Best Friends

The sea talks to us. Really, it never shuts up. Perhaps because it is in cahoots with its best friend, the weather. Seriously, sometimes you don’t know which one of them it is, if the sound is coming from above or below. Both of them rattle on and on. A boat feels like a listening device. Non-stop stream of conversation.

The wind right now is fierce. It’s a rumbling mass, heard from far away as if approaching from a motorway. I can never tell if it’s far away or close. It sounds far, but its effects are personal. We are in the lee of the island’s west coast here, which means the sea is usually flat and we don’t experience large waves. It makes it all the easier to see the wind coming.

Like you’re brushing hair the wrong way. It streaks across the water’s surface. The water ruffles, then smack! We sway and are pushed, our mooring lines turning into puppet strings. I swear you can hear the weather and the sea laughing.

We have this all day long – and we may balk about wind and sea causing havoc, but we are in a nice, sheltered spot, relatively speaking. It’s wild out there at the moment out to sea. It’s normal for this time of year when the trade winds are ramped up by the wintry weather to the north. The only thing is, because it’s still warm, you’re lulled by the temperature. Especially if you’re from colder climes, it’s easy to think that warm = safe. Ha! Another trick by the besties.

We know a boat who left Bonaire last week, heading for the Eastern Caribbean. To be honest, we watched them leave, hoisting their sails merrily, and we scratched our heads. They’re going in that direction? Now? You can sail at the moment from close-by island to island, or downwind like a fun rollercoaster, but open sea, close-hauled is a proper challenge. That’s the way they were heading.

This week, we heard the boat’s anchor came loose in the crashing waves and smacked a large hole in the boat’s hull. It was announced on a sea rescue site. Luckily, being a hundred miles from Puerto Rico meant S/Y Zoma could call out the US Coast Guard for help. Phew.

An old sea dog commented it was lucky too the Coast Guard were willing to help to try and repair the boat, rather than just rescuing its passengers and scuttling the vessel. Man, would that have sucked. As it was, the Coast Guard brought extra pumps and the pumps held until they accompanied Zoma into port. Unfortunately, the crew are now dealing with Covid restrictions which stop them setting foot on Puerto Rican soil. Makes sorting out your holes hard.

That is tough. Before they left Bonaire, Zoma told us they were heading for Dutch St Maarten – which doesn’t require Covid tests if you come from here. We are hoping to do the same thing in a few months time. It’s like a Dutch Caribbean bridge right now.

We’ve learned from these guys’ experience that we will definitely secure our own anchor from now. We had somehow stopped doing that; just relying on the windlass to hold our anchor tight.

The truth is that what happened to Zoma could have happened to anyone else in the same situation.

Another point to the weather/sea friendship. Proper hooligans.

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