Once a year, on the first friday of February, Bahamians from many surrounding islands flock to Little Farmer’s Cay for a fabulous race and party. The mailboat, “MV Captain C,” which brings most of the class “C” sloops to the island, arrived early Friday morning, trailing Bahamian music. Each crew then got to work installing the rigging and checking their sails.
The class “c” sloop is a wooden sailboat with a Bermuda rig, a boom nearly as long as the mast, and moving boards that the crew hikes out on to balance the wind. Originally designed as a fishing boat, this nimble single-masted sloop was invented in the Bahamas during the last 17th and early 18th century.
The winds were fairly light this year, so most vessels raced with three or four crew, all of whom seemed to be male. I picked a favorite early on, the Whitty K, fancifully identifying it as having my own name. Naturally the Whitty K won most of the races.
I paddled out to the races, which took place on Friday and Saturday, through the impossibly clear, turquoise waters around this little island, and spent two days dancing on the beach and talking to friends. Friday morning Mary, Sandy, and I also helped to run some silly games at Ocean Cabin. Thanks to the enthusiasm of our dear partners, the men’s “best legs” contest was a hit, but no one showed up for the women’s wet tee-shirt contest.
We got roped into “volunteering” for these games by the owner of Ocean Cabin, who seemed to think that we would find them hilarious and fun, even though no Bahamian would have been caught dead participating and we expressed little enthusiasm for promoting them. We wouldn’t have volunteered, but happened to be the first cruisers to walk up to his establishment, and Terry Bains can be very persuasive. Although more than 60 cruising yachts showed up on Friday, there wasn’t enough mass to get the games going. Most of the White folks left early Saturday morning, running from the cold front and strong winds from the west.
By the end of the races Saturday afternoon, the restaurant on the beach was packed with locals from all the surrounding islands, and we were among the ten or so sailboats that stayed behind, safely anchored off the South-Eastern end of the island. Motor boats packed with people kept on coming in to the restaurant on the beach, where we watched the races.