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Anthem Adrift
A Life of Crime
05/25/2009, Charlestown, Nevis

May 25

Clearing in and out at Charlestown, Nevis required four stops and 2 1/2 hours with a break for mutton lunch. Then, as anchoring is forbidden, moved to moorings a mile north. Place is nice and people are friendly, but hardly seems worth an 18 hour stay.

Finessed neglecting to clear out of Statia (arrived Sunday, left 0600 Monday) by neglecting to mention being there. No one seemed to notice immigration stamp dated 24th. The life of a criminal is fraught with angst. Pass the rum, please.

Fearing for my safety (and sanity) trying to beach dinghy in medium surf on Pinney's Beach near Sunshine Beach Bar and Grill, Inspiration Lady enlisted passing tender to save me with an offer for happy hour on their boat. The Brit Samaritan and spouse were invited as well for a bloody (an expression used by the English who speak a language somewhat similar to ours) good evening. David and Jackie on "Jackster" (really, Pam!) are newlyweds and new to sailing. Bought their Amel at $1.80 to the pound in Ft. Lauderdale to begin a circumnavigation. Will join coterie traveling to Monserrat and Antigua.

Lights from Basse Terre (NOT a French expression for child of unwed parents), St. Kitts, ten NM away, look like St. Thomas. Nevisians show no ostensible jealousy.

Tomorrow we sleep in to 0630 for 30 NM motorsail to the volcano.

Jack

Long Day
05/24/2009, Oranjestad, Statia

May 24

Wind didn't back as forecast until late afternoon, but made good time motorsailing in freshening breeze with all sail.

Left boat at 1330 to clear in and didn't get back until 2100 due to more than one purveyor of refreshment and comestibles. Found a well-maintained town after grueling climb up 200' cliff to upper Oranjestad.

Jehovah's Witness has been collecting money for a church under construction for 18 years. Existence of only a bare frame probably indicates high overhead. Be sure to contribute soon and often.

Jack

Hot Items and Big Plans
05/23/2009, St. Maarten

May 23

Sale items at Budget Marine were everything no one wants, but still managed to make the kitty scream. Big chunk was for new wind instrument as fixers couldn't and wouldn't be in shop until noon, so dinked across harbor to clear out, then back across to pay for bench test and pick up crippled unit (still shows wind direction, usually).

Temperatures haven't climbed, but humidity has and wind is light. Highs haven't been above 85 (that's 29 for you furriners), but lows are in the mid 70s. After growing up, after age eight, in piedmont South Carolina (too far from mountains, too far from ocean and nasty hot sometimes) swore to never again live with that swelter. That worked out well - not. Actually, on the boat at anchor sleeping comfort is usually very good and fans help if necessary.

Went through Dutch bridge at 1730 to anchor in rolly Simpson Bay. After meticulously gathering all available data, creating charts, graphs, schematics and making scientific models using trigonometry and calculus, plan weighing of anchor (no change) at 0600 to sail motorless (he said with great confidence) for St. Eustatius (Statia, about 35 NM) tomorrow then, over ensuing days, to beat down through Nevis and Monserrat for motorless (he reiterates confidence) sail to Antigua on Thursday. Latest cackahlation shows probability of this exactly 27.83455733 percent.

Jack

Justifiable Homicide
05/22/2009, St. Martin

May 22

After petit dejeuner Americain consisting of plus facile d'oeufs, bacon croustillant and croissant, ran jerry can drill to replenish onboard diesel (gazole strangely does not indicate gasoline) sufficient to make Trinidad (he said hopefully). After that, climbed hill overlooking Marigot to Fort Louis (Lwee) which helped the inhabitants, according to them, beat the stink out of some Brits in 1808 trying to steal their coffee. "And not one bean was taken".

Delay here has allowed for my presence, tomorrow, at Budget Marine's big sale which should, along with instrument repair, correct last month's regrettably small VISA bill. Smile, Liz!

Dined at a Chinese restaurant which had, besides good food, loud Caribbean music, a mercifully muted BET Rap-off on the big-screen JVC and a child enthralled with its ability to continually shriek at 100 decibels. My years of traveling in coach prevented an unfortunate infanticide which would probably have miffed the parents and might have further delayed departure.

Probability is medium to good for passage through Dutch bridge out of lagoon at 1730 tomorrow to either keep going or anchor for nap and leave wee hours depending on destination. Will decide tomorrow after more ciphering. Forecast indicates 4 to 6 day window of easy winds before necessity to be in Antigua.

Jack

Cruising Warranty Invalid
05/21/2009, St. Martin

Royal Marina, Marigot

May 21

It's a scurrilous trick. Here's the deal. Trade winds blow from the east, right? Caribbean Islands run north/south, right? Ergo sailing on a reach, right? Not so fast there Hornblower. Lesser Antilles, while proceeding south, continue eastward to Martinique and St. Lucia at which point they begin curving southwest. Also, trades (measured in degrees based on true north) in the winter are ENE to NE, but by this time of year shift ESE to SE. So let's assume that St. Maarten to Jolly Harbour, Antigua is a magnetic course of 143 degrees. Let's further assume that wind in foreseeable future is from 120 degrees. And finally assume that magnetic variation is 14 degrees west making magnetic wind direction 134 degrees. Bugger! Only consolation is relatively light wind and seas over weekend if one can believe weasels des weather. Plan from here still ajuggle (not a real word).

Good news is that steering no longer wheezes, newly eye-spliced and whipped (my lawyers say this is not torture) anchor snubber is doing so, wifi antenna has been rewired to use all available USB power and compass nightlight brightness (thanks to installation of right sized resister) is like baby bear's porridge. Also, manuals bag (in dim past masquerading as a flight bag), which tends to ramble around cabin of a sail, has been provided a fiddle to quell its curious nature. All left for tomorrow is hosing out horrendous mess throughout. Acid test of Swiffer.

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." - Douglas Adams

Jack

Ganja, Better Than Rum?
05/20/2009, St. Martin

May 19

Hit the ground running. Frig. fixed (maybe), wind instrument being tested, windlass controller mostly installed (awaiting 5/8" hole saw), Anchor snubber parts and dinghy valve purchased. Also bussed to Dutch capitol to replace glasses that broke - cheap junk. New glasses are not, so plan to lose in short order.

Went to Kangaroo court (a bar/restaurant) in Philipsburg for iced tea (sacrilege) and asparagus muffin (it's good for you). Highly recommended with open courtyard and great ambiance for when you find yourself with nothing to do in Sint Maarten. Disregard all entreaties that include the words "Hey Buddy, want some ganja, Buddy". Only had tea, Angela. Pinky swear.

May 20

Lay down to rest at 1900 and slept until 2130. After using shower and toothbrush crashed until 0715.

Spent better part of day in bilge with tools, including bending and filing implements, fixing exhaust leak and cleaning up well sooted lazarette. Way fun. Discovered multitudinous additional stuff to do while down there including removing and replumbing for redundant H2O accumulator which was broken pummeling exhaust into place. Head to ankle in greasy soot with no water system. Way fun twice.

However, engine is sootless, windlass is winding, new dinghy valve is holding and bilge work will end with spray paint of wire-brushed and Ospho'd rusty bits. Instrument tested defective and will be fixed (he is assured) by Saturday morning. Tomorrow is Ascension Day and nobody works.

After crushing finger with newly robust windlass while trying to disengage chain hook (bloody and painful - no I didn't ice it as appropriate) hurried over to Turtle Pier for last cruiser happy hour of the season then second go of all-you- can-eat ribs at Lady-C. Returned home for ibuprofen, Zantac and second early night.

Tomorrow may consist of some boat work, but mostly island exploration and sloth. Hey, it's a holiday! Friday should see end of most maintenance duty. Depending on weather (wind is forecast coming from any logical destination) plan to crash and bash to Antigua Saturday night.

Jack

No One Loves a Quiter
05/18/2009, St. Martin

Witch's Tit

May 18

Woke up this morning without refrigeration. Wind instrument had already bid adieu. Local frig guy couldn't get by until late day and, based on dining costs, figured to clean out the kitty. Windlass controller works sporadically due to corrosion, lazarette is accumulating soot from possible exhaust leak and several other things need attention, reference previously mentioned maintenance free socializing, plus departed lagoon earlier than originally planned. Oh yeah, north swell will be kicking donkey until Friday. Conceded a message from God, so returned to St. Martin to work out kinks in best location.

Arrived at anchor by Witch's Tit (did not make it up) in time to arrange for Adler-Barbour maintenance and head to all-you-can-eat ribs at floating two-mast restaurant. Ate more than that.

Met two visiting couples at dinner who thought cruising was unending pina colada sunsets. Explained to them that they were wrong. Sunsets occasionally accompanied by rum punch or beer. Tonight was wine.

Still forming personal zeitgeist for this lifestyle. Hard to be mellow without being torpid. Hard to be conscientious without missing the fun.

Jack

Angie Baby
05/17/2009, Gustavia, St. Barts

May 17

Despite earlier reports, Colombier was rolly and Gustavia more calm - probably due to recent imposition of north swell. Discovered when clearing in that moorings (fore and aft) in inner harbor are same price as anchoring awaaaay out there in very full boonyland. Anthem is surrounded by downtown.

Sidewalks were folded up for Sunday, but expect gracious welcome tomorrow... at a price. Small Diet Coke on ice at waterfront bar was 3 Euro, around $4.15. Yowee! Dinner at home tonight, but maybe breakfast ashore after long, restful, cheap night.

Gustavia is small and very prosperous. Looked for Glitterati, but the streets were bare. Really expect to see Brad & Angelina, tomorrow. They must know I'm here. I mean, I have a web site. Perhaps some prior notice would have been prudent in case they're out of internet range in Lower Agriblovia assimilating another child.

Notwithstanding indicated intent to accomplish boat maintenance in lieu of fraternizing with fellow cruiser trash, did bubkis all day. Possibility exists that tomorrow will be more productive unless importuned by someone to jet over to Monte Carlo for an evening of baccarat. Would demur unless proffered by first tier celebrity.

Jack

Progress?
05/16/2009, Anse de Colombier, St. Barts

May 16

Customs opened at 0900, so 1130 bridge was earliest escape from lagoon. Could have reached Statia on one tack, but St. Barts was closer. Nice two-tack beat to St. Barts in moderate seas and good wind (wind speed instrument is kaput, probably delayed result of previous lightning strike. Will fix or replace earliest opportunity). Picked up free mooring #13 in Anse de Colombier, a few miles NW of the capitol, Gustavia. Plan to clear in tomorrow and stay a couple of days until squalls ease on Tuesday.

Plans from then a bit fuzzy. Will either run down through chain that includes Statia, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat or make a 13 to 15 hour passage straight to Antigua. Wind, weather and whim will dictate. Since next season plan includes returning this way, compulsion to visit every island somewhat muted.

Have gotten addicted to socializing since Luperon with minimum boat maintenance resulting. Will try to correct that revolting development here and henceforth (or at least until catching up with more friends). Looking forward to a down day or two to recharge.

Really, really rough estimate for future progress: Guadaloupe last week of May; Dominica first week of June; Martinique second week; St. Lucia third week; St. Vincent and Grenadines end of June; Grenada first week of July.

Jack

Happy Place
05/15/2009, St. Martin

May 15

Johnson outboard is in it's happy place again, so Stabil (ref. yesterday), justified or not, will join 2-cycle oil in every tank. Total laundry bill was $9 to allow another three weeks of non-odorous living. Purchase of pineapple juice and coconut cream for rum allows non-odorous living to be worthwhile.

Philipsburg, with cruise ship in harbor, is livelier than without and yet, not crappy. Had egg, cheese and corned beef hash in johnny cake for breakfast (a Dutch/Caribbean Egg MacMuffin). Wandered around town perusing shops, eating Chinese lunch and allowing Gary (Inspiration Lady) to purchase an Acer net book for which he lusted. French side is more upscale and expensive; Dutch side accommodates most boat stuff and best cruiser bars. My favorite is...

Thanks to new wifi setup, conversation with Liz tonight(on Skype) was first since USVI. This unit may have a little better range, arguably, but the big deal is stability. Mac often gets no respect with limited market applications.

Tentative plan, written in jello, is to clear out tomorrow, French side, earliest AM to make 0930 Dutch bridge en route to some part of St. Barts (short sail on best weather day for awhile). St. Kitts next with possibility of either Barbuda or Montserrat (the erupting volcano island) to allow angle for engineless sail to Antigua, which is upwind of the Kittster. Will leave Anguilla, Saba and Statia (St. Eustatius) for another pass.

Enjoyed stay in Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. Hope to be back. Current thinking is another go at the Eastern Caribbean next season before??? All to be revealed in the fullness of time.

Jack

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