Carl and I knew we would have to leave St. Thomas if we wanted to finish refitting La Creole. The question was, where to. Trinidad offered some good craftsman for the things we couldn’t do ourselves but there was still that shipping problem. Going back to the US was high on our list especially since we had been gone for four years. It also presented an opportunity to see family again. We would sit and talk about it in our moments of free time weighing the pros and cons of each place. Our Friends Jamie and Keith on Kookaburra used to kid us about dropping our mooring, heading out the channel and flipping a coin…heads, go South, tails, go North.
After months of preparation and finishing up with our full time jobs we decided to come back to the US. All the projects on La Creole up to this point had been getting her shipshape. She had only been sailed in the islands and didn’t have any electronics on her, not even a working depth sounder. Since this was all part of the refit we had to decide what she absolutely needed to make the crossing safety. If you have been following our blogs, you know what those items are.
At one time I had been looking at joining a rally to head back home. Our thinking was that there was safety in numbers but it’s very expensive. I also noticed that although there are very experienced sailors in the rally, it was really geared to folks who are new at long distance sailing. Together, we had already placed thousands of miles under the keel of our previous boat Sanctuary, that, and the fact that Carl had experienced “big water” as an officer on several Navy ships and I had single handed for about five years prior to our meeting made us decide not to go that route.
Our friends on Celebration, Steve and Lynn told us about another rally. “The Salty Dawg Rally,” was geared to experienced sailors and best of all it was free! We began doing some research and decided this was the rally for us. The timing was perfect, the organizers were great and the activities planned would reward us for all the hard work we had done to prepare La Creole.
We all know how difficult watches can be on a crossing so we called Carl’s brother Steve to see if he would I like to come along. He and Carl had done some chartering from time to time and he sailed some with his father so he had some experience. He excitedly said yes and asked for time off from work. We would get emails from him expressing his excitement and I began to worry that he might not know what he was in for. One night while touching base with him I told Carl to tell him that this might not be a walk in the park. That didn’t scare him off and in no time we were picking him up at the airport in St. Thomas. It was time to go!