Sunday, February 10, 2013

St. Martin / St Maarten January 2013

St. Maarten / St. Martin January 2013
Thursday 27 December - Thursday 31 January
We remain at the marina through the weekend getting a few more things done in between the holidays. One of the zippers connecting the dodger (front “windshield”) to the bimini (cockpit overhead sunshade) broke. We got that down and into the sail loft Thursday morning so we could get it back the following day. A laundry is located just a short distance from the dock, so we drop off a couple of loads to get done while we are close by. Our water maker part that we have been waiting on comes in and Steve gets it installed BUT it still does not work. I make a trip over to Business Point, a cruiser friendly business that helps with internet, phones and mailing out and receiving mail and packages. I discovered one day when I went to use my ATM card that it had expired in November. Called the company about getting a new one, but since I was having it sent out of the country and not my US address, I had to have my brokerage account authorize it to be sent to me here in St. Maarten. Just one of those little things that turns into a big thing when you have a traveling home. Friday Dougie from Electec comes over to help Steve with the new water maker pump. They work on that all afternoon taking it to the shop to test it and by 5:30 decided that in addition to the pump we now also need a new capacitor board, and it has to be ordered. Which will have to be done Monday before the New Years holiday. It is a full moon night and the Brazilian boat on the dock is having a big BBQ party that we go by, one of the guys just flew back and said he bought the meat back with him, not sure if he did but it was the best tasting steak we have had. By advertising in Portuguese and word of mouth this marina has become very popular with the Brazilians. Saturday morning Electec comes back out to try something else with the water maker with no luck. Several boats are moved around in the marina, one rafted up to another going out to anchor and us staying longer another boat on T head needing to make room for another coming back. It's kind of like a self serve marina, with Bernard there part time checking on things and letting us know you might have to move if & when this boat comes back. Saturday afternoon we go by IWW & Budget Marine looking for a dorade, that somewhere along our travels the genoa sheet line must have got caught on it and ripped off. We wanted to get one to match the other 3 that are chrome plated brass but IWW wants $600 for one & Budget over a $1000 which is just crazy overpriced. Stopped by 2 boat re-sale shops just on the chance they might have one but no luck. So we can order 4 plastic PVC ones for $400 so that is what we are doing, meantime we move one of the back ones up front so it looks nicer. Out to dinner with Jan & Larry from Sea Bear at an Asian fusion restaurant called Satara, not as good as the Thai place but 2nd in line. It is right on the “main drag” of Simpson Bay but the landscaping hides the street and it is a lovely outdoor dining setting. Sunday things are closed so we have a slow day with no errands. Steve does routine maintenance on the windlass and we dine on board. Monday an early morning wash-down of the decks and filling of the water tanks before we check out of the marina. Another boat is due back and instead of moving to another spot we go out to anchor. Glad to be away from the dock but we don't go far as we still need to be close to the marine stores for a few more days. There is a little room to anchor out in front of IWW not the best place to anchor but can pick up IWW's wifi signal and it is just for a few days. George & Jan on Wild Thing flew back in the night before, but when we hear George on the VHF radio in the morning we can tell he is not feeling well. We talk to them later an confirm that he has arrived back in St Maarten with a bad case of the flu. It is New Years Eve and we had made plans to meet Jan & Larry & Benita & Rick from Lima at the yacht club for a drink before deciding on a place for dinner. Many of the restaurants are having preset menus that were to expensive so we wound up back at Satara and have another good meal while listening to some good live music at a level where you can still have conversations with people at your table. We leave at 11:30, Rick & Benita to go back to their boat to be with their dog when the fireworks start, while Steve & I & Jan & Larry go to the beach to watch the fireworks to bring in 2013. Tuesday we slept in then took a dinghy ride to check the depths along the route to the area we will move the boat to re-anchor at then over to the yacht club to watch some of the mega yachts returning. Most of the marinas emptied out during the week between Christmas & New Year with everyone going over to St Barts for the holiday so it was fun watching them start to come back in. Wednesday we had trouble with 2 of the hatches so first thing Steve went into Maintec to talk to Dave. He came right out to see the problem then went and re cut 2 new pieces and got Robbie to re do them. We did not have to use any liquid solution so even though it was still very windy and black pieces of adhesive were going everywhere they were dry and easier to vacuum up if they missed the garbage bag or didn't blow away. Thursday Steve finished putting the hinges & handles on the hatches, over to the little store across from Lagoonies for cokes & diet cokes. Anchor up at 1 and over to the French side of the lagoon to re-anchor in an area called Baie Nettle Lagoon. Have lunch in the cockpit enjoying the breeze with a much nicer view. A few people we met at the cruisers get together on boxing day (12/26) had told us how nice it is over in this area, and we had checked out the water depths. It is a much nicer anchorage then anywhere else in the lagoon BUT it is a long dinghy ride from everything also. Glad we have a bigger faster dinghy but you plan your trips to the store a little better from here than when you're just right next to something. We go over to the Cupecoy marina area about another mile west from our anchorage for dinner that night. Friday starts as a cloudy cool day, temperatures in the mornings & evenings can get down to 75°, which to me now is sweater weather. Once the sun breaks through the morning rain clouds it warms up nicely and most days we have temps around 85°. We go over to a nearby little dinghy dock, you can also beach the dinghy along the shore but we prefer locking it at the dock to hauling it up onto the beach. A walk around the area to see what is around, a little gourmet grocery store, two beach restaurants on the ocean side - Layla's & Boucaniers & a boulangerie = french bakery. Several resident inn / condo type places and a laundromat that we thought might be self serve, but it wasn't. Not a lot compared to the Simpson bay / Cole Bay areas but as I mentioned a lot nicer anchorage. Later we go the 3 miles over to Budget marine store then stop at Barnacles for a few drinks with some other boaters before coming back to the boat for the evening. Saturday 1/5 Steve went into a monthly boaters swap meet at Time Out Boat Yard in the morning to see if anyone had any thing he might need. These are very hit & miss sometimes you can come across good stuff sometimes not. That night we go back to the Thai restaurant with Jan & George since George is finally feeling better. Sunday the clouds hung around all day with a few showers during the day and then rain all night, a good day to just hang out on the boat. Monday it cleared up back to a beautiful day but winds are still strong and seas are high so we are glad to stay put in the lagoon. We meet Jan & George at the yacht club for the 5:30 bridge opening then go to Jimbos for dinner where I drank a huge margarita with dinner. Tuesday I am hung over from that huge margarita but manage to help Steve get things out of the forpeak since our water maker part has arrived and Dougie from Electec is coming out to help Steve put it in. They get it up and running, woo-hoo, but also try to fix a little leak and make it worse, boo, so 2 new parts need to be ordered. We could make water if needed, the leak just goes into the bilge but a little messy so we will hold off since we still have plenty of water. Wednesday Jan & Dana & I take the bus into Philipsburg for a ladies day out to shop w/o the guys and have a fun day. We get back to the marina where Blue Star (Jan & George's new boat) is just before 5. We call Steve & Wayne and tell them we will go with Jan & George in their dinghy to meet them at Barnacles for HH . After HH Jan & George and Steve & I go next door to Curry in a Hurry for dinner. Friday Steve & I go over to Cupecoy marina for lunch before going over to the beach for a swim. It has been a while since we have been swimming and we needed to get in the salt water, it felt great! Later that night Madeline & Skip from Saralane stopped by for drinks and to visit. Saturday we went over to Blue Star for happy hour with David & Margaret from Highland Fling . Sunday Steve & I go over to Layla's for lunch and for Steve to use their wifi, we had been getting a free signal over here from the Flamingo resident inn. But for some reason they changed it to be pass word protected. Maybe they had only 10 rooms booked and saw they had 30 log on to their server so decided to add a password ? It was nice while it lasted. After lunch and a nice walk on the beach we rode around this section of the lagoon enjoying a beautiful day on the water. Monday on the cruisers net someone had some maps of Panama so Steve went to see him to get them. Time for laundry again so we dropped it off at Shrimpy's near the French bridge then went into Marigot to do a little shopping, Steve had 3 things he needed to get on the French side and found all 3. We had a nice lunch then I needed to go back to Philipsburg to pick something up so I called Jan and she wanted to go also so George ran her over to Marigot and we caught the bus. On the way back Jan got dropped off at the marina and I went back to Marigot where Steve came into pick me up stopping at Shrimpy's to pick up the laundry. Tuesday afternoon we had a ladies Mexican train dominoes game over at Lagoonies and Steve brought his computer in to get the internet connection. Went by the yacht club for the 5:30 bridge opening to get a picture of Blue Star coming back in after going out for a day sail to try to learn their new boat. Back to our boat before it got dark since we did not have flashlights, and a nice warm stew for dinner. Wednesday morning, still have no internet on the boat so we go over to the French bakery to use their internet which from what we were told is usually okay. But today the signal kept dropping off so we went over to Business Point to use theirs. This is a pay service but I needed to make a Skype call to see where my debit card that was supposed to be sent FedEx to me 2 weeks ago was and get my emails. Thursday the sun tried to come out a few times but it stayed mostly cloudy all day, we went over to Blue Star to use their internet. They had rented a modem from Business Point (last one) that lets you get an internet connection through a cell phone connection. Several people we know have talked about these and they seem to work great. Friday a beautiful sunny day, we go in to run errands and go to grocery store. We talked with Jan & George about getting out of the lagoon and doing a little side trip somewhere. We have been wanting to do this for a while BUT wind and wave action as well as boat projects kept us inside the lagoon. Since we had ordered 2 new parts for the water maker we had not secured it back in place and had not put everything back in place so we really did not want to do an open water passage with things loose in the bow. George & Jan come out to Ocean Star for dinner, and we tell them we can't leave Saturday and delay our plans until Sunday. Our water maker parts are in and Dougie comes out Saturday to finish the repairs and we get it all back together by 3:30. Steve runs over to customs to check us out so we can catch the morning bridge opening to head over to St Barts for a few days. Sunday 1/20 we go out the 9 am bridge opening on the Dutch side, once again hoping they can't see our boat name and don't try to come collect their bridge fee. The Dutch charge a fee every time you go in & out of the bridge on their side, but since we are checked in on the French side we will never see the Dutch customs people to get charged, IF we ever do check in on the Dutch side they could hit us with a bridge bill. They always have a lot of boats going in and out and and with our dinghy hauled up our boat name is hard to see so it's worth the chance. We have a good sail over to St. Barts, sailing to wind a little off course with reefed main & genoa tacking twice to get us to Gustavia the main town on St Barts. Many boats come over to St Barts and anchor off Colombier or Ile Fourchue for a few days W/O checking in then go over to Gustavia and check in & out for 1 day as St Barts charges by the day. We are anchored right behind Blue Star off Gustavia by 1:30, a quick wash down of dodger & stainless to get the salt off and have lunch before going in to check in. Jan & George had not been here and wanted to see the town, so we walk around town after checking in being Sunday most of the shops are closed, Steve & George are happy, we check out several restaurant menus for dinner later. Back to the boats to clean up and then back to town for dinner. Monday we go in and rent a car for the 4 of us to drive around the island. George being a pilot and St Barts airport being known for its SCARY landings we stop by there and watch a few planes land & take off. See the video !! I have no problems with flying but like many, take off & landings are always a little tense but landing at St Barts in one of those little planes would be very tense especially from a front seat!! Continue with our island tour stopping in Baie St Jean for lunch at Nikki Beach restaurant a lovely setting on a lovely beach. We make several more stops along the beautiful island enjoying the views. Back to the boats just after 5 for a quick departure to go over to Colombier, where there are no swells and another friend on Highland Fling is anchored. By 6 we are moored in Colombier and Margaret & David on Highland Fling join us on Blue Star for HH. Tuesday Blue Star has to go back to St Martin, but we stay and enjoy the day swimming and hiking. Wednesday we head back to St Martin leaving by 9 with a nice downwind sail. A rain storm catches up to us and gives the boat & sails a good rinse, it clears by the time we are sailing past Philipsburg. It has turned out to be a lovely day so we keep sailing past Simpson bay to go around to Marigot bay and anchor by 1 waiting for the 2:30 bridge opening. The French bridge opening is NOT as organized as the Dutch side with different times for inbound & outbound traffic. When they open out bound traffic comes out first then inbound traffic goes in BUT the bridge tender does not monitor the radio. I was trying to hail the bridge tender or any out bound boats on channel 16 to see if there were any boats coming out, we could not see any waiting in the channel. Two small powerboats zip in when the bridge opens and we are making our way in trying to see if anyone is coming out. Still don't see anyone and still no one talking to us on the radio so we start into the channel to the bridge when an outbound boat starts to come out. Just enough room for us to inch over as he comes out so he can pass, then we start to go through and another boat comes around the bend to go out, we can not back up so just go through he has plenty of room on the inside to get past us just gives us a funny look. We shrug and said we tried to call on the radio to see if anyone was coming out, then still another one comes hurrying up to go out, they all should have been lined up in the channel to be ready to go out and so inbound traffic could see them. They really need to have someone on channel 16 like the book says to let you know when it is safe to come in. We get re-anchored back where we were, Steve goes over to Marigot to check us back in. We go over to Blue Star for dinner as Jan & George will be going back to Texas for 2 weeks the following day. Jan wants to use up as much of their fresh food before they leave, we still come away with several things that would go bad if left on board plus the WiFi modem that they had been renting. We will take over their payments the 2 weeks they are away to have WiFi access on our boat again. Thursday we run a bunch of errands stopping at Ace, Budget, Electec, FKG, Business Point, & Grand Marche to name a few. We have a quiet and slow weekend, Sunday night we get a call on the VHF radio that Ultra has arrived !! JoAnne & Bill are anchored out in the bay and will be coming in through the bridge Monday morning. We tell them where we are anchored and by 10 they anchor near by. We are so happy to see them again after almost 3 months since Grenada. After they get settled we go over for hugs and kisses and bloody mary's for a real welcome and start catching up. We go back to our boat to change with plans to go into Marigot for lunch and for Bill & JoAnne to check in. A nice afternoon “in town” then dinner on Ocean Star. Tuesday we hear of another friend from Grenada has also arrived Sunny & John on Notre Vie, while out in the dinghy we see them anchored on the Dutch side and stop by to say hello. Several boats that we knew in Grenada are now starting to arrive so we decide to announce it on the cruisers net the following morning of a “Grenada reunion” one at Barnacles on Wednesday then another at the Yacht Club on Friday to get a chance to say Hi to everyone again. It is always fun to reconnect with people we have met along they way, as well as meeting new people all of whom we never know if & when we will meet again. Hard to believe another month has gone by !! January weather was great inside the lagoon with mostly sunny days lows of 75, & highs 85. Plenty of rain showers but most short lived only a few days that were gray all day. Seas not so great for traveling to other islands or anchorages but we enjoyed the time here in St Martin/ St Maarten AKA the land of plenty as it is a great place to provision, get parts and to get boat work done. Time to make plans to move on SOON !!  
FYI Sunday Feb. 10 getting ready to leave St Martin tonight for overnight passage to BVI's   


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