Saturday, June 4, 2016

St Martin = Boat Dollars

Iconic St Martin photo - planes landing so very near your head at Maho Beach
We left Antigua with our Toronto friends, Dave and Jane on their chartered boat Castillo del Sol. They were flying out of St Martin April 28 so we bid everyone else farewell and begin the voyage that would eventually bring us to St Martin. For us the last island, as it was our first island, in the E Caribbean chain. We had arrived St Martin mid-November, 2014. We would be leaving May 30, 2016.

Monkeys, beach bars, friends - ahhhh!
But lets not jump ahead too too fast. For the last couple of nights in Antigua we wanted to be somewhere quiet so we sailed around to Five Island Bay while we waited to see what the weather would do. We were hearing awful weather forecasts like 40 kt winds, slashing rain, high seas, so we were more than a little concerned. But each day came and went with mild winds, cloudy skies but no rain. We decided to risk it and just GO! What we got was a nice beam reach in about 15kt winds under cloudy skies for our Tuesday run to St Kitts. A close reach with 26kt winds under partly cloudy skies brought us to St Barths on Wednesday. On both days the seas were under 3ft and from the North which meant we were riding nicely over them. Sometimes you're just lucky! (Though ours was about to run out.) 
Dave & Jane from Toronto

We spent a night in the southern part of St Kitts and went to one of our favorite beach bars where you eat with the monkeys and while there, luckily, remembered to use up our EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollars. We then spent a few days in St Barths though only one in the high end shopping port of Gustavia. The nights in Anse de Columbia were perfect. Dinners, cocktails and laughter on one boat or the other filled our days and nights. Its important to enjoy your cruising friends when paths cross. Holding on to cruising friendships can be like holding water in your hands. What you have left are the memories. 

Soon it was time to leave St Barths and sail to St Martin. We planned one final "blow it all out dinner" in Grand Case on St Martin, the gastronomic capital of the Caribbean. Once again the restaurant Oceans' 82 didn't disappoint us.

On the sail to St Martin Wahoo decided to start acting up. A huge, loud POP indicated something was definitely wrong!!! What's up!!! Seems we'd lost one of the intermediate shrouds connecting the spreaders to the mast. Luckily, due to Whahoo's B&R rig, which has lots of redundancy, the mast stayed up long enough for us to get the sails in. Also luckily we were only about an hour out of the harbor. Once the fun of Grand Case was over and Dave and Jane were on their way back to Toronto, we turned our attention to re-rigging. 

St Martin (or SXM as the double nation island is abbreviated) is a great place to get good work done. So we started getting prices. In our exuberance we thought we could get all kinds of stuff done. Once we started looking we realized that our girl needed a good bit of tender loving care. Her bimini and dodger were held together with patches in many places, her saloon cushions were showing the 24 years of wear and well the dinghy - we'd known forever and a year that Hoo-Dat needed replacing. 

Shrimpy's Crew Quarters a St Martin fixture. He does the net each and every morning  - couldn't do without him.
As Roy worked on finding vendors to do the work I tried to figure out how we could make the budget stretch to pay for it all. St Martin/Sint Marteen holidays played havoc, sourcing parts became a headache, disappearing riggers became another issue and as the month, we had to do the work, started dwindling we realized we'd be happy if just the rigging would finally get done. 

The mast comes off and Wahoo looks naked.

 When we started it was April 29 and we felt there was all the time needed before we had to be in St Thomas to pick up Dave & Angela and their girls. But as the time started dribbling away and the winds from TS Bonnie started affecting the Caribbean (can you believe that we felt effects this far away??!) we became more and more anxious. 

Watching the planes at Maho Beach

at Lagoonies
Of course, it wasn't all work - we spent nights listening to Stella and Snugs at both Lagoonies and the Pink Iguana. Plus were able to share work anxiety with Fred and Jo from Caribbean Dream, friends from Grenada who were also in SXM with a deadline to pick up guests and major repair issues.

The mast and rigging go back up. 

All back together!
 Finally, at the last possible minute to take advantage of the last possible weather window, things started moving. As Roy worked and worked and worked one problem after another appeared that needed overcoming but he pulled through and sure enough Monday night, May 30, we bid St Martin farewell and sailed the 75NM of the Anagada Passage into North Sound on Virgin Gorda. 

What a lovely dawn! As we turned to face the wind and get the sails down the beauty of the sunrise was a joyful sight after a night of 7 - 8 ft seas coming at us on our stern. Why oh why do people wish you a "following sea"? "Fair winds", yes we all want fair winds but who in the world wants a following sea!!! 

Its always wonderful to fall into bed after a overnight crossing and North Sound is a big, beautiful place to do it. We spent a couple of quiet days enjoying just being still after the hustle and bustle of St Martin. But soon we figured it was time to venture out to one of the many watering holes around the Sound. Our first outing was lunch at a beach restaurant then a walk on the beach, maybe a swim, and a Sundowner at Saba Rock Bar.  

But these fine plans where Not To Be - as we were getting aboard Hoo Dat she just blew up!! Big hole, then when we went to raise her on the dinghy davits so Roy could do get a good look at the problem - whoops there's an issue with the davits. No dinghy - stuck on the boat  - Oh Nooooo!!!!!!!

Is she dead???
 We quickly discovered that North Sound is not the place to fix stuff so we we raised the anchor and sailed to Road Harbor on Tortola. Thankfully, in the Virgins nothing is too far away. Now we're in a marina, trying to buy a dinghy or at least fix this one. But ohhhh the AC is wonderful!!

Couldn't find one to buy - see that big patch - once again my Captain is "De Man"!!!