We docked , cleaned and locked up the Lost Loon in Rivera Sens , SudAncrage Marina in Guadeloupe on a dark, rainy Tuesday morning. We were headed for a ‘vacation’ from our new life aboard to the US for a wedding.
We have not left the boat for more than 8 hours since our boarding in November, so this was new. We took a taxi ride to Point-A-Pitre airport headed for Ft Lauderdale. The wedding would be in South Carolina , but we had some work to do before the weekend. Wait! I forgot to mention.. the first HOT shower in months. Upon our arrival at the marina, we (I mostly) was excited for a real shower, unlimited hot water, coming from a fixed shower head in a private setting. You see, for the last 4 months most of our bathing ( no…ALL of our bathing) has been done on the transom of the boat in a bathing suit, in tepid water (process being, jump in, soap up, and then rinse with the least amount of fresh water) …..unless in the unlikely event we are THE only ones in the anchorage and then…we’ll you get it. Privacy is a luxury when it comes to bathing on the back of the boat. Now if you are flying the flag of France or Germany, it is commonplace to bare all regardless of the company in the vicinity. Oui! Nudity is common on the back of these boats in the Caribbean.
We had an uneventful departure from Guadeloupe, as we were told leaving a sailboat could be problematic, but we had a round trip return ticket. As we flew eastward from the West Indies, we could see below all of the beautiful islands we passed on our way down. What took us 4 months to accomplish we were able to now cover in less than 4 hours! Passing over the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Mona Passage, Turks and Caicos, the Exumas in the Bahamas and finally the Gulf Stream Crossing , the exact Thorny Patch to Windward,we recounted the events and boats we met along the way.
When we departed the US on the boat, we also left our family Suburban in Georgia with all the leftovers we decided not to bring on this journey. We had parked the vehicle at the Marina where we left, covered with a tarp, waiting for our eventual return to the states and likely Wisconsin. We had planned on taking the car to North Carolina where our daughter had bought a new house, and hopefully leave it in her hands for another month. During the flight and as we left the rental car garage in Ft Lauderdale we prayed the Suburban would start. We had considered this might not be just a “pick up and go”.
The day was hot and sunny and the marina yard was scented with warm pine needles as we pulled in and uncovered the vehicle. As we opened the door, the dome lights went on indicating an intact battery! Yeah, (did we dare smile with the least bit of joy?) we turned the key just twice and she was running. We were excited to get on the road for North Carolina another 6-7 hour drive. This is when the accident happened….I got in the driver’s seat to pull out of the parking spot and the brakes felt a bit mushy. I was reminded that likely they need to build up pressure. I was able to stop short of a tree and quickly got out asking Mike to give it a try. As he turned the wheel put it in reverse and then in drive the world turned into a slow motion movie…..as he couldn’t stop the car going less than 1 mile per hour I watched as that 2 ton vehicle made contact with our rental car’s left bumper. The plastic caved in easily and the rear taillight cracked as the Suburban came to a stop…thankfully! There were no words….had we just hit our rental vehicle with our own car? Why on earth were there no brakes? What’s this going to cost us? All questions going through our heads. Only explications murmured. Still dazed we opened the hood to see some brake fluid in the reservoir but then looked below the body and watched as this same fluid ran out onto the ground like a kid pouring syrup on his pancakes.
We were now positioned in the middle of the entry road to the marina and blocking the parking lot and needed to get this moved so we could head out and figure who could perform some repairs. With Mike in the drivers seat and me with a huge block of wood…oh and the damaged rental, yeah, pulled way out of reach. Mike inched the car back and forth with me ready to throw a chock block under a wheel. We achieved our goal of getting the car back into a parking spot ( without hitting other cars!!). We took a moment to go through clothes we had left to retrieve for the wedding and were off to talk with a car repair company in St Marys. They would eventually tow the car and find that there were several areas where the brake fluid was escaping.
Out on the highway, doing 75 mph, to get to NC we had the sudden realization that however we damaged the rental car it pales in comparison to what could have been had the brakes failed on the highway. Still gives me shivers.
Our next job was to notify our insurance company and Thrift rentals of the ‘incident’. “Oh yes that’s right”, I replied, ” we hit the rental with our own personal vehicle”. I tried to avoid the entire story as much as possible. I think my insurance agent commented that she hoped it would be a better day. So, now in addition to the $1000 in repairs on the Suburban for the brake system ,which DID NOT TAKE A SCRATCH, we had a $500 deductible due. This is because the insurance company treated ” the incident” as if we hit our own car. In reality, had we hit any one of the other parked cars in the lot we would not have to pay a deductible. Just our luck I guess….this little ” vacay ” from Lost Loon was already proving to bust our sailing budget for the month.
We continued on to North Carolina amidst traffic we had not seen in months. We also came to notice more than ever the highways littered with billboards. We were so used to an unobstructed view of the flat ocean. Traffic lights seemed longer and congested byways were frustrating. We will admit that shopping at Publix that evening was a treat. All the products were visible in English and we found a lot of our favorite and familiar products. We appreciated hearing English as a primary language. One takes for granted many of these things in our everyday living.
The best part of our trip, I’ll admit was seeing the kids again. Chris and Jenni are expecting in June and we have sadly missed a lot of the pregnancy, that has been thankfully uneventful. We did see Kelsey’s new home as well as our second grand puppy!! I also got to see my mom and brother whom I haven’t seen since last August. We spent some beach time and relaxing time during the weekend. The wedding of Jo and Jordie Bellairs was beautiful. We like no tomorrow these few days. The ceremony took place in a small chapel on the grounds of Palmetto Bluff as well as the grande celebration afterward. It was a terrific trip, despite ‘the accident’.
We finished the trip with a few stops in Ft Lauderdale for boat parts. We found everything we needed in 3 stops. Our flight , amazingly was on time, and we were actually 30 minutes ahead of schedule upon descent. I am finishing this blog as we see Guadeloupe come into view below the plane. We are back ‘home’ on Lost Loon in a short time, unpacking, and excited for the next 6 weeks of travel until we take the boat out in Grenada and head back to Wisconsin.
Sorry no pics…. c’est la vie!
I have more on Guadeloupe…..just wanted to keep everyone up to date….Ciao!