St Croix of Unfortunate Events

On what should have been one of our last days in Frederiksted, some squally weather blew through, and the anchorage went from flat and sunny to reversed wind, pouring rain, and three-foot waves, all in about half an hour. Our anchor is a champion and we held just fine, but it wasn’t the most pleasant evening, and Villa got a bit shaken about. After the storm died down, we found that the shaking had snapped the bimini frame. Oh no!

Fortunately we’d met a guy a few weeks ago who worked at the boat-works that handles this kind of repair, and we found ourselves motoring into the wind to round the corner to Salt River. Perry got us on the dock that evening, past a derelict boat with a fancy figurehead. We arranged to start work the next day, and we went out together for a local dinner of heavy but delicious alfredos.

After some debate, we decided to do the welding on board. We would have to build a wind screen, because TIG welding stainless steel in a breeze is really hard, but it would save us having to take the whole bimini apart. And we decided that one of the contributing factors to the problem was the bimini’s side-to-side motion, which we’d been meaning to fix anyway. So, scope creep, we added some custom fabrication to the simple repair we’d planned on. Perry made a slight modification to Jazz’s design, and we were on our way to having some horizontal support. Andrew got tasked as extra hands during the welding process.

In between being grunt labor, Andrew gave the bottom of the dinghy a much-needed cleaning.

Jazz made some adjustments to the chaps. The stitching had started to come off the handle holes, so she added new stitches around all of them. And our previous chaff-guard upgrades had slightly shrunk the fabric, so we needed to add a few inches in the back to make them sit right. Navy Sunbrella, because that’s what we have.

Captain spent the whole time confined to the boat, which he was absolutely OK with. We tried to take him walking, and the cacophony of egret noises from the mangroves had him too freaked out to leave the dock. Poor guy. We were a little worried that he would change his mind at night, when he gets energetic and adventurous, so we slept with the windows closed and baked ourselves. In hindsight, we could have shut him out of our rooms and left our own windows open. Ah well.

He was, at least, willing to help me look at the engine. Always nice to have an extra pair of eyes.

With our additions to the schedule, we ended up staying a second night, which meant dinner at Flyers right by the marina. Salad picture only to share that those “croutons” are actually balls of deep-fried feta. Glorious.

The final welds went in the next day, and we sailed out in the afternoon with the spinnaker flying and enough time to make it back to Frederiksted before sunset.

So, two days and a few boat bucks later, we were back where we started with some beautiful repairs and upgrades.

Now we were free to look at weather. Bonaire doesn’t yet care about vaccination status, and so they require PCR tests. Option one is 72 hours before arrival, which for us is physically impossible given we expect the trip to be longer than that. Option two is to test 24 hours before departure. The weather looked promising, so we arranged for our COVID tests for the next morning, and rented a car for some afternoon shopping and late-night provisioning. On the way to the clinic the next morning, we were rear-ended. With a big truck.

Fortunately, the guy who ran into us was insured, and reasonably relaxed about it. A police officer came and took a report, which shows us not at fault. So we were a little delayed, and a little whiplashed, and there may be some annoying dickering in our future if the rental car company doesn’t feel like contacting the right insurance company. But in the end it’s going to be fine.

And we made it to the clinic and got our tests. And we took the cat to the vet for a check-up and vaccine updates. It turns out he didn’t need any shots, but the vet did find an issue with one of his teeth, so we’ll be taking care of that as soon as we can. Possible explanation for his terrible eating habits?

We returned the rental car to a surly agent, and hitched a ride back to the dock. About the time we got back to the boat, we received word that our tests were negative. We sent our results to Bonaire, and started to prep for our departure the following morning, before Bonaire’s 24-hour post-test deadline.