It’s not a pretty sight is it? What’s even worse is that there are about fifteen more similar but much smaller tears all over the clew section of our Genoa. On the second day of our seven day passage from Isla Mujeres, MX to Providencia, CO the clew shackle on the jib broke in two pieces and while we were busy reefing the main a sharp piece of metal still on the clew worked like a dagger to slice and tear the sail as it flopped violently in the wind. Did I mention we were reefing the main…

The wind on our trip was forecast low so the small tears weren’t the end of the world. We continued to sail another five days with the sail as it was. When we arrived in Providencia we were able to see the magnitude of the damage and I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming to see how many places were going to need repairing. Especially since we have ZERO experience repairing sails.

Soon after we arrived the winds picked up to 20-25 knots with higher gusts and proceeded to stay that way for the next month. Since I’d be working on the deck the sail could wait…Besides there was so much fun to be had here!

During our fun month, void of most boat projects (except rebedding a leaking deck prism and fixing the muffler leak) I spent quite a lot of time on our precious internet researching the best way to repair the sail. There is not a dedicated sail maker in Providencia so the work was all on Tate and myself. Plus we are DIYers and cringe at the thought of paying someone to fix something that we might be able to instead.

After hours scouring the web I found a trick used by sail makers repairing old sails. Contact cement and sail tape. You contact cement both sides of the sail tear and after it’s dry you put the sail tape on top on both sides. You also stagger the sailtape on each side so you don’t create a “hard edge” making the tape more likely to peel up.

When dacron sails are old and UV damaged like ours sail tape doesn’t have much to stick to. What I’ve read is that the contact cement gives the sail tape a better base to hold on good, for the life of the sail even. Also a stroke of luck. Sewing wasn’t recommended to patch an old sail because the holes in the sail basically make a perforated edge that says “tear here”. No sewing is a TON less work for me so this was very good news indeed.

No matter how prepared you think you are when issues arise your inadequacies are magnified. When we left I bought a hand palm, lots of thread and needles and a bit of sail material. I also packed some sail tape that came with the boat. While I thought I had everything I needed to repair the sail a quick look at the sail tape proved otherwise. The labelling looked like it was from the 90’s and the tape wasn’t very sticky and had turned a brown color. Seeing how this island is a remote paradise no such items exist for sale and buying anything to get it shipped here is really just too complex and unreliable. Providencia does have contact cement though, lots of it!

Luckily some fellow cruisers here in the anchorage, Steve and Vicki on SV Tango had some spare sail tape that they happily offered us. It was like gold and in return, even though they asked for nothing, we gave them some good bug spray, tea tree oil and some computer help. Bartering is king in these parts…Money doesn’t fix a sail a paradise, sail tape does.

Then one day the unthinkable happened! The winds stopped and I wasted no time getting the sail back out to make use of a good few days. After washing the deck and then the sail on both sides with laundry detergent I let it dry in the sun.

The next day I used a puty knife to spread contact cement over the tears and generally where I was going to put the tape.

Then I measured and cut pieces of sail tape for each tear or group of tears and then rounded the edges to prevent peel up. I can’t say that I am proud of this repair. I mean lets be honest, it’s ugly as hell. BUT…I have faith in it and the tape is stuck like white on rice. AND…perhaps it’s just one more deterrent for a would be pirate looking through his telescope. It matches our flaky paint mast, what I lovingly refer to as our pirate stick. Not that pirates are a thing here, not since Captain Morgan in the 1600’s that is.

Here’s some close ups of the repair. (All of these photos have high contrast to show the repair. It is less visible in natural lighting)

Long gone are the days of pictures like these

So now the repair is done and there is nothing holding us back from progressing to Panama, except Providencia itself and all the fun times we have here. Just a few days ago You Tube blogger Nike (Neeka) and Matthieu from White Spot Pirate (maybe you’ve heard of them?) arrived. Nike picked up Matthieu in San Andres and they were sailing to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala when a lower shroud broke, forcing them to stop here for repairs. We’ve met up a few times for spearfishing and fun in town. They are super cool.

I’m pretty sure they have festivals and holidays every Monday. Instead of dreading Mondays the people of Providencia party. Seems like a smart idea.

It’s been fun to hang out with some other cruisers our age and in fact it’s becoming a trend as right before Karl (Nike’s boat) arrived we hung out with some other cool cats Austrians Gunther and Gerlinde on SV Muoza and Germans Jonathan and Claudia on SV Inti. Check out our Friends page for a list of boats we follow on various journeys.

With all of the boats from different places there is a mix of language that gets spoken. Most people from Europe we’ve met know English as well as either Spanish, French or German. Some don’t know English but know Spanish or French making it possible to communicate through a common language even if it isn’t your first.

The longer I’m away from the US the more important it seems to know multiple languages. I still study Spanish most days and am actually getting better. I want it to move quicker but learning a new language is really hard and slow for me. I hope I am turning a corner and it will be a bit easier now that I know a lot of the basics.

So when are we going to leave this place? We were set on leaving in a week or two but we’ve purchased some new water toys and really want to make the most of our time here and save some more money (to pay for said water toys). Our tourist visa is good until Sept 5th and we just might make the best of it.