Hurricane season is officially upon us and we need to be safe. The plan this season is to spend our time in Grenada, The Spice Island. Some folks think Grenada is far enough south to be out of the hurricane zone. One Google search of “spice island hurricane” will quickly reveal images of huge piles of boats. Although Grenada is statistically not prone to hurricanes and sits on the outer edge of the zone, it still pays to be cautious and have a solid plan, just in case.
We really enjoyed the time we spent in St Croix and regret we couldn’t stay longer. A weather window opened to move east in lighter winds and no other window was in the 2-week forecasts. Time to go. We wanted to visit Buck Island Park and swim the reef. We also wanted to do a car tour of the island. I guess we will have to come back.
We divided the trip south to Grenada into three overnight legs. Our first jaunt took us to St. Kitts. From St Croix, we motored an entire day due east into the wind. Once we got to Saba Island we finally hit a point where we were east enough. When we made the turn to the southeast, we could sail the rest of the way. And by rest of the way, I mean all the way down to Grenada. The trade winds blow from the east making it very easy for us to travel north and south. From now on everywhere island we wish to visit is north –south. Hallelujah!
We reached St Kitts at sunrise. Approaching into Basseterre, we furled the sails (furling is a method of stowing the sails by rolling them up inside the mast or on the front stay). Something went pop. Pops, bangs and clunks and never really good noises to hear when on a boat. What the heck was that? In a couple of minutes we found the source of the unwelcoming sound. The tack at the base of our genoa (front triangular sail on the boat ahead of the mast) had blown out. Rats! The front sail helps us point toward the wind when sailing and adds most of the power to give us speed. Without a genoa, sailing is difficult. Motor sailing is about our only option if we are to continue on. We finally made it to a point in the Caribbean where we could sail the rest of the way and wouldn’t you know it, we might have to motor anyway. A few cuss words that would impress even the saltiest of sailors were muttered under my breath.
St Kitts is nothing more than a weather stop for us. Our overnight passage put us here in plenty of time to sit and let a little bit of nasty weather blow by. It also gave us time to think about what we have aboard we could repair our sail with until we could get it to a professional repair shop. We carry a sail repair kit. It’s time to open it up and see what we have.
Anchoring off the coast of St Kitts for a few days required us to check in with Customs, Immigration and The Port Authority. We took a 3 hour nap and awoke at 10 am somewhat refreshed but still a little groggy from the overnight passage. After unloading our dinghy we attached the outboard and off we went to the small marina near the Government Offices.
Most Caribbean islands require visitors to check in and check out with immigration. They use this as an excuse to collect an addition fee. St. Kitts does not charge an additional fee to check out and if the visit is less than a few days they will issue the exit paperwork at the time of check-in preventing an additional visit to the Government Offices. The officer would only allow us to stay for 48 hours if he issued exit paperwork. We negotiated, meaning we looked at him with sad eyes, and wound up getting 72 hours. This really helped us as the anchorage where we wished to stay is located at the southern tip of the island and we did not want to return north to the town of Basseterre. It would be much easier to leave the anchorage and head south on to Guadeloupe.
When was the last time you saw someone use carbon paper? I’ll bet some young people reading this don’t even know what carbon paper is. Heck, I’m not exactly a young chicken and the last time I used carbon paper was high school. I didn’t even know they still made it. But, they do. And, the Government of St. Kitts uses it when they fill out the immigration forms. I took every ounce of self discipline in me to not poke fun of the officer as he inserted sheets of carbon paper between pages. Luckily, commonsense intuition took over and told me to not mock the officer while trying to enter the country. I wonder what the world record is for rapid deportation.
Leaving customs, we stopped at a store to pick up some fresh veggies. We learned the stores have crappy produce. Local farmers realizing a business opportunity set up vegetable stands right outside the grocery store. We picked up some of the best tasting watermelon, cucumber and tomatoes. There is something to be said for vine ripened veggies. Oddly, no-one sold lettuce.
Returning to Cream Puff we made our way down the coast to White Horse Bay. We spent less than two hours ashore on St Kitts during our 3 days there. While we waited for the rain to pass, Cindy did some laundry, we made water with the water maker, and I repaired the sail clew. We figured we would be back this way again next year and will give St Kitts and Nevis a more respectable going over.
A sail repair kit is part of the inventory aboard Cream Puff. Contents include tape, very heavy duty needles, thick thread and nylon webbing. The webbing at the tack is the area that wore out and failed on the genoa sail. There was enough fabric to saw the two worn ends together using some ultra thick thread. I was confident in the sewing but lacked assurance the webbing would not fray again in another area as it clearly needed replacement. That is a job for a professional sail-maker with all the right gear. This is not something I can do aboard sitting in a cove off the island of St. Kitts. We are not that far from Grenada. I’ve done what I can. We’ll see how it the repair goes and keep the fingers crossed.