In our four years of owning Spartan, we’ve mostly only had day-sail guests. So, we were a bit anxious about having guests that would be staying aboard for a week or so. But the short answer is, it works very, very well, despite the fact that Spartan is not really designed with guests in mind.
In any given anchorage, Spartan’s overall length is less than average. Of the 12 boats in the ICW rally, Spartan was one of the smallest. And by smallest, I don’t just mean length. While we are a few feet shorter than average in length, where Spartan is particularly smaller than average is on sheer cubic feet of interior space. Most modern boats hold their widest width from midship to stern. If it’s 12 feet wide at midship, a modern boat will be 12 feet wide at the stern. But Spartan is of an older generation which put more emphasis on things like looking pretty in the water and a technical thing that provides extra safety and comfort called ‘reserve displacement’.
Reserve displacement isn’t a sailor term. It’s a naval architect term that means something like “more eager to stay on top of the water”. If you were an enormous giant, and you picked up both Spartan and a more modern sailboat and put them into your bath, you might notice reserve displacement in action. When you lay one of your giant hands over the decks of a modern boat and the other over Spartan, you’d find that Spartan resists that downward pressure from your giant hand much more than a modern boat does.
The downside of having reserve displacement is less interior volume. Spartan has less room for people and their stuff than a modern boat of the same length. Spartan has one stateroom (that’s sailor talk for bedroom) and one head (that’s sailor talk for bathroom). A year ago, we rented a modern boat in the BVIs. Although it was only two feet longer than Spartan, it had two staterooms, two heads, and a lazarette so large, (sailor talk for locker) we were practically speechless. Instead, Spartan has wonderful lines. Beauty, it seems, always comes at cost.
After half a year aboard, we have not found the diminished interior volume of Spartan to be much of a problem. Of course, you can use more space, but we are comfortable aboard. But what happens when you double the crew size? Well, it worked out quite well, actually.
Two large tubs of tools that normally occupy the quarterberth (sailor talk for a bed you can squiggle into) would go out into the cockpit each night and return again in the morning. Our guests, Michael and Lori, are sailors as well, and knew enough to pack lightly using soft bags. We gave them the stateroom, Kath slept on a settee (sailor talk for couch) in the salon (sailor talk for living room) and I slept in the quarterberth. Michael and Lori had their own room with a door they could close and I had the ability to do my nightly worry rounds – checking our holding, our depth, the winds, and enjoying the 3am moonlight, without waking them. We had plenty of food and water and I think we were all quite comfortable with the whole arrangement.
But enough about the spacial logistics, let’s talk about fun stuff.
We had a great time! We sailed, we swam, we snorkeled, we hiked, we ate and drank, we watched sun sets, we relaxed, we played games, read books, and then the next day we did it all again somewhere anew. Michael and Lori flew into Staniel Cay while we readied the boat with fuel, water and victualling (yes, that’s sailor talk for grocery getting). After a night on the dock and a day on the island, we slipped the lines and moved to the nearby Pig Beach anchorage for a quiet evening aboard. The next day, winds were brisk from the east, so we sailed off the anchor and had a great beam reach most of the way to Emerald Rock on Warderick Wells Cay. Our last tack was into the wind for a few miles. The high hills nearby blocked the winds nicely for a comfortable anchorage in 20kts of wind.
After two nights at Emerald Rock, snorkeling, hiking and enjoying the sun, we headed back down to Soldier’s Cay to visit the snorkeling site known as “The Aquarium”. Winds were now out of the SE – against us – and still high, so it was not the most comfortable sail, but it was enjoyable. Michael and Lori were enjoying the snorkeling, so I knew they’d like the aquarium. We snorkeled long enough for several other dinghies to arrive and depart again, then enjoyed a quiet night with a mile of shoreline to ourselves.
Our trip from Soldiers Cay back to Pig Beach started with a pleasant downwind tack, followed by a couple hours of unpleasant uphill sailing. The wind was still against us, but the water was choppier than it had been, which made it difficult to make progress toward our destination. We fought with it for about 1 hour, then spent the next two with the engine on, crashing through the waves. Once we settled into our Pig Beach anchorage, Michael and Lori took the dingy over to the Thunderball grotto for some more snorkeling.
I thought grottos were just only found in playboy mansions, but apparently, this one is family friendly. It’s a dome of rock that you can enter at low tide. There are some holes in the dome that light the interior. And there’s coral throughout. In the 1950’s, it was used in the filming of the James Bond movie, Thunderball. It’s a big attraction here, along with the pigs on the beach. (For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the pigs attract so much attention, but this is a nice anchorage with lots of depth, room and town amenities nearby. )
Michael and Lori left yesterday and we were sad to see them go. There was no “whew!” to say after they left. We weren’t grateful to be putting things back to normal or for getting more space. We were only sad to see them leaving. That’s a good sign of a successful visit, I would say! Of course, Lori and Michael did so many things to help make this a success. First of all, Lori is now the guru of flight travel to small Bahamian islands. She followed our movements and kept changing their flight plans to follow our travels. They also brought us cookies and boat parts that are hard to find here. They made great meals from meager supplies, and were always able to go with the flow when plans changed (and plans changed constantly.) I’m hoping they felt as positively about the trip as we do. From all indications, they had a great time, in relative comfort.
As a raving extrovert, I got a lot of energy out of having them with us, and now I’m looking forward to our next crew arrival with even more excitement. But that is still a few weeks out, so until then, we will be working our way down to Georgetown, in no hurry.