It has occurred to me that there are two ways to plan your cruising. The first is to be destination driven, slavishly following a route like pilgrims plodding towards a shrine. The second is not to be rushed, staying wherever you find yourself until the urge to move on dawns naturally. I have to admit I used of be of the first persuasion – always eager to see what lies beyond the next headland, frustrated by any delays in a schedule far too rigid and nervy to be practical.
Such rigidity is almost unheard of in the Eastern Caribbean ‒ and believe me that’s by no means a criticism. I’ve learned a lot since we arrived out here in January and have come to suspect that my own faith in pre-planning is, if not fundamentally flawed, then certainly deserving a more relaxed reinterpretation of its values.
It’s been a frustrating few months. First two of my websites ‒ this one and books-for-sail.com were ruinously hacked by spammers, mainly from Eastern Europe. Efforts to repair them failed, the data too badly damaged, and it was decided to rebuild them from scratch using an entirely different CMS (Content Management System). Indeed, this blog is the first new posting since Offshore Sailor went back on line this very morning. Books for Sail will follow shortly.
Next my faithful Sony laptop expired ‒ worn out no doubt ‒ leaving me deprived of several very useful programs I needed to finish editing and illustrating an RYA Handbook (Starting Yacht and Keelboat Racing). Fortunately my even more ancient HP along with its equally outdated software still had just enough steam in it to allow me to limp towards the finishing tape.
But our big brash schedule wasn’t to be brushed aside lightly. We had decided to make a dash for it and sail up to Carriacou, an island (and part of Grenada’s nation state) some 30-odd miles to the north. But first we would swing into True Blue Bay ‒ less that half-an-hour’s motoring to the west ‒ and avail ourselves of one of our favourite waterside restaurants ‒ the Dodgy Dock (see photo). In the event we never even got our knees under the table. When lowering the anchor, a grinding noise signaled that all as not well with our electric windlass. Expensively not well.
The next morning saw us lifting the anchor by hand and returning to from whence we came in Prickly Bay. The windlass motor had failed but ‒ good news, oh joy! ‒ the nearest replacement parts were available ‒ though in the US. To my own astonishment the delays (though not the costs) hardly fazed me at all. Life in a crowded anchorage is like being a member of a village community. The people were generally pleasant, the social life both brisk and varied, and we were only thankful that our problem had emerged in a place with reliable communications. A couple of weeks, we were told. Let’s call it a month, our friends muttered and weren’t far wrong.
In the meantime there had been other mishaps with gear. The integrated fuel tank on our 2.5hp Mariner had cracked, soaking me in petrol; its bigger brother the 5hp Honda wouldn’t tick over and the stitching on our mainsail cover started to let go. Again the tank had to be flown in from the States; the Honda’s carburetor was stripped and cleaned; but at least all the seams on the cover could be over-stitched locally, this time with UV resistant thread.
By this time I was starting to suspect there must be something in the air. The pain to our pockets was inescapably excruciating, but Chele and I were growing accustomed to the change in pace. And we weren’t complaining. Our original hopes had been to get as far north as Dominica ‒ a jewel of an island ‒ but our ambitions were receding by the week.
“Go with the flow, Skip,” advised one of the helpful marina hands. And, d’you know what? I think we will.