Thursday 4 July 2013
After a lifetime spent enjoying the officious attentions of customs and immigration in countries all over the world St. Martin is a revelation: fill out boat and personal info on the computer, print it out, pay $7 US for a stamp and you're done. Except for the bizarro AWERTY keyboard it would take maybe 5 minutes.
After that grueling exercise (someone forgot to temporarily park dink on that side, so entire crew walked the 100 meters around inner Port La Royale to Capitainerie), stopped for brekky of eggs, bacon, croissant and bagette at closest beanery. Pan au Chocolat has been temporarily delayed, but anticipation will give our lives purpose until tomorrow.
Bought lots of crap at Island Water World chandlery.
Due putting out numerous fires (figure of speech) such as rebuilding outboard fuel pump with newly acquired outboard fuel pump kit (ya can't just buy the one stinkin' little gasket), disconnecting every possible battery source (and not being able to depower DC panel - doesn't seem safe, does it?) to finally reset Link 2000 inverter control panel which had gone catatonic and some other chores that seemed more important at the time (what was I thinking?), had breakfast of cereal with yogurt and again missed out on pan au chocolat. To paraphrase the immortal words of someone's favorite president, "this outrage will not stand". To quote no one's favorite author, "the anticipation will give our lives purpose until tomorrow".
Bought lots of crap at Budget Marine chandlery.
- Tomorrow's tomorrow (that would make it, let's see, Saturday)
After sleeping in due extravagant ingestion of rum punches at Lagoonies last evening, dragged sorry butt out for brekkie in Marigot (French side) avec pan au chocolat before heading to fresh market. Although life's primary goal has now been achieved, resultant happiness has infused corporeal being and spiritual essence so expect to carry on much as before.
Contemplation of effort necessary to utilize crap obtained from Budget and Wally World began to impinge upon ebullient disposition, so found more felicitous topics for thought.
Sandy Ground Bridge
Wednesday 3 July 2013
Almost as predicted by GRIB (Generally Ridiculed Idiotic Bunk), but more, wind picked up last evening. We're bouncing around like a squirrel on a caffeine high in 20-25 knots on the beam and lumpy sea. Fighting against over a knot current we're still beating feet when only a rap on the knuckles would do (If you made sense of that, you've been reading this crap too long and should get out more). However, hate to slow greatly as it doesn't much help the ride and arrival soonest wouldn't suck. Although we may anchor in Bay off Marigot (called, oddly enough, Baie Du Marigot) would like to keep option open to make first bridge opening at 0815 into the more protected Simpson Bay Lagoon (Grand Etang De Simpson Baai) nearer chandleries and (since it's still iffy) outboard engine facility.
- A little later
Promised tropical wave has complemented the adventure with, so far, one 35 knot, 3.5 meter squall. HF propagation last 2 days was too poor to confirm, but pleased to say that is now redundant. Looking forward with joyful anticipation to periodic repeats over next 24 hours. Except for the walls of water that rear up above port beam every several seconds and hurl us skyward like an elevator, we feel becalmed when wind drops to 22. Another appendage or two for cleaving to boat would be helpful in these situations. Prehensile tails are way underrated.
Have been asked if, on passage, one anchors for the night. Seriously. OK, seems like a good idea. Drop the hook, pop on the anchor light and go to sleep secure in the knowledge that proper maritime rules have been observed. Last night we were about 7000 meters above the bottom. A bit of ciphering indicates that a minimum of 60,000 lbs. of chain would be necessary (boat weighs 27K) and link breaking strength is a factor of maybe 7 less than that. Or, alternatively, enough nylon rope in compact rolls would take up around 27 cubic meters of room (anchor locker is maybe 3). So, there we are stuck to the bottom, without stabilization from the sails in a 3 to 4 meter sea. We normally sail through the night because it gets us in quicker. Jan takes second (twoth) watch from midnight to 0400 because she doesn't like getting up early.
Thursday U.S. Independence Day
Landfall after a long passage is less cause for amazement than it once was, but still exciting. Glow from Anguilla was visible quite a while before discrete lights could be seen. Still looking to make early opening in St. Martin if bridge tender isn't on holiday celebrating American independence. Hey, he could be. The French gave us that big green statue didn't they? OK, maybe celebrating liberty wasn't as important as pissing off the British because of that Napoleon thing, but still... We should know in a couple of hours and either way a pan du chocolat or two are in our near future.
Tuesday 2 July 2013
Today is July 2th, following the 1th and preceding the 3th. "What a moron", you're thinking. "It should be 1st, 2nd and 3rd". But why should those three not end like other ordinal numbers? Is it because firth, seconth and thirth mimic a speech impediment? How about if we used the same convention of adding 'th' to the cardinal pronunciation (ignore 5) and said oneth, twoth and threeth? English is wonderful because it's so nuanced, but here's a place we can simplify without harm. I mean, criminy guys, the language is complicated enough; let's lose the 'st', 'nd' and 'rd'. Then, when this little peccadillo gets fixed, we can sort oneteen, twoteen and threeteen.
We're 60 off apparent wind, going like stink with reefed sails, east of St. Martin's longitude and going farther. When trades really hit tonight should be in great shape to bear off and coast in around east side of Anguilla. May even slow down to avoid pre-dawn arrival Thursday. Love it when a plan comes together.
Still ruminating on what boat work to do while in town. With major chandleries, boat yards, expertise in every system and duty free status, Sint Maarten provides a propitious locale ("good spot" for you power boaters). Regrettably, the forecast "much more active than normal" hurricane season is lurking just over the horizon with its baleful portent and this chariot isn't covered north of Grenada. An alternator isn't alternating, a fridge isn't fridging, a watermaker pump isn't pumping and sometime or other 15 year old rigging wants re-rigging. Other items too numerous to mention are too numerous to ignore.
"So", you may query, "why wasn't all this stuff done in Miami or Georgetown"? "Well", it might be retorted, "besides the bits conking en route and not wanting Jack to be a dull boy, there was other stuff - important stuff - to do"... OK fine, it was mostly that twoth favorite deadly sin thing (see previous). So there! Are you happy now?
Sunday 30 June 2013
Wind backed quickly and sooner than forecast so after motor-sailing into it for awhile yesterday afternoon to get easting, gave up and tacked onto port farther west than hoped. Given wind angle and 25 knot squalls interspersed with no wind overnight, lost more ground to the west, but wind has steadied so we're now just laying Marigot Bay. Still looking to get further upwind as trades are predicted to intensify Tuesday night for the duration. To maintain comfortable ride will want ability to fall off and still make landfall.
Wind finally backed into the east, so have come off 10 degrees and still making good progress east. ETA Thursday morning. With just an occasional squall, weather has been beautiful and North Atlantic kind.
Not feeling very droll last couple of days after hearing that Evi Nemeth (73) and five others have been missing at sea for nearly a month. The 85 year old schooner "Nina" departed Opua, New Zealand on 29 May and was last heard from 4 June in a full gale with seas to 8 meters (26 feet). I handled lines for "Whoosh" through the Panama Canal alongside Evi's boat "Wonderland" in early 2010 and became good friends as we met often crossing the Pacific and in New Zealand. She is a remarkable lady, a cheerful and adventurous spirit who sails her boat occasionally solo, but usually with a crew of friends and/or nieces. Hoping for the best.
Track to St. Martin
Saturday 29 June 2013
So, we have email again one may aver. Well yes, but not at first. It was this morning before delayed exudate was finally cast into the ether. After getting all the bits talking yesterday everything seemed to work, but after connecting to an MBO, virtually no data was exchanged. Transmissions swallowed up by the Bermuda Triangle like that squadron of trainers, one might suspect? Anomalous electro-magnetic interference from alien reconnaissance spacecraft hiding in a deep trench while casing the planet for annihilation, possibly? Low battery voltage? Could have been any one of these, but after cranking the generator to charge batteries before talking to Chris (Marine Weather guy) and setting the radio on high power (a fanciful measure) off it went. As we're approaching 1000 miles from any station and propagation has been iffy on voice the last 2 days, guess we're back to normal.
Not expecting to see much traffic on this passage, the number of sightings is a surprise. There has been at least one every day. Altering course 20 degrees was necessary this afternoon to avoid a Brazilian ship at 17 knots that was steaming up our wazoo (use of this word may create some confusion among those who have subjected themselves to this malarkey for awhile. The normal definition is: a repository for storing specific items that, with an overabundance, produces leakage, e.g., "we caught so many fish, we had omega 3s out the wazoo". Current usage describes a place one would prefer not leak). Although comforting to know there are others stupid enough to venture into the North Atlantic during hurricane season, it presents us with a vexatious obligation to actually look around now and again. Man, somebody should have said something before we spent all that money on this boat.
Having made excellent progress last day or two we could get to 63W (approximate longitude of Sint Maarten) by morning. As wind is forecast to back into the east southeast by then, tacking onto port may allow laying destination without much discomfort. Assuming the urge strikes to adorn some of these entries with photos, will snap a picture of our circuitous chart plotter track as we have chased the wind around.
"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later." - Mitch Hedberg
Friday 28 June 2013
Had a fright last evening. Serial to USB converter, which connects computer to both Pactor modem and SSB radio, stopped working - no email; no written communication. Egad! That's like being in the middle of an ocean all by yourself.. Oh, right. Anyway, notwithstanding that blog readers would be spared for a time, it was something of a catastrophe at this end. This drivel could still be written, of course, creating a deluge of pent up effluvium upon recontact with internet thus provoking literary apoplexy (cool), but GRIBs (Gerbil Related Insipid Balderdash) would be unavailable to give erroneous wind forecasts. Plus Jan actually does something positive with the capability. This assumes, as some may, that communicating with the greater world in a non-psychotic manner is good. After trying everything else (this is almost always a misstatement as hardly anyone sacrifices a virgin), swapped identical data cable with printer (another inaccuracy, particularly in this case as they are different color) to occasion operation of both appliances. Felicitous outcome was, no doubt, facilitated by blind luck and liberal utilization of 4 letter incantations.
Sailing to weather (means wind is closer to the pointy end, Cal) is often avoided as it is generally more obstreperous and less comfortable than sailing off the wind. As this passage was to be entirely hard on the wind, expectations were low. So far however, except for squalls first day, this has been a remarkably pleasant trip. True wind has rarely exceeded 14 knots, keeping seas down, and boat speed at high angles has been an agreeable surprise. Much more noticeable than with the Cabo Rico, sailing fast upwind increases apparent wind speed which causes boat to sail faster which increases apparent wind speed even more which causes boat to sail even faster which causes... Fortunately, as velocity increases, wind vector moves forward preventing approach to the speed of light at which point we would nearly fill the universe and time aboard would be way, way slower than for everyone else. As we neared St. Martin inhabitants would be incredibly old and the Sun would have exploded making the island somewhat more difficult to find. Is physics a great science or what?