Thursday April 19th
We nap, head to shore to clear in, then nap again, then finally get some internet on the boat. It looks squally again, and begins to rain. Do we have the rain catcher up? Why NO, we were too tired after only 2 hours of sleep in the last 30 to do it. But as it keeps raining, we decide no to let this opportunity pass and so don our rain jackets and put up the awning. GOOD THING WE DID! The rain did not abate for quite some time. We caught over 4 inches in a bucket sitting under the edge of the bimini. We also had to unplug the dingy and drop the stern 6 inches to allow the gallons that had accumulated in it to drain out. When we wake up on Friday we discover the water tank nearly full (when it was nearly empty)! What a gift...now we don't have to lug water in jerry jugs from shore.
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
After the weather settled some on Monday we decided to invite some of the boats around us for happy hour, so 5pm we had Wind Shepherd, Kevin and Gayle from Fair Profit, and Gary & Sharron from El Shaddai join us. What a fun time, lots of laughs and sharing of stories, ideas and well...drinks and food. When Cruisers midnight (10pm) rolled around and some of our new friends were still aboard we all laughed again and said...Hey! Time for bed...
We are leaving today with the 11:00am bridge, another overnight of 125 miles to Deshaies, Guadeloupe. So we spend the morning preparing the boat for the overnight passage. Around 10am we hear a hail from the water and our friend Rob, from Laguz pulls up. Rob just flew in last night to join his boat as they are preparing to leave for the Azores, and on to the Med on Friday! It was great to visit with him for a few minutes, and catch up on new grandbabies and future plans for our boats. With luck, we will see them again in Grenada in November.
10:35 up anchor and we make our way to the bridge...There are only 6 sailboats departing this bridge, so we are all able to maneuver easily, and leave in an orderly fashion. Outside in Simpson Bay we discover one of the things we said we were going to attend to while in St Martin...but, well....forgot. When we dropped the main from our St. Thomas crossing we had a reef in it and it got pretty bunched up on the boom. We meant to haul it up on a calm day and straighten it out in advance of todays trip. Well, suffice it to say it took a little bit of time, and wasn't especially pretty...but! we eventually got the full Main up, then threw out the Jib and were sailing for Guadeloupe. I went forward to fix something on the anchor, (before we needed to use it again) and saw a turtle surfacing a few feet off our bow. It looked like he was laughing at us, but I can't be sure. A few hours into the trip we heard a plane engine, and when we looked up realized we were getting a flyover form the Dutch Coast guard. Pretty cool to see a plane not 60 feet off our beam ~ We waved and said thanks for the hospitality!
Up until about 10pm the trip was OK, we were sailing fast and the seas were not too rough. Early on the stars were magnificent, and the biolumeniesence trailing off our stern looks like stars in the water. But then the winds got a little fluky, the seas a little bumpier, and we ran into a few squalls that blew 25 on the nose at the start, then predictably, went down to 11-12 after we moved thru them. There is no moon tonight but now the heavy overcast makes it impossible to tell the difference anyway. The swells are on the beam, mostly 6 - 8 foot, but with plenty of 10 in there to keep you awake and shake things up a bit. Oh, and did I mention...its DARK. This night sailing thing...yeah - still don't like it! But eventually dawn arrives, and shows us magnificent cloud formations and rain squalls, most miss us now, and by 7:30 ish we are anchored in pretty Deshaies. This part I like!
Sunday, April 15, 12
Saturday afternoon was nearly windless, but rainy, so we collected a good deal of rainwater for our tanks with our water catchment system. As predicted the winds picked up in the evening, and by 10pm were blowing 20. We were fine as we went to bed, but periodically thru the night both Jim and were up checking our surroundings.
Jim woke up just after 6am and as he is getting his coffee ready he discovered a boat bearing down on us! This boat layed out 2 anchors, unfortunately neither held which you could clearly see in the water dragging in front of the boat,. He grabbed the air horn and proceeded to sound and sound in an attempt to wake the occupants of the dragging vessel who were nowhere to be seen. This boat passed mere feet from our bow and Jim was convinced they would hit us. But then, by an amazing miracle, the boat shifted and passed off our starboard beam, between us and the boat anchored that direction, which is only about 60 feet away from us, hitting neither. Finally the owners wake and take control of the vessel, and they manage to steer a course around the anchored boats, without clipping any of them however they are still dragging TWO anchors in the water and the situation is critical. The owner calls for help, and since our dingy is hoisted we wave down the neighbor jumping in his dingy and Jim jumps in to go over and assist. The anchor seems to catch and the boat comes to rest just off our port. Several guys from the boats around us all step up to give assistance, and eventually they manage to unwind the two twisted anchors, and raise them both. They manage to move over to the open space just north of us, and re-anchor the boat. Shortly after, Jim is returned by his new Slovakian friend from Civetta II, and all seems well...for a while, until shortly we hear the sound of another air horn blowing!
Unfortunately, the anchor has given way again, and the loose boat is drifting quickly toward the break wall surrounding the airport...Back in the dingy for the boys, Civetta II & Fair Profit, and back they go to lend a hand. Wind Shephed joins them as well and this time they attach a second anchor to the same chain hoping the extra weight does the trick. Turns out this is a new boat for the owner, a retired charter boat with limited equipment, and their ground tackle just will not hold in these winds. After making several attempts with no success, they proceed to plan Q, and call in to one of the marinas to take a berth. The boys help move the boat over to the Marina, and get her tied up in a tight berth. Fenders and docklines deployed and finally the unfortunate sailors are tight to a dock and secure for the duration.
This was one of 3 boats in our immediate vicinity that had problems over night. Fortunately for this boat it happened in daylight. Not so for one other boat who ended up rafted to a boat on a mooring overnight when his anchor let go at 11pm. They are also re-anchoring this morning with assistance from another boat. The third ended up fouled with a long piece of chain left on the bottom, and needed two guys in a dingy to unravel the comingled chains before they could resituate themselves.
As we live this life we continually ask God for his wisdom, direction and protection. Today's experience highlights for us the clear hand of God's protection on all of us. It also reinforces the fact that these types of situations could easily happen to any one of us at any time. The fact that 4 different boats lent assistance clearly shows the sense of community that we all feel toward fellow boaters. And finally it also answers the question of "What do you do all day?" as it was near 11am when Jim returned, without much energy left to do too much else.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
After finding the electronics guys and identifing the right part to purchase, then stopping at Budget Marine to buy it, oh, and a few other items we might be needing, we are ready for the rigger. Wednesday, he was able to install our new windex in just over an hour and viola...we have speed and direction again.
St. Martin is a duty free port, so if you need IT, this is about the best place to buy IT...whatever IT is. So, we have made the rounds to the Island Water World, Budget, and Ace Hardware store, as well as the town of Marigot this week, where we found Seraphina's as wonderful as ever, and in addition to the usual array of vendors and booths we discovered a sidewalk sale on Saturday. Lee and Cindy on Tranquility, introduced us to a terrific Ice Cream / Gelato place on the lagoon called Carousel, so named for the beautiful Venitian Carousel they have. And one afternoon, after ice cream we headed over to the yacht club to watch the bridge opening. The 4:30 outbound traffic included two large sailing mega yachts, one headed to Ft. Lauderdale...which they intend to make in 5 days...WOW!
One thing I really need to learn is how to operate the dingy, so Saturday I was in charge of all our errands...Driving the dingy is actually pretty easy...what is hard is stopping, docking, trying to get back to the boat or pier without banging into it...this takes a little (or in my case, A LOT) of practice. However running wide open at 100 miles, (ok - maybe 25!) per hour is great fun!
They are predicting a wind event this Sunday, so we are all getting ready to hunker down, and weather the winds which are predicted to be up to 30 in the gusts.
Tuesday, April 10, 12
The lagoon is a busy place all day long with boats speeding around and planes taking off overhead, but at night, eventually, it calms down and is quite and peaceful. After a wonderful nights sleep we get ready to get a few chores done today. After catching the cruisers net on the radio, we get in touch with Lee & Sharon from Allegro who are here in the lagoon as well. After a brief chat they determined to stop by on there way in to shore for a visit. It was good to catch up with them since we have not seen them since Trinidad, and while they were here, Ginny & John stopped over and so were able to meet them since they knew of each other, but had never met face to face.
Now it's off to the electronics guy to find out what replacement item we need for our missing windex and then to the chandlery to buy it, and maybe a few other necessary items.
Monday, April 9, 12
Yup, wind and waves on the nose, then current, and wind picking up making this one of our least favorite crossings. We saw a few cruise ships and a freighter or two on the way, but traffic was much lighter than our trip to St. Thomas, Most likely because it is a Sunday night, and fewer cruise ships in this area.
I was able to get several hours of sleep, an hour at a time, but Jim only managed 2.5 hours since Sunday morning at six am... It is now Monday 10:40am and we arrive in
Simpson Bay and drop anchor to wait for the 11:30 bridge opening to allow us into the Lagoon. The bridge on the Dutch side of St. Martin opens 3 times a day for departures and the same for arrivals (9:30 - 11:30 and 5:30) we were hoping to arrive in time fore the 9:30...but no luck. At 11:00 the outbound traffic comes streaming out from the lagoon, and at 11:15 us, and about 15 other vessels start hauling anchors and lining up for the bridge. Imagine this...there are several vessels in the 38-50 ft range, another catamaran that is first in line, and a 125 foot sailing vessel, and a 225 foot motor yacht all maneuvering in place, trying to stand in position with the wind and current... The bridge tender announces a 15 minute notice to queue up and start preparing, as they prefer to have the bridge open for the least amount of time...and then a ten minute notice. So here we are all manuvering in place, when the bridge goes up...but the stop and go light marking the entry stays red...and then the bridge goes down! WHAT! The first boat, who is now in the channel calls the bridge tender and asks what the issue is, and we all find out that an emergency vehicle needs to pass. Good Grief...all the boats start swinging out and around to attempt to hold position, and shortly the bridge opens again, and we all line up and stream thru. Yikes!
12:00noon and we are anchored in the lagoon, and down the dinghy comes so we can clear customs here in St. Martin. What we really want to do right now is fall into bed, but rules are rules and we are required to attend to customs immediately upon entering a new country. That done, we stop for a quick bite and some free WiFi so Ginny can take care of some business, then finally, we head back to the boat to crash!
We are again anchored beneath an airport runway and find the air traffic to be quite brisk, but so interesting as jets, and prop craft take off over the boat all afternoon....fortunately this does not interfere with our naps! Tomorrow it is on to the chandleries for the parts we lost or broke and hopefully a stop at the French side of the island for Seraphinas fresh delightful bakery goods!