Leaving Trinidad

“Where is Rick?” I asked. I glanced about our catamaran. Lockers were open. Gear was on the deck. Meanwhile, our catamaran was moving toward the water. Henry, age six, was the only child aboard. He was weeping near hysteria. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to Keegan,” he wailed.

I continued to gather up our things, storing cleaning rags, and open containers of oily tools. And, I called Rick on his cellphone. It was the first of several calls that I made to him.

”Can you buy a top up card for your cellphone?” Rick asked.

“Rick, we are moving toward the water.” And, as I’m speaking, I see Betty, age 12, race away on a bicycle. Then, I see Paul, age 9 – who has a birthday in February and is soon to be double digits – begin to carry things to our boat, including our gangplank, which has been left behind – so swift was our departure. And, where is Karen?

The urgency to depart was driven by the tides. Power Boats was committed to getting us into the water during high tide. Rick was just finishing up at the main office, paying our bill.

Our friends from other cruising boats came to send us off. Staff from the Power Boats grocery store came out of their shop to wave goodbye. And, one of our contractors, Philip, got off our boat using a step-ladder. He was just finishing with some last-minute details. If he stayed any longer, he would be on his way with us, leaving Trinidad and heading to Grenada.

One by one, our kids emerged – convinced to climb the ladder that put them on top of our bow. And, Henry got to say goodbye to his friend, Keegan.

Don Stollmeyer, CEO of Power Boats personally delivered us to the water. And, snapped our photo – partly for insurance reasons, but also because he is a class act. “We need to align the starboard rudder,” Don said, Turn the wheel to starboard.”

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Rick with Don Stollmeyer

In the shallow water, I could see small fish swimming below our boat. But, we remained firmly attached to the Power Boats trailer. Finally, Rick arrived, heavily laden with jugs of Acetone. It seemed he had enjoyed one last shore-based shopping spree.

As time passed, the tide was going out and Power Boats edged us further into the water. With our engines on and tested by Rick, we were released from the trailer. And, as I watched from the deck, ready with a fender, we waved goodbye. Faces got smaller and smaller. And, I wondered when we might meet again.

The sky was overcast. Rain was in the air. Rick manoeuvred our boat around other boats. Don offered us a place to refuel and get water. But, we were fully laden and ready to go.

And, on our boat was Svetlana Yudina. Svetlana, or Lana as we call her, has a passion for sail racing. She was looking for a ride to Grenada. As it happens she knew our friends on SV Maple. Lana had met them in Turkey when she was skippering for a charter yacht company.

Lana is easy company. Lana began sailing in 2013, and has traveled across the Atlantic on a race boat. She has sailed more than 17,000 nautical miles.

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Lana, preparing to service a Lewmar winch

We anchored in Scotland Bay, about an hour away from Power Boats for a few hours. And, for the first time in three months I felt the powerful force of wind. The wind pushed us back as we anchored and the chain went tight. It was a good hold. I looked out a portlight and felt the world swivel under me.

Not wanting to feel seasick, I took a Stugeron Forte pill. Yet, still in the night, as we sailed, the sea pulled at my stomach. I had envisioned making a chocolate cake. In the darkness, under a red lamp (to preserve night vision), I would make Lana a tea. That was not to be.

As we decided, Rick would keep watch until 1 a.m. Then, Lana and I would take a turn until 5 a.m. Just before my shift I awoke to hear the sound of racing horses, a kind of thub-thub as the wind hit the sails. The sensation was of flying.

“This, does not feel like a conservative night sail,” I said to Rick. Lana’s eyes flashed and gleamed. “I feel like we are racing,” she said. The engines were off, and we were sailing just beyond 10 knots. A large wake streamed behind us.

Rick was ready to go to bed. Lana and Rick furled the head sail, just a bit. Then, Lana and I sat taking handheld compass readings of passing ships.

We had switched off AIS, which allows our details to be seen by other boats. AIS also allows you to see details about other boats, such as boat name, length, speed and closest possible approach.

We also turned off our lights. We went to these lengths to avoid being seen by pirates, who might, for example, use offshore oil rigs as their base.

Lana had actually encountered pirates in late December, a couple of weeks before meeting us. She had been sailing from Venezuela to Trinidad when she and a friend were approached by a fishing boat. Men with long guns began firing into the air. Lana’s friend fired a flare gun in their direction, just missing their outboard. They steered to sea, and the pirates abandoned their mission.

After a few hours we woke up Betty to watch phosphorescent plankton glow as it touched our boat. It was like watching the night stars in the sea.

Betty went to bed and I tried to make Lana a sandwich. The waves heaved me about the galley, and the swirling sensation sent me back up to the cockpit. Lana was delivered a piece of cheese between two pieces of bread. There was no margarine, or happy looking vegetables to add crunch. It was a boring sandwich. But, Lana is very easy-going. On one race boat, Lana slept under the companionway steps. She said she liked it very much.

Hour by hour the miles ticked away. My eyelids began to droop. I hatched a plan. If I slept for an hour, than maybe Lana could sleep for an hour after that. Feeling somewhat sheepish, I did just that – though I don’t recall Lana sleeping at all. In fact, even after Rick returned, she remained awake and asked to be woken up to see the sunrise. Beggar that!

In hindsight, the best part is the sunrise – when all the mysteries of the lights, twinkling in the night, are revealed. Our children began to wake up at about 6 a.m. and, Rick went back to bed as I sat at the helm.

I wore a fleece neck warmer on my head and two layers of warmth on my top. My legs felt the cool breeze.

“I can see land!” Henry said, excitedly. Reef appeared on our chart plotter, extending well beyond the southern tip of Grenada. In a way, it felt like we were coming home.

The water here is aqua. We are anchored amongst super yachts, and other cruising boats. Already, our kids have spent hours swimming in the water. After spending three months virtually unfettered in the boatyard, our kids have had to relearn the rules of the boat. Paul, for example, jumped off the roof into the water without permission or adult supervision. I don’t like this activity at the best of times. I worry that he will take out a sibling or hurt himself on the back transom.

We have now caught up on sleep. I’m buying some medicine here as it literally ten times cheaper to buy in Grenada than in Trinidad. It feels great to be back in Grenada and walking in familiar territory.

Lana has now joined up with a race boat in Grenada called Monster Project. I was given a tour of the boat today and it was pure, carbon-fibre, adrenaline filled fantastic. Lana will be sailing with another boat for Grenada Sailing Week 2018, and then she’ll sail with Monster Project to Antigua in early February.

We will be leaving for the Bahamas in the next few days. The report posted about Lana’s encounter with pirates is posted on the Caribbean Safety and Security website.

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