By Jackie Leavitt
It’s been 45 minutes since the last time I walked slowly and carefully down the marina pool steps into the shallow, four-foot water. Time for another dip. Each stair drops me further and further into the cooling water, washing away the heat that threatened my sanity. After a quick swim, I climb out into the 20-knot wind that instantly chills me, reinstating my usual level-headedness, although it will assuredly slink slowly away as the moisture evaporates into the broiling, humid air. I had been at a breaking point. It’s HOT in St. George, Grenada — way too hot.
When sailing south from the Grenadines, we had issues pop up with the boat’s engine and propeller. We limped Bueller into the Fort Louis Marina, her propeller and engine wobbling loudly and weakly. We usually avoid marinas, but in here, we could more easily get professional help to figure out and fix the problems than if we anchored further away in the harbor. But we soon come face to face with another dilemma: the heat.
After securing the boat to the dock, the boys got to work with troubleshooting while I got to work on the 100 bananas we have on board. Three weeks ago, Lars had proudly purchased a giant bunch of green bananas in Dominica, and they were now all becoming edible — all at once. The sun had finally ripened them. And in my enthusiasm to use up the bruised and black ones, today I committed to making banana pancakes, banana bread and banana cake in the shape of a banana.
As the heat slowly seeped into the boat, I managed to make breakfast and begin the cake before I felt the fever start. But my usual means of cooling off weren’t available. We usually anchor Bueller in harbors off the coast, where we can swim and get fresh air rounding off the nearby islands. But here, there’s no swimming, as you don’t know what crud is circulating in the marina’s murky and still water. And although we are docked, our spot doesn’t have electricity, which means no AC. And I’m a gal that has never lived with air conditioning, but with our boat pointing away from the wind, we get no breeze flowing into the vessel to relieve us from the baking light and oven.
And the sun — it’s relentless. Constantly intense. Always there. Beating down, trying to break you. The frequent and quick rain showers in Grenada show no sign of appearing today, either. And the oven acts as an evil furnace, billowing heat waves over me. With sweat pouring down my face and body, I try to escape the cabin by evacuating into the cockpit. But the rays still rain down. I decide to create more shade by zipping the bimini closed, but it only stretches the unused zipper too far, ripping the thread out. Then I try clipping a flat bed sheet over the area, but the wind billows it out, flinging the precious clips into the water, where I have to rescue them via kayak.
I give up, frustrated. I feel like bursting into tears. There is no escape. Richie, the only one else left on the boat, tries to help but also timidly shrinks away from my ferocity. “I can handle New England winters,” I tell him, “but I can’t handle this.” He recommends meekly that I might check out the marina pool. So I abandon ship and my banana cake to seek sanity in the pool’s water, shade and cocktail list.
I walk over to find four kids splashing and hooting through the pool, their moms stationed in the tiny shade triangle hanging over some lounge chairs. They, too, are seeking relief from this fry. I join the children, and the first dip washes away the heat and sweat and tension. Walking wet back into the wind to a palm tree–shaded chair chills me and brings back my wits and lucidity. And then drying off in the shade with a margarita welcomes back my tolerance and amiability. Every 45 minutes I repeat the ritual, holing up in the shade until the sweaty and hot Lars, frustrated from his own day, finds me there three hours later, cool as a cucumber.