| 9:45 AM local time, Tuesday, January 15 (1345 Jan. 15 UTC) 12 27 N 061 29 W.
Temp. 83, Humidity 73%, Cloud Cover 50%. On the hard at Tyrrel Bay Yacht
Haulout, Carriacou Island, Grenada.
Warm greetings from the crew of Maverick.
I arose early today and was greeted by a torrent of rain from a passing squall
just before dawn. It lent Tyrrel Bay a romantic ambiance as the anchor lights of
the boats twinkled through the twilight mist, and gently swayed in the swell.
The crew of Maverick has removed itself from the boat to get out of the way of
the work being done and to avoid the clouds of fiberglass dust in the cabin, and
has sealed up the lockers in the hope of keeping the dust confined to an area
that can be cleaned. We have taken lodgings in a cottage on the hill above the
boatyard at about $5 US a day. At that price itís utilitarian and boasts
neither hot water nor screens to keep out the mosquitoes, but has a veranda with
a beautiful view of the anchorage, and whatís more, cable with HBO. On the
Captainís various vacations from the boat with Theresa, we have at times
stayed in hotels with cable, but for the first time since March of 2001, Iím
able to watch programming that is 100% American. I saw the 49ers get thumped in
the playoffs instead of the non-stop soccer the rest of the world calls
football, and watched Tom Brokaw giving the news rather than CNN. And although
Iím way behind because of all the episodes Iíve missed, Iím starting to
catch up on the Teletubbies.
Shipís Jet-Setter Terry Shrode has flown home to visit Caroline, whose planned
Christmas rendezvous with him in Carriacou was aborted when she was not able to
get a flight out of San Francisco. Itís the third time since weíve left that
heís been to America and been able to see the changes that have taken place in
our absence, and of course return with boat parts. I have made a personal vow to
stay with Maverick until she is able to return, although this policy is subject
to review pending the outcome of the present repairs. There are times when world
history hangs in the balance, and this is one of them. What if the boat canít
be made seaworthy, but we are convinced it is, and then we sink, and die, and as
a result I fail to discover the secret to cheap fusion power? Itís ultimately
my decision whether we are ready for sea or not, not that of the experts
repairing the boat who wonít be aboard if we have a problem, and this is where
the Captain feels the full burden of command. Itís tough to have the entire
future of the human race on oneís rather small shoulders, but thatís why
they pay me the big bucks.
Speaking of bucks, I havenít seen any deer here but the yard of our cottage,
and at times the cottage itself, daily hosts our neighborís goats and chickens
as they forage through the area, trying to score drugs. I donít think pot
would be difficult to find here on Carriacou, but theyíre out of luck if
theyíre looking for Sudafed. Itís a charming but small island and serious
shoppers have to take the rough ferry ride to the main island of Grenada, which
is called Grenada, where the US invasion under Reagan took place in 1983. Oh,
Itís not easy for goats and chickens to buy tickets on the ferry, but Theresa
and I did when she came to visit around New Yearís. We had a really nice time
over there. Grenada is a first-rate tropical beauty with an interesting history
even before 1983. Oddly, our guide, Peter, when giving us a rundown, left out
the slavery bit. Is it politically correct to omit the story of the main
population of the islands, when youíre one of them? Would it be impolite to
bring it up? Is political correctness a subspecies of politeness, or should
politeness be thought of as a subspecies of political correctness? Miss Manners,
where are you when we need you.
Grenada is a New World spice island. Like the original Spice Islands of
Indonesia colonized by the Dutch and British, Grenada is a volcanic island on
the boundary of a tectonic plate and the spices, imported from Indonesia,
appreciate the similar climate and soil. Itís therefore no puzzle for a
student of imperialism to discover the reason that Spain and Britain and France
found Grenada attractive. (Grenada was named after Granada in Spain,
a place two great sailors, your Captain and Columbus, have visited, but the
change in its rulers over time kluged the spelling and pronunciation. In Spain,
Gra-NAH-dah; in the Lesser Antilles, Gre-NAY-dah.) Peter stopped the car at one
point and with a machete hacked off a slice of the bark of a tree. Cinnamon
right out of the forest. We saw nutmeg and coffee trees and a shed for drying
cocoa. We stopped at a bar that sold bottles of rum spiced with local produce,
and sampling it had a remarkable effect on Theresa that the Captain found
infinitely appealing, though a lesser man may have been alarmed. He bought a
bottle, but is not sure he can persuade Theresa to try it again.
And now to the main story. Maverick has a big hole in its hull where the local
glass man, George, has cut out the affected area in preparation for repairs.
These unfortunately await the return of Uwe, another German, whose specialty is
engineering. Uwe was committed to another large job which couldnít be dropped
simply because the legendary Maverick showed up with a big boo-boo. The damage
has been assessed by George, Uwe, Roy (who manages the yard), and a surveyor
named Alan Hooper. All of these men inspire confidence and all maintain that the
hull can be made seaworthy, which is the reassuring news. The not-so-reassuring
news is that no one has any certainty about why it happened, and this includes
the boatís designer, Bruce King, who was reluctant to venture an opinion on
the phone. All claim to have never seen anything like it except on boats at the
highest end of competitive racing, e.g., Americaís Cup. There are two possible
explanations of its rarity, and one is that in fact it never has happened. The
other is more likely but a little more sinister, and that is that, although it
has happened before, the boats it happened to never made it to a yard where the
damage could be scrutinized.
In all sailboats, of course, the mast is trying to go through the bottom of the
boat and the weight of the keel is pushing in the same direction, while the two
ends of the boat are buoyant, and the stays are trying to pull them up towards
the masthead. So theoretically, all sailboats could break in half just where
Maverick did. But they donít, and Maverick did, and beyond that bare fact lies
Right now, as the Captain channel-surfs in search of glimpses of Britney at the
American Music Awards, he is biting his nails hoping the repairs can be done in
time to get to Panama in time to get through the Canal in time to get to San
Diego in time to miss the hurricane season off the Mexican coast. The rest of
our planned cruise through the lovely islands of this area of the world is
distressingly out the window in a manner similar to a substantial chunk of the
Captainís savings, notwithstanding any help that comes from insurance.
Assuming the repairs are done in time, the next worry is whether they will hold
through the big following seas of the western Caribbean, and the thousands of
miles of head seas on the way to home.
Only two of our readers had enough coffee before reading the missive on our
near-disaster to comment on the spelling of ďHuston.Ē Of all the Houstons
out there, the city, the NASA installation, the 19th-century imperialist after
whom they are both named, the famous diva, or her less famous but more talented
mother, which could be persuaded to come to Maverickís aid? So letís call
another Huston, the late director of ďTreasure of the Sierra Madre,Ē
ďChinatown,Ē and ďThe African Queen,Ē who would be just as likely to
help, and a lot more fun.
The ARC didnít have such bad weather after all. The wind at the start was
strong but not adverse as was predicted. Our information was coming from the
radio reports of a non-ARC boat that left at the same time and who, unbeknownst
to us, was a bit of a whiner. The ARC boats had a bumpy but fast ride with
PS to you know who you are:
The further you cruise, the more help you seem to get, probably because it
becomes more and more obvious to all that you are helpless and vulnerable fools.
Thereís no need to go to the expense and inconvenience of cruising, though, to
be reminded how generous your average human is. There is a theory, seemingly
held by a majority of people, that the human race is a sorry bunch of selfish
and greedy hogs, but actual experience only rarely provides concrete personal
evidence for this, even for the people who espouse the theory.
It is the unusual day out here that someone doesnít help us out. E.g., the
native Tahitian in Bora Bora that saw me struggling to row the dinghy against
twenty knots after the outboard failed, towed me two miles back to Maverick,
then gave ME a beer. Or Stathis back in Salamis, Greece, who generously drove me
around and acted as advisor and interpreter in a place where no one spoke
English. I could easily come up with another fifty examples.
Nevertheless, we have been pretty overwhelmed by the offers of all kinds of help
from old and new friends on this list, when they heard the news about
Maverickís problems. There have been offers of loans, of unlimited and free
technical advice from highly regarded professionals, of a benefit to be held on
the boat of the publisher of a popular sailing magazine, and of contacts in the
Caribbean for additional succor. We hope we arenít put in the position of
actually having to make use of any of these, but we canít express how we
appreciate the offers. Then there have been the seemingly numberless heartfelt
letters of moral support from our readers. So far even the insurance company and
its appointed surveyor have been prompt and helpful, although we wonít have
the final word on this until the process is finished.
In normal life, absent accidents and serious downturns in oneís health, daily
existence can continue without a great deal of dependence on the generosity of
others, so it is one of the many benefits of cruising that it helps one recall
just how wonderful a world it is.
Thanks for everything youíve said and done. Weíll try to keep up our end of
the bargain and get back to sea; but are sorry to report that we sincerely hope
to provide considerably less drama for the rest of the voyage.