On one of the days at our new anchoring spot I looked ahead, got out the binoculars, and was shocked to see a boat we recognized from home. Critical Path, a Beneteau First 51, is owned by a couple from Sarasota, Florida. Before starting our Caribbean adventures in 2011, we’d raced against this boat many times including one race to Mexico, and we ran across them on one of our trips to the Bahamas some years ago, 2004 I think. What an incredibly small world.
There’s so many things we wanted to do in Grenada this year, lots more exploring the island, outings with our friends. Although we were very disappointed, we knew our change in plans was for the best. There will be another chance to visit next year, and with luck, we’ll have all the time in the world.
We chose our departure time for the trip south to Trinidad based on my evaluation of wind, current, and our boat speed, and left by ourselves at 17:00 hours on May 12th. The other three boats all left much later because they didn’t want to sail through the night. With favorable wind and current we had an extraordinarily fast trip, so fast we actually had to shorten sail around midnight, reducing our speed to reach the coast just at dawn. We pulled into the Customs dock at 0800 after lazing along for the last six hours at under 4 knots.
John and Genie pulled in quite late that day and had to pay overtime charges to the Immigration folks. Native Dancer had engine troubles and didn’t arrive until the following day, about the same time as Magic. Our decision to leave Grenada was very fortunate because there was not another weather window for the remainder of our time in Trinidad.
We arrived in Trinidad on Monday May 13th, and as always, our first stop is the Immigration office, second floor in the yellow building, last on the right in the photo, then on to Customs. As we spoke to the Immigration Officer, he told us Erika could not legally enter the country and she would have to go back to Grenada. As Captain of Ocean Angel, it was my responsibility to take her there. Say what?!
Erika and her husband had failed to file for Immigration extensions for themselves and their yacht; their 90 day visas had run out. After much pleading including the pressing need for my surgery at one of their hospitals, the Immigration officer agreed to “take care of the problem”. Two hours later, after everyone else in the office had left, we had our paperwork, passports, and visas back in our hands and were legally entitled to stay in country. Erika and I both smiled, thanked the man several times, and walked out breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Here’s a very important lesson to be learned – if you take on crew in a situation such as this one, be certain that not only is the crew’s passport stamped, but their visa is still current.