|Dolphins. Polymer Clay with Silver Charm. Jean Baardsen|
To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.
Ed and I had been talking about leaving the Caribbean and sailing Tropic Moon up to the States. A passage from the Virgin Islands to New York would have taken us two-three weeks. The optimum months for making this passage were May and June – sandwiched between winter in the States, and Hurricane Season in the islands. We were already looking at the end of May, as we sat in St. Maarten.
Ed decided it was time to replace the front stay, which is a wire that runs from the bow of the boat to the top of the main mast. We attached the wooden bosun’s chair (looked like a swing seat) to the main halyard. I used a winch to crank Ed up the mast. While he was up there, he discovered a large section of wood rot, and the beginnings of delamination in the mast. We realized we’d have to have that taken care of before heading to the States. As we’d probably been sailing around that way for a while, we chose to continue on to the Virgin Islands, and have the work done there.
We ended up staying in St. Maarten for almost two weeks. We left there on May 23rd to do an overnight sail to Tortola, another 100-mile trip. What should have been a pleasant downwind run turned out to be a real drag of a sail. There was very little wind. We spent the first 14 hours crawling along, averaging about two knots. Around 4:00 a.m., after the wind died completely, we started the engine and motored for the next 14 hours. With no breeze, the sun that day was unmercifully hot. Because we were traveling downwind, we were breathing nauseating fumes from the exhaust.
When we reached the Virgin Islands, everything looked so crowded to us because it was almost a year since we had seen that many islands grouped so closely together. Several boats wended their ways up and down the Sir Francis Drake Channel. It felt like coming home.
After clearing customs in the British Virgin Islands, we contacted Tortola Yacht Services where we had hauled Tropic Moon the previous year. We wanted to have the mast pulled out of the boat and repaired. They couldn't help us because their crane was broken. We then called Nanny Cay Yacht Services, which is also on Tortola, and scheduled a haul-out date with them. Since we had to wait for the rotted section of the mast to be repaired, Ed decided to haul the boat to pull out the propeller shaft, where we had a leak. And as long as we were going to do all that, we figured we might as well patch and paint the bottom, and weld on our new zinc anodes.
I was really pleased we ended up at Nanny Cay. They had far superior living facilities than Tortola Yacht Services, which - in those days - had virtually none. Nanny Cay had a small short-order restaurant where we ate all our dinners, a gourmet grocery where I could pick up bread, cheese and salad fixings, a Laundromat where they did my laundry for me, and really beautiful bathroom and shower facilities.