Sunday, November 27, 2011

Final Preparations

I dragged Craig along on our second trip to the Port of Spain market. In the van on the way, we met Devi from sailboat Arctic Tern and Ann from sailboat Receta. We are all tied up to the same dock at Crews Inn, getting ready for a season in the Caribbean. Devi and Ann revel in the thorniness of Trinidad. They tell stories of searching for particular Pan music artists, finding new kinds of roti, and who to go to at the market for the best Tamarind chutney. They are the kind of sailors that appreciate local narratives and natures with a quiet curiosity. I am careful to collect their suggestions to pack away for future use.

I found the recommended Chutney stand and with the help of the stand owner herself, bought 10 jars of sauces to spice up our food as we head north. My generous mentor explained the ingredients and shared recipes as she dolloped spoonfuls of the spicy concoctions onto plastic sheets for me to sample. I left chewing on pickled mango strips and know that my ten jars will not last long. 

Alberta Crewed successfully splashed last Thursday and is chomping at the bit to get back to its full gallop on the sea. One of my tasks was to service our four winches. The winches are mechanical rope-winders that enable us to raise and lower sails, move them from one side of the boat to the other, and tighten or loosen them depending on the wind and our direction. Sail work requires muscles to wind the halyards (raising/lowering ropes), sheets (tightening/loosening ropes), and furling lines that wrap around a drum device to open and close the big forward sails. Many boats have manual winches and one can see sailing crews twisting winch handles around in pot-stirring motions, muscles taut and sweat dripping from foreheads. We have the luxury of two electric winches. When we raise or lower, furl or unfurl our sails, we wrap the halyards around the electric winch and push a button. The other two winches for tightening or loosening (trimming) the sails are manual because a finer touch is needed and it is way more fun. 

Winches have gears that need cleaning and greasing, pawls that need oiling, and all parts that need to be inspected for wear. I appreciated seeing how all of the parts fit together and only had one piece left over when I reassembled the first winch. Thanks to Salwa our new crew member who took photos of the process, I took it apart again, found the piece its home, and listened with great satisfaction to the smooth clickety-clicking of the spinning winch. The other three became progressively easier and I can now say I am a pro.

We hear many compliments about Alberta Crewed and our cruising friends were particularly impressed when they heard that Antares company owners, Jeff and Rob, and marketer/photographer-extraordinaire, Salwa, were joining us for our sail to Grenada. They arrived Saturday and over two days, our to-do lists dwindled rapidly. 

Although mounting the dinghy motor and putting on sails were a priority, they still had time to enjoy Trinidad food, fireflies, and jungled-forests. I switched from tourist to tour guide, hoping to peel back Trinidad’s rough skin long enough to reveal its enchantment. Judging by our guests’ raves over Shark and Bake and their awed silences on our walk through the Bamboo Cathedral, I believe I succeeded. I’d like to think Devi and Ann would be proud of us all.

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