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dannygoesdiving This is a blog & photo journal of the trips that I (Danny) and Jo (wifey) have taken over the past few years.

St Valentines Cup 2015 , Turks & Caicos

TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS | Saturday, 14 February 2015 | Views [481]

Having spent the last couple of years enjoying our travels around the world, we have decided that this year we should concentrate more on experiences closer to home (its also cheaper !). So the first thing on our Turks and Caicos calender is the St. Valentines Day Cup Model Sailboat Races.

Its an annual event that takes place at Bambarra beach, Middle Caicos, now in its fithteenth year. It began as a milennium project in 2000 to revive the traditional hand carved model sailboats – a beloved toy in bygone years – this event is now a major feature on the TCI calendar each year with over 50 model sailboats boats participating in four race classes.

These boats are built in Bambarra, Middle Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands, from large branches of the "gum - elemi" tree , (Bursera simaruba) a Caribbean softwood tree, commonly called Gumbo Limbo, found throughout the Turks & Caicos Islands.

The sail plan reflects all the actual rigging found on a full size sloop, stays/shrouds can be tightened as needed, sails hoisted/furled with sheets as normal. Each boat has its weatherboard to stabilize it in the water as the gum - elemi wood is very light and there is no weight in the keel of these sailboats.

This type of model boat was a common childhood treasure, children and adults involved in carving, building and racing their sailboats. An energetic and active sport, beloved by participants and spectators, the boats are sailed in the shallow waters by running alongside to adjust the tiller and trim the sails!

The ferry service makes the whole experience nice and easy, offering a combo ticket that includes both a ferry to North Caicos and then a bus service onto Bamabarra Beach. That said, its obviously an island experience ! That meant that despite booking a ferry slot, it still ended up as a disorganised free for all, with poor planning, too many people and too few boats - we ended up arriving on time and waiting over 90 minutes before being able to catch a ferry. 

The north shore (the ferrys normal route) was far too choppy for the ferry so we headed over the shallow banks and on the opposite sides of the islands to reach North Caicos. This was a real treat as having used the ferry on a number of occasions this was the first time we had travelled this route, offering us a different view of the islands. We jumped off the ferry and scrambled onto the bus to prevent another delay - the bus was one of the US yellow school buses and was a great way to travel, sitting higher up gave us great unrestricted views as we travelled through the 2 islands to Bamabarra Beach. The journey here had already made our day - and there was still corona to drink !

It was a beautiful day - blue skies and blue waters; first stop off was a couple of coronas, followed by cracked conch and mac n' cheese from one of the local eateries that had set up along the beach for the day.

We mingled, catching up with the people we knew, watched the boat races, listened to the conch blowing competition and strolled along the near but deserted beach.

All too soon it was time to board the bus and head for home. It took us 8 years, but finally we had made it to the Middle Caicos St Valentines Cup.

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