Patrice’s Heel

As we left the north coast, Astra and Quest let go of their mooring buoys and headed out of Boka Slagbaii. The weather had been set to be rainy. We hadn’t had a glimpse of it so far.

In the morning before we left, Patrice had dinghied to Quest on the way to pick up friends Mark and Janine.

Patrice pulled up and said to me, ‘I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to you in all this fog and rain.’

I looked at him. I’d told him about the coming rain – and it was perfectly Caribbean sunny outside.

Now, hours later, going south again the two or so hours, Patrice had put out his sails and was flying.

We were rounding a headland and watching carefully. There was a big patch of dark cloud coming our way. It usually happens like this: the cloud comes over, the wind hits twenty knots. A few moments later, the rain hits and it’s more like thirty knots.

We’d put our radar on and watched the flashing red. Red is rain. We were set to reef the genoa at twenty. Then wait for the rain to turn out of the storm at thirty.

Except this time, Jack called out, ‘Let’s put the sails away. No need for them to get wet.’

I was a bit surprised. Not like Jack to put sails away. Usually the rain is short and fierce and you can see the sky on the other end of it. Now however, the sky was filled with mist. It looked the kind of rain which lingered. Actual fog! Jack was right; if we left the sails out, they wouldn’t dry by the time we returned to the mooring field. Then they’d sit until the next day sail, rolled up and damp.

We turned on the engine and got to work. Put the sails away, working the genoa winch and then the mainsail winch. The wind direction was exactly upwind. Engine running, I fetched our rain jackets from downstairs; me, Jack and Lu’s. The fourth crew member had snuck back downstairs and was busy reading fan fiction again. Delph is literally unstoppable. Sits on the front cabin bed with a pillow behind her head and a smile on her face. Her iPad has a long lead that goes straight into the 12volt charger.

The rest of us felt the rain come down. Then we got an idea. Since Quest is covered in brown dirt which blows from Bonaire’s scrubland, I got a scrubbing brush out and went forward. I scrubbed and clung, scrubbed and clung. The brown oozed of the side of the boat, the rain pushing it off.

Meanwhile, a sailing boat was coming close. Patrice hadn’t taken Astra’s sails down. He was riding it out. We made way and let him pass. Caught a glimpse of Patrice before they went out towards the open sea. Still in white t-shirt, sunglasses on.

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