Published: June 1st 2011
May 31st 2011
Services in St. Maarten
St. Martin/Maarten is definitely a great place for the cruiser as they have every service you would ever need. Budget Marine is one of 2 large chandleries (marine stores) located here with water access.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 weeks in St. Martin. We traveled between the Dutch and French side, but the French side definitely had the added benefit of great wine, baguettes, cheeses and coffee (this cruising life is full of sacrifices). Our last night there we had a great get together on Happy Times with Cheryl, Mikayla and Mike . Snowbird and Unicorn were there as well so we had a great time. We each brought our own French wine and enjoyed an impromptu wine tasting which went from white wine through rose and then ended with the reds. Happy Times planned on spending the next day doing the “zip line ride” where you clip on to a line and travel through the tree tops. It was very tempting to join them, but decided we needed to continue our trek south.
We don’t want you to think that this is all play and no work. While in St. Martin we did get a few projects crossed off the list. Recently the “up” switch for our windlass (this is what we use to bring the anchor chain up) decided to “die”. We also had a problem with our navigation light on the
Tsamaya departed St. Martin through the Simpson Bay Bridge that opens 3 times per day. We made it through on their 9:30AM opening.
bow when coming across the Mona Passage (DR to Puerto Rico). We got these two fixed while at anchor as well as doing the usual day to day tasks of cooking, cleaning and shopping. We were at anchor for two weeks so we were able to monitor our energy consumption regularly. Up to this point with prevailing winds forcing us to motor sail this charged the batteries. While at anchor the solar panels and wind generator have had no difficulty keeping up with our day-to-day use of energy. Unfortunately for a significant amount of the time we were in St. Martin we had rain and clouds and not a great deal of wind. This is the worst-case scenario for us when it comes to energy. So progressively day by day the battery charge went down. The battery manufacturer states that we can draw the batteries down to 50% and not hurt them. We have a very sophisticated monitoring system that consistently tells us how are batteries are doing. Normally we keep the batteries well over 80% but with little wind, clouds and rain we were heading down to 70% and not recovering like we would normally. We have a portable
Coast Guard in St Martin
The coast guard is located just inside the lagoon next to the bridge. Bob noticed that in place of armaments it had fire hoses instead.
generator that we keep on board for just this type of situation. We did finally break down and got out the generator which not only enabled us to charge the batteries but also enabled Janice to use the sewing machine to make courtesy flags and Bob to use his power tools to sand topside teak. Balancing our energy usage is part of the daily routine. Luckily so far the system seems to be working well.
Saturday, May 28th we left St. Martin through the Simpson Bay Bridge on the Dutch side and turned the boat south toward St. Kitts. We were able to sail which was a nice change from the majority of our trip so far. The wind was 30-40 degrees off the bow so were able to travel between 6 – 7 knots for most of the trip. As we got closer to St. Kitts the wind started dying so we weren’t able to make it to the anchorage we had planned. One of the rules is to always have a backup plan. The best anchorage was farther south on the island, unfortunately we didn't get as far as we had hoped so we had to go
A view upon leaving
The view looking back as we left Simpson Bay in St. Maarten.
to plan B. As a result the decision was made to stop at Basseterre, St. Kitts. The second we put down the hook we knew why this was not a popular anchorage. Sailors call it rolling, rocking from side to side and it's extremely unpleasant. The front to back motion we normally feel is quite comfortable and you get to the point where you don't even notice it. But rolling from side to side is not what a sailboat is designed to do. It definitely did its part by getting us going early the next morning.
Plan A was to travel from St. Kitts to Antigua the next morning . Things started out well sailing to the southern point of St. Kitts. We then needed to sail through a narrow gap between St. Kitts and Nevis. Once through the gap we needed to turn and head east southeast to get to Antigua. Big surprise, the wind was dead on the nose with 4 to 6 foot swells, an extremely slow point of sail. Well, this is where plan B, or is it C came in to place. If we went to Antigua the wind would be on our nose
Our feathered friend
This is our friend, the brown booby. He kept coming back for a free ride while we on our way to St. Kitts. He at times seemed to have a hard time holding on to the moving bowsprit, but he managed OK.
(which we have extensive experience with but do not enjoy) or we could make a change and point toward Montserrat instead, a more comfortable sail and we'd be able to make it there well before dark. Frantically Janice got out the guidebooks and started reading up on Montserrat.
Flexibility is not only in where you go but how long you stay. We originally thought we would anchor for 1 night and then continue to Guadeloupe. Anchored next to us is a couple from Toronto that has the same type of boat that we have and are arranging for a tour of the island of Montserrat. A local gentleman gives the tour showing and discussing the result of the volcano. Sounds interesting so we think we're going to stay. Unfortunately the tour operator has a problem with his car and hopes to have it fixed for Tuesday. As a result, we have changed again and figured we can stick around for a couple of days. That is what this life is about.
Wildlife sightings were great these last two days. Yesterday when we were sailing a brown booby was flying around above us and then decided to take a
This fort located on Brimstone Hill on St. Kitts looked formidable. We read that it was built by the British but captured by the French in a siege where 1,000 British soldiers held out for some months against 8,000 French. Eventually a surrender was arranged.
rest on our bowsprit. He stayed there for quite a while and would then take off to fly low over the water trying to catch some of the flying fish. We seemed to be a handy perch for quite a while. We looked him up and found that they typically need a good wind to be able to take off. Apparently the bowsprit on our boat provides not only a good place to rest but also a handy takeoff point. Normally sailors and birds do not get along, but fortunately this bird was kind enough to sit tail out most of the time so he was a welcomed hitchhiker.
Another sighting was one we heard about from many other boaters but never had the pleasure of experiencing. We were having a great sail rolling gently with the waves. Far off to the starboard side of the boat we saw a couple of dolphins jumping in the water. It was as if they saw our boat and immediately turned and headed straight for us. As soon as they got to the boat, they turned and rode the bow wave for quite some time. It's times like this that we understand
Remants of Sugar Plantations
The landscape of St. Kitts is covered with the remnants of the sugar cane mills. This is one of many that we saw while sailing along the western shore of the island.
why people believe these animals are so intelligent. It was as if they saw us passing by and immediately determined that it would be fun to come over and ride our bow wave. After a few minutes they got tired of it and took off for other adventures. It's hard to imagine we are in the middle of the ocean with no land in view and all of a sudden a pod of dolphin decides to come over and ride the bow wave of your boat. Even though we have seen dolphins before, this will be one of those events that touched us and will never be forgotten. We got a very good video clip of this and will post it as soon as we can figure out how to.
Tomorrow, June 1st we plan to leave Montserrat and head for Guadeloupe. We have spent 2 great days exploring this island and have had a lot to absorb. We will report back on our travels around this fascinating island in our next blog.
There are more photos below