Spring appeared again in Italy last weekend just as I flew out to join another yacht for the St Barth’s Bucket 2011 in St Martin…. Yeh to the winter sun of the Caribbean and to lots of chaos and enjoyment at a big boat regatta. As SAUDADE is in the shed being painted  I have flown out to join another 44m yacht which, Lady B. She is brand new and run by friends of mine, so I was fortunate enough to be on the crew list and to join the fun and games of this event. It is the 25th anniversary of the Bucket Regattas this year so the turn out of yachts is incrediable with some of the largest around such as Maltese Falcon and Mirabella V being the biggest of the fleet.  There are several classes this year for the speed machines, the dames and the grand dames

Joining as race crew was something I have been wanting to do for ages as I am normally the regular chef onboard and have the race crew fly in to join us. So the tables were turned and in I flew, only to really help out and do some deck work, but as per my character I cannot just sit around and have ended up cooking ashore and doing sandwiches for race crew, and helping the chef out should he need some for all the extra guests we have onboard for racing… which can get up to 26 ! We are like bumble bees around honey in our yellow shirts onboard the boat !

Days are manic, up at 5 but today my body decided that 4 am would be better so I had a chance to get in some yoga which my body is crying out for as from 5 am onwards I am go, go, go, so now having had just that extra hour I can sit and watch the sunrise over our pool at the villa overlooking the surf rolling into the beaches down below us. We have 5 villas ashore, all scattered rather a long way away from one another which has made an interesting feat for our first night when Sonia, the yachts fill in chef and now my partner in crime, had to drive the boys and their bags all over the place to get them settled in after we had sailed from SXM….but hey she got them all settled and then we arrived at our villa and wow.. the four of us settled in far too quickly only to leap up early and disappear from a place we would all like to be able to spend a day at !!! but no we are here to race so send our days looking up at the island as we race around her which is just as much fun !

It is back to sandwich making but at least I am not up to 75 a day for this regatta as there are fewer of us onboard, so I am only having to make 40 and with the others in the villa we have a great production line going cutting, filling, rolling and sealing for the day and then we charge down to the harbour of Gustavia which is filled with incrediable super yachts of all sorts of sizes above 30m, some new some old, some modern classics some super racers. It is a real mix of talent not only in looks but speed !

Days just fly by with me not even realising that the lunch hour has passed, as the adrenaline flows, runners are trimmed in, we are on a heel so legs over the side, now on a reach prepping up the spinnaker for the downwind leg, trimming the sheets, and finally the sandwiches appear for the crew whilst the guests have been having gourmet wraps or snacks… the fruit on sticks is devoured by all, ages and sizes ! My mind is racing with ideas for our summer season and regatta days as I have plenty to prepare for and heaps of new ideas I want to try out not only on the crew but guests as well. The recipes flow from friends, books, magazines and of course the internet which we all depend on these days especially as we travel around so much in our lives living onboard the boats.

The mix of crew onboard is great, some I know from other yachts, others I have not seen for 16 years, others not as long. Familiar faces always help make the transition really easy for us and when you work onboard these boats it is easy to slip into the role  you have been assigned by the captain or deck leaders. We have professional racers who race around the world solo or in what is now the Volvo but back in their day was the Whitbread ! others who work and race on other Super yachts and others who prostitute themselves out to several boats during the season as race crew as they do as many regattas as they can fit into the Mediterranean summer and then they shoot of in other directions around the world doing other regattas depending on the time of year. We have all had to come together to form a team and race the boat for the owner so he can show off his new boat and race around St Barth ! Always an interesting period as characters come out in times of stress but we have leaders who undertake the role of sailing the boat to the best of her abilities with us handling all the equipment under their commands ! There has been no shouting, no angry voices but firm and to the point with plenty of laughter under way !  We had two bad training days as we ripped two sails, one of which we fortunately were able to fix back in St Martin where two of our crew went over with it and spent 7 hrs sewing up the rather large rip… but yesterday she flew again with no problems and we wooled her up and she sits waiting for us this morning on the foredeck to be hoisted later on today.

Time to get on … need to get down into Gustavia the port of St Bart’s where there are plenty of yachts on the dock also vying for bread and fresh supplies in the supermarket before another day of fun in the sun….