August 2016 –
“Whatever blows your hair back, Conner.”
– Shawn, our kick-a** South African sailing instructor…and life coach.
In early 2016, Karl signed us up for a week-long liveaboard sailing course (ASA Certifications 101, 103, 104) in Grenada with Nautilus Sailing. Our “let’s move aboard a sailboat” timing was still fluid at this point. We were hesitant to put too much pressure on ourselves to articulate what the next step after certification would be.
We arrived on a surprisingly brisk Saturday afternoon in August. After a Curried Caribbean Special at BB’s Crabback (yum) on Saturday evening, we returned to the marina to find a man briskly walking away from the sailboat we had (in hindsight, maybe carelessly) thrown all of our luggage onto. Karl turned to me. “Is that our captain?” Yup, we had inadvertently delivered the opening salvo of “island time”, as we soon learned we had stood our Captain up for dinner! We joined him for a second meal (sushi in town) and cowered (well, I did) while he spoke of his background, which included starting an office-building-base-jumping company that only a South African could conjure up (fine maybe an Aussie too), and a “delivery skipper” stint that included limping a sinking catamaran across the Southern Atlantic. Our war stories are mostly of the crashed XLS spreadsheet and lane-closure-ahead variety, so we kept mostly quiet. Dessert was an OFF repellent, full-body spray down; our home-made citronella and witch hazel spray sounded great in Brooklyn… in Grenada, where our instructor Shaun had just contracted and fought off Zika the previous week… not so much.
Sunday began with on-land instruction over fruit shakes, while Shaun ran through the basics. His self-diagnosed ADD meant our lesson had a good mix of theory and practice as he had an interesting story for each point made. After a quick instruction in the electronics and interior of the boat, were we soon heading out of True Blue Bay!
Karl and I were the only students this particular week, which meant both of us were constantly on duty, but we were thankful for the extra attention. We received many more “at bats” (whether at the helm of our 44 foot Jeanneau, trimming the sails, or grinding our eighth cup of coffee for the three of us) and it allowed us to get to know Shaun very well. What it did not allow for – however – was a lot of picture-taking, but the scenery was stunning!
Friday started at 5AM sharp – by the end of the trip, Karl and I had settled into a routine – up early, checking elements both outside (weather and currents) and in (fuel, batteries), making a quick breakfast, and mapping out our route. The last day we left our mooring in Sandy Island off Carriacou and headed for True Blue Bay Resort in Grenada. Barring a few “dead reckoning” navigation pop-quizzes, Shaun left us to our own devices for most of the 50 mile sail back. That is, until we caught a nice dorado off Ronde Island! Shaun suggested we donate it to the charter company’s cleaning crew, and we happily obliged. All in all, a great trip. Thanks Shaun!