The return trip from Tobago back to Trinidad was promised to be cake. According to all reports, it is all downwind. Supposedly you just point the bow at 240° on the compass, pop the spinnaker, crank some tunes, and crack open a beer. If that’s how it’s supposed to go, I’ll have to try it again some day.
Here’s how my trip went…
The night before returning to Trinidad, I was asked if I would help an injured sailor (he broke a couple ribs in a fall) deliver a boat back to Trinidad. I agreed, and since the boat was something smaller and less comfortable than the boat we came over on, and considering Lara’s hard time on the way to Tobago, she would not be joining me. The boat was a 30-footer, set up primarily for racing—read, no bimini or other cruising comforts, but the boat was supposed to be fast, so short trip right? Wrong.
I guess for the trip back it was my turn to have a bad trip from Tobago. That morning, I show up on the beach to meet the skipper and his other crew Michelle, who is also from the good ol’ U.S.A., thinking we will have a fun relaxing sail. Michelle quickly informs me that the skipper has brought a few beers and a pack of crackers as the only provisions for the 10-12 hour trip. I should have bailed out right then, but that’s just not me. So, we head out to the boat, crank the motor, pull the anchor, put up the mainsail and begin motor sailing for Trinidad. About 30 minutes later, our grumpy, hung over, injured skipper says he can’t listen to the damn diesel engine banging away anymore and turns it off. Ordinarily I’d be in total agreement with this, but considering that we have very little wind and 3-5′ seas, I am not happy about the decision. The good news is that about an hour later, the wind fills in enough to stop the boat from rolling around so much, but we are still only making about 4 knots. It’s going to be a long trip.
As the day goes on, the sun gets hotter, and the wind only picks up a bit. We’re still sailing, or more like roasting in the hot sun, with no place to take cover, and now I’m getting hungry. Michelle finds a few pieces of cheese left over from the regatta, and we share them with the crackers for brunch. Still having about 6-7 hours to go, I really wish I had not agreed to help.
Trapped, all I could do for the remainder of the trip was sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen—oh, and take my turns driving as necessary. In the end, I did manage to avoid any serious sunburn but upon arriving back in Trinidad, I was grumpy and hungry. I marched right up to Lara, who managed to beat our faster boat back by about an hour, and exclaimed that I was going to shower and go get something to eat immediately. She took me back to Kijro and dug something up for me to put in my stomach. I found out that her trip had been spectacular. They had very little food aboard as well, but they caught a bonito and turned it into sushi for breakfast, and one of her crew mates had brought leftover rum punch from the weekend. They sat under the bimini all day and even caught jellyfish in a bucket in the way through the Bocas into Trinidad. I hardly cared because I was so exhausted, but the jellyfish were so thick in the cut through the islands, if they were tennis balls, you could have walked across.
About 15 minutes later, I was feeling very nauseous and was having trouble not puking right there on the dock. All I can figure is I must have had a bit of heat exhaustion and a very empty tummy.
In the end I made it back safe, but I learned a valuable lesson. Bring your own food unless you know for sure someone else is doing it for you!