As we were leaving The Pitons on Saturday morning, we had an errand to run on the way out. I had wanted to pay a tip to the guy who helped take Trisha and I get to the stables. I had been short on the local currency. So, we left Coconut – our dinghy – attached to the back, and when we rounded the northern Piton I jumped in Coconut and drove to Harmony Beach while Karen and the girls kept Tahina headed for Rodney Bay. I quickly drove on the beach and found one of Benny’s sisters and gave her the money.
Coconut is much faster – especially with just one person on board – than Tahina. So, I quickly caught up to the boat. Karen stopped engines so I could re-attach Coconut to the back. We use two painters (ropes) to attach Coconut between the two hulls of Tahina. A moment later, we had Coconut tied off so I suggested we go ahead and raise sails.
We had yet another delightful sail up the coast. About half way, we had passed a mono-hull and a smaller catamaran and were making tracks comfortably. Karen and I were sitting at the helm and just remarking how nice it was. It was a little noisier than normal with Coconut bouncing behind us as she was pulled along at 8 knots. But, with the sun to our aft starboard, the helm seat was well shaded, and with a port tack, we had a nice breeze blowing on us.
All of the sudden, I noticed a change in the pattern of sound around us. My first thought was someone must be approaching us from behind so I looked to see who it was. Instead, I noticed a change in the view behind us – there was no Coconut! Coconut was a hundred yards behind us and quickly falling behind! I shouted: “Coconut came loose!” We quickly moved to man overboard mode. Karen and I immediately dropped sails, turned on the engines and turned around. Coconut was already nearly 500 yards behind by the time we started closing the distance. A visible demonstration of how important it is to act quickly in a man overboard situation.
We got to Coconut before the catamaran behind us had reached Coconut. They must’ve been wondering what was going on, until they saw the loose dinghy. Karen said their crew looked like they were willing to lend a hand as they went by. But, when they saw we had the two girls on board they probably concluded – correctly – we had plenty of help.
It turns out the stainless steel bracket that the painters were attached to at the bow of Coconut had come loose. The bracket was still attached to the ropes and the nuts were safely at the bottom of the anchor and gas tank well in the dinghy. After we pulled Coconut out of the water and on the deck, we raised our sails again. With the girls help we did it so fast, we were soon catching up and passing the catamaran again. Within a few minutes, I was able to re-attach the bracket and painters to Coconut and all was well again. I’ll have to periodically check the tightness of the nuts now, and avoid pulling the dinghy at those speeds.
We arrived at Rodney Bay late in the afternoon. The girls (including Karen) wanted to eat out, so we got ready and went to the restaurant called H20 at the Rodney Bay Marina. We had a nice dinner and drinks, but went ahead and had some local water as well. That may have been a mistake. More on that later.