Leaving Antigua, W. I.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lost in a Storm!

And the last post was all about the joys of a calm anchorage! 

Shortly before the last hurricane season began, we stored Play Actor in Grenada and flew back to the States for a couple of months to visit family.  As we were packing for our first visit ashore in over three years, I (Bud) discovered that I didn't have any shoes.  We're warm weather sailors, and we don't normally wear shoes on the boat.  We each keep a pair of heavy-duty flip flops in the dinghy, to wear when we go ashore.  Our real shoes are stored in a locker below the hanging locker where we keep our clothes, and my good boat shoes came out of there rotten.  They were only 15 years old, but the marine environment is harsh.  It was late in the day before our early morning departure, so I was in a bit of a bind.

It's not easy to find a good, inexpensive pair of shoes in the islands.  People down here either wear dress shoes or flip flops  The dress shoes are only for office wear, and then only sometimes, so they tend to look all right, but they aren't very good shoes, and like most things, they're expensive.  Boat shoes are sometimes available in limited sizes and styles from the marine supply stores, but they are even more expensive.  There was no time to go shopping, anyway.  

On top of this problem, one of our planned activities in the States was our nephew's graduation from the Air Force Academy, which was going to require that I cover my feet in something that went with a suit.  The suit, I could borrow from a family member, but I already know (done this before) that his shoes won't fit. I've been planning to buy a decent pair of everyday shoes in the States anyway, but I don't want to fly in my flip flops.  After all these years in the tropics, my blood is thin, and my bare feet get really cold in air-conditioned places.

Well, after digging around in several lockers, I found an old, disreputable pair of boat shoes that were still intact, although the soles were worn out.  I flew in those, and just didn't walk any more than necessary.  When we got settled in California, I found a nice looking, serviceable pair of casual shoes with a Vibram sole, good for wear ashore and afloat.  I bought them, thinking I had solved my problem, and I could even use them for boat shoes, too.

Leslie and her step-father, in their role as fashion police, didn't think they were dressy enough to wear with a suit.  After some debate, they presented me with a pair of nice, almost-new black dress shoes that they found on the half-price table at the Salvation Army store when they dropped off a donation.  I've never had a finer pair of shoes for $2.50.  That's only a quarter a toe!  I left those at her folk's place in California for future use.

We've been back aboard Play Actor for several months now, and my feet are back to normal -- brown, callused, sporting a few cuts and a sprained or broken toe or two.  So what's this about a storm?

Oh, yeah.  I got distracted, thinking about my feet, and shoes.  When we're settled in a place, as we are in St. Martin, we usually hoist the dinghy along the side of Play Actor at night.  That keeps barnacles and other assorted critters from growing on the bottom.  Last night, just as we were going to bed, a squall blew through our calm anchorage, with some gusty winds in excess of 40 knots.  We were feeling snug and cozy when there was a loud smack on the side of the hull.  Leslie went up on deck to see what happened and discovered that the dinghy had gone airborne, flying up on its tether and landing on edge alongside the big boat.  The smack was the top of the outboard hitting the hull.  That's about 300 pounds of dinghy flying around.

I climbed in the dinghy and managed to get it flying right-side up, using my weight for ballast.  We dropped it in the water and moved it to trail off the stern of Play Actor for the night.  After a good night's sleep, under covers, even, (a rare treat, in the tropics) we took a look at the dinghy in daylight.  Everything is fine, except…

There were only three flip flops in there!  Between us, we have four feet, so we knew right away that we lost one.  Of course, since I'm the one with limited footwear options, it was one of mine.  Now I've got to hop to the dive shop and see if I can buy a new Reef sandal.  With my luck, I'll probably have to spring for a pair.