What draws us to say we must go down to the sea again? What is it in that lonely sea and sky? Why is that restless body of water so alluring? Is it the amniotic fluid that we yearn to return to? When life was just beginning, when we were cushioned against the harsh realities that would define the rest of our lives; the warmth we became accustomed to; is it the desire to return? We breathed this sea before the cold winds announced our presence and we gave out a scream, maybe with cause.
In the early years of the 20th century, the idea of eugenics took hold and tried to explain why we are what we are. Genes were seen as the key to life, or how life manifests itself in individuals. It also provided a pathway that human-kind could follow to improve, by exercising discretion in procreation, the desired traits for the populace. Fortunately, it proved to be a false hope. In the meantime, Thalassophilla was assigned the meaning of “lover of the sea”. Excessively so. And it could be “cured”.
My own belief, if Thalassophila really exists, could be cured by experiencing a few storms at sea. If that doesn’t hit you in the head like a 2×4 nothing will. But there are other ways to the cure. It could be called the Chinese Water Torture route. It involves the mystical timing and evolution of breakdowns and boat failures that plague boat ownership. It seems failures and breakdowns occur in some predetermined time frame that only allows the next breakdown to occur after the previous one was rectified. Multiple failures happen but not as frequently as the constant drip, drip drip of failure, fix, failure, fix etc.
All this to explain our passage from St. Lucia to Antigua. After 5 months in St. Lucia for the hurricane season, we sailed north to Antigua. Note: only 2 named storms, including one hurricane, passed through the Lesser Antilles this season. Only one, Elsa, passing over St. Vincent, gave us a day of squalls with winds of 45 knots. The pandemic has really “clipped our wings (fins?)” as far as island hopping. We will remain in Antigua until January and see where we can go from here.
So, after 5 months, with M&R in St. Lucia, including the purchase of our new “car” – the ubiquitous dinghy – we took Kalunamoo for a planned 32-hour sail. We did go to Marigot Bay before this so it was not like the boat didn’t move for 5 months. It also was hauled for new bottom paint. We installed a new reefer compressor. We installed a new generator water pump. We had the stern teak damage repaired. All these were done sequentially as explained above in a “water torture” scenario.
The sail from St. Lucia was a sailor’s dream. Relatively strong 20-25 knot easterly winds gave Kalunamoo the energy to sail at 7 to 8 knots. Apparent wind was 60 degrees on the starboard bow and the seas were long enough for us to ride over them. No squalls, a clear dark night, and little traffic to worry about gave us a good ocean passage ride.
That was until we emerged from the wind shadow of Guadeloupe and the last leg up to Antigua. The course is now due north while the wind slacked a little. This gave us a relative wind of 45 degrees with more of the seas head on. In short, it was a motor sail for the last 6 hours of the voyage. Halfway up, Maureen and I noticed an exhaust smell inside the cabin. Sure enough, there was an exhaust leak somewhere but I could not determine from where. Not a tremendous problem, just another little drip, drip, drip of needed repair.
We dropped the hook in Freedman’s Bay, English Harbor at 10:30AM, 28 hours after leaving Rodney Bay. That was a fast run for us. We waited hours for Port Health to grant us “free pratique”. This age-old procedure prevents the spread of sicknesses from sailors arriving from foreign lands and causing a pandemic. Well, too late for that, the pandemic arrived at the airports a year ago. In any case, with negative PCR test results in hands, our CDC Vaccine card, and a completed Maritime Health Declaration, and temperature checks, we and Kalunamoo were granted “pratique” and allowed to proceed to Immigration, Customs and the Port Authority to complete the entrance procedures. We were done by 3PM. By 5PM I was ready for some sleep.
The exhaust turned out to be from a leaking injector seal. At least that is what I believe it is. A mechanic has been called and so another repair is in order. We will have enough time here in Antigua for this to be done. Cruising friends with the Salty Dawg Rally will arrive later this week and I am sure there will be many mentions of the drip, drip, drips on their boats.
Has this cured our Thalassophillia? Really, has anyone really been “cured” of anything or just accepted the fact that somethings just can’t be explained. In the meantime, we continue to sail on in anticipation of the inevitable next drip and hope it doesn’t cure our chosen lifestyle, as incurable as it may be.