The last time we visited Guadeloupe was in 2011 on our way south to Trinidad, and we spent about a week exploring but only had the chance to see one half of the territory, Basse Terre, the western island. This time we planned to explore the eastern island, Grand Terre along with a few favorites from the last visit.
We sailed a close hauled course from Dominica directly into the harbor that connects to the Riviere Salee which divides the country into the two islands. Once we fell under the lee of the southeastern tip of Grand Terre the seas flattened and Ocean Angel sliced through the water cleanly tearing up the last few miles all the way in right to the area where we planned to anchor. Lots of boats were crowded in the best water, as always, and we had to anchor on the very edge of the main shipping channel. Too close really.
Remember we’d blown two slides out of our mainsail just a short while ago? There’s a North Sail loft right in the Bas du Fort Marina complex, and the morning after arriving, I dinghied in to the marina, cleared Customs, and wandered over to the loft to discuss repairs. Three days to a week at worst case, and that timing was perfect. I’ll say though, that taking the mainsail off the track, removing the full battens, and folding the darn thing into a package small enough to fit in the dinghy is quite a challenge. Our main is North’s heavy 9.5 ounce Premium Nordac Dacron, quite stiff, and the material much prefers to be smooth and straight.
But I got it done, and no sooner had we laid the sail out on the floor of the loft than Benoit said “I can see why your slides exploded and why you have been having such difficulty raising this sail. The slides are unevenly spaced, and this is placing huge load on the plastic slides closest to the sail track also causing the luff to try to be a snake in a straight path. I will need to remove all the fixed slides to align them with your articulating Allslip slide, and this will solve all the problems”. Benoit was correct, and his repairs solved a 9 year old problem. For the first time since the sail was new, I could now raise the sail all the way to the top by hand. Amazing work. I wrote an email to North Sails directly commending his work and suggesting a quality control check for this issue.