The Caribbean 1500. Over 35 boats participated and while the final results are still being calculated based on handicaps and the amount of time boats used their engines, we think we’ll be pleased with our final results as we were one of the top finishers.

The rally got off to an unexpected early start as pending Atlantic weather systems caused the organizers to move the start time up one day. When the announcement was made everyone was scrambling to get their boats ready and crews in place, many not expected to arrive by the new start time. To accommodate all these realities, they changed the format to “total elapsed time” from start to finish – a big sigh of relief as even one of our crew had flight delays. We didn’t start until almost 8 hours after the first boats crossed the starting line at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Our start was anything but spectacular – no wind and bobbing around like a cork. Fortunately, that didn’t last long and Spirit’s sails filled and we were sailing south. Our first goal was to cross the always-challenging Gulf Stream at its narrowest point to minimize the time spent amidst the confluence of winds and currents.

One of the pleasures of this crossing was the joy in shedding clothes as we moved from chilly temperatures at the beginning to warmer latitudes. The weather conditions were comparable to our Atlantic crossing last November, with the exception of larger sea states (bigger waves).

A few trip highlights;

An ailing sea bird landed on Spirit’s foredeck in much need of some tender loving care – it was flat out tired. After a day of intense nursing by Leah and Flora, our new friend “Jonathan” flew off, but only after circling the boat which we were sure was Jonathan’s way of expressing gratitude.

A Mayday call was heard on the radio from another one of the boats stating a lost rudder- which in the challenging seas was not good. We were the closest boat (about 10 miles away) so we diverted our course and stood by for any needed assistance. After the ailing boat’s calls to the Coast Guard, and event organizers, the skipper finally was able to resolve the issue – not a “lost rudder” but rather rudder linkage that needed fixing. The sailing south was “spirited” with the exception of about 20 hours when the wind decided to go on vacation requiring us to reluctantly start the engine so we could all be home for Christmas. The good news was that all the other boats did the same thing. From that point forward it was some of the fastest sailing ever experienced by our young boat. We had the colorful Spinnaker flying for almost a whole day but doused it after discovering a small tear, which was promptly tended to by using special Spinnaker tape from our sail’s “first-aid kit”.

As in past crossings, Pat, who in his next life wants to be an expert fisherman, tried his best to feed the crew with fresh Mahi Mahi or Tuna. Despite his best efforts… The photo below says it all.

We crossed the finish line at 7:11 am, seven days and fourteen hours after the start, after which we were greeted at the Nanny Cay Marina with horns and, more importantly, rum punches, and a few more rum punches.

It’s time now for Spirit to once again play in the warm and colorful waters of the Caribbean.

Unsettled seas in the Gulf Stream

Unsettled seas in the Gulf Stream

Sunset in the Bermuda Triangle

Sunset in the Bermuda Triangle

Our newest crew member - Jonathan

Our newest crew member – Jonathan

Leah and Flora giving Jonathan a drink of water

Leah and Flora giving Jonathan a drink of water

Pat's fishing triumph

Pat’s fishing triumph

Sunrise over the British Virgin Islands

Sunrise over the British Virgin Islands

Spirit's track to the British Virgin Islands

Spirit’s track to the British Virgin Islands

Spirit's crew upon arrival - rum punches in hand

Spirit’s crew upon arrival – rum punches in hand


A last minute announcement

This is a brief post for those of you who are planning to follow Spirit’s progress down to the British Virgin Islands with the Caribbean 1500’s fleet tracker.

Because of a last minute change in start time due to impending Atlantic weather systems (we’re leaving Portsmouth today, a day earlier) the organizers have decided on a “rolling start” – boats will not be starting at the same time, but rather crossing the starting line throughout the day. Each boat’s overall position in the event will be based on total elapsed time to the BVI, handicap adjusted. We plan on starting sometime mid-afternoon, while others will be stating earlier.

I hope this isn’t too confusing – we wanted to make sure everyone tracking us knew that the location of any one boat in the “pack” is not an indication of their rally position. Having said that, regardless of start times we’d love to see Spirit out front to satisfy our team’s competitive spirit.

The next post will be from Tortola, BVI in a little over a week when we can recap our experience.