Colin here, on the island of Grenada, where Strider is back in the water, ensign flying at the stern, and ready for new adventures. Our tentative plan: sail north through the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and up the east coast of the United States, arriving in New England waters come June. We feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to extend our cruise into a second year, and we aim to make the most of it.
Preparing for Launch
I arrived 2 – 1/2 weeks ago to commission the boat’s systems while Grenada Marine finished some repairs. The metal shop fixed a leaking weld in the centerboard trunk, and the carpenters put the cabinetry back together. The rigger replaced the bearings and guides on the centerboard. The electrician replaced the bearings in the wind generator. Turbulence (Doyle) Sails delivered a new jib, main, and cover. The sails look sweet, and the price was irresistible compared to back home.
Life “On the Hard”
Living in a Caribbean boatyard “on the hard” is no vacation, with long, hot work days and buggy nights. Fortunately, I had knocked off many of the big jobs in June: engine maintenance, plumbing repairs, overhauling heads and winches, and re-insulating the engine room, for example. And Grenada Marine is a pretty hospitable place for do-it-yourself sailors. Showers, laundry machines, and a beachfront restaurant/bar make life bearable. Vendors bring farm produce and coconuts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The yard is located in St David’s, a small town on the southeast coast, and everyone from the mechanics to the bartenders are genuine and warm. For exercise you can hike the rugged coastline along deserted trails, with brilliant flowers and sweeping vistas. I definitely missed Blaire and the kids, but it made things easier to know that I was preparing the boat for all of us. Plus, I was not alone. I was surrounded by fellow sailors, dirty and sweaty like me, working hard to launch their own boats.
Sailing: a Lingua Franca
At nightfall the GM bar fills with sailors from around the world. Here I met cruisers from the States, Canada (English and French types), France, England, Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Australia, and South Africa. Some live on large, fast boats, while others work hard to maintain their small, rusty craft on a limited budget. There are salty single-handers, young families, retired couples, and twenty-somethings who fell in love and decided to circumnavigate the world.
Being sailors, they find camaraderie and a shared language when they sit together. They swap stories and maintenance tips. The rum punch helps, too! My new friends, I hope to see you in a distant anchorage: Ian and Anne on Just Do It, Vince on Flight Plan, Elayna and Riley on La Vagabonde, Jan and Justine on Lefebvre, Ann, Moss, Blake and Niamh on Cedar, and many others.
Strider’s Crew Is on the Way!
Yesterday I sailed downwind to Prickly Bay, near the Grenada airport, where the family arrives in three days. Owen and Megan finish school today, and Blaire is working hard to pack bags, fill prescriptions, pay bills, and everything else required to put life on hold for several months. I am provisioning and completing odd jobs. Strider is riding peacefully at anchor, content for the moment but secretly anxious to put to sea and shake out those new sails.