Continuing North and a little bit West - this time.......
andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Fri 4 Apr 2014 18:02
Now it’s time to start making sure we are prepared for ARC Europe, getting ourselves ready in terms of safety, provisioning and of course mentally. We will be two up for this trip so it’s going to be a little tougher than the crossing west in 2010. We did several long passages two up before we left on the ARC, so we should be ok, but the conditions will be different in terms of the weather and sea, therefore we will be taking all the advice we can get. Of course it will be getting colder not warmer as well, however the days should get longer as we travel north and that will be a bonus after the 12- 12 ½ hour days we have out here all year round.
We enjoyed our few days in Jolly Harbour, visiting the chandlers, the wonderful Epicurean (though no pork pies or proper back bacon to be had this time – outrageous or what, but the sausages were great!) and we patronised the new Greek restaurant located in the marina complex. Wow, we have not had such good hummus and tzaziki since we were last in Greece. It was really wonderful and worth a visit if you happen to be in Jolly Harbour! We caught up with various folk in the marina, Jeanie from Island Time and Patti and Gary from Native Dancer and enjoyed a Sunday afternoon game of...yes, you guessed it, Mexican Train Dominoes. We managed to fit in one trip to the gorgeous beach about a 15 minute walk away and Susan enjoyed a brief dip in the water before we headed back to get on with various chores.
Our intention was to sail our next passage overnight so on Tuesday 18th March we treated ourselves to lunch in the Greek Restaurant and full of pork and mint burgers (yum!) we headed off towards St Bart’s and St. Maarten late in the afternoon. Conditions were good to start with, but with a wind shift, we dropped the main and continued under genoa and mizzen. The wind was good and the sail plan was good, but the swell was horrible. Essentially we cork-screwed the whole way, just under 100 miles, the swell being on the starboard quarter – not what was forecast it must be said and not our best sail by any means, hard on the muscles and the spirit! Passing St. Bart’s at dawn we decided to press on to St. Maarten to get the alternator and auto-pilot sorted and were rewarded by a small pod of dolphins swimming alongside for a while as we approached the island – that was brilliant.
Heading towards the cut to take the 11:30am bridge lift into the Dutch side, we were hailed by a huge “gin palace” who asked us to make sure we went straight ahead and not dawdle, as they needed lots of room to have enough way on to go through the bridge – well I said, you’ll just have to be patient as I don’t have a lot of room either and we don’t go very fast under motor – the cheek of it. Anyway we made it through without being run down by the big beastie and tied up in Simpson Bay Marina with another warm and friendly welcome. We were staying in the marina as Electec, the best electrical guys on the island, don’t visit anchored yachts, and any Raymarine autopilot installation recommends being securely alongside!
Andrew cleared us in with the authorities whilst Susan put Andromeda to rights before we had a little siesta waking up in time to hear a knock on the hull. It was Steve and Ann from Receta, they had heard us talking to the marina on the radio and came over to say Hi. It was so great to see them and we arranged to meet up later in the week.
An early meal was followed by an early bedtime too, then bright and breezy on Thursday morning we went to talk with Bert at Electec, to be informed that it would be early the following week for the alternator fix. Checking with Budget Marine about the cabling for the auto-pilot replacement we were sent to Atlantis Marine – they were closed. Friday we managed to catch up with them, and none too helpful they were too, so back to Budget we headed to order a unit. There we got the news that it would be another week or two or so before they had a delivery, however we could go and check on Tuesday. Getting on with a few bits and pieces we waited for Tuesday and returned only to be told by someone different ‘Ah, if you want one quickly we can get it Fedexed in 3 days’. Great, let’s do that as we are on a tight schedule. 5 hours later the phone rang – ‘Ah, it might be a week or two before we can get one, Raymarine have them on back order’. Ho hum. Such is cruising.
Just in case they had any units in stock we checked with other Budget Marine stores in the US and British Virgin Islands, but the costs were significantly greater than the quote we had in St. Maarten, so we decided to wait patiently.
Meanwhile the alternator had been tested, removed and returned with new rectifiers and was working! Hurrah! Thank you Brian, though it did take quite a few hours to re-install.
In the meantime we met up with lots of different boaty folk. Chris and Sharon on Quicksilver came over from Marigot Bay (the French side) and we had a nice lunch (twice), Barb and Chuck on Tusen Tak II, popped by and left a wonderful orange necklace for Susan– a really kind thought and it goes so nicely with lots of her outfits. Nancy and Dave from Fawkes spent Friday afternoon aboard and we caught up with Trini and cruising news. Saturday lfternoon we had a game of Mexican Train Dominoes at Lagoonies with Robyn from Heidi, Taryna from Heymede, and some other cruisers we hadn’t met before. Later we had a really, really great evening with Steve and Ann (Receta) at the local yacht club – the tapas style snacks were wonderful as was the company. A similar sense of humour and great stories were shared with much laughter. Steve had the script printed out to the ‘Life of Brian’, though Ann thought she may have thrown it out earlier this year, Steve however is sure he saved it from the discard pile! Great fun.
And as we are in St. Maarten, and it’s all duty free, the chandlers were stormed again and again as we sourced replacement flares and man overboard kit, (both ARC Europe requirements,) winch handle pockets, a couple of new dock-lines, a replacement bilge pump, a new Rocna anchor (yes, we have succumbed and Budget Marine gave us a mini one that doubles as a bottle opener-very handy and a good talking point!), oil for the engine and a wifi booster. Reliance and availability of wifi is becoming a real need in order to both stay in touch, through e-mail and Face Book, and also get anything done in terms of ordering kit, arranging engineers, etc. etc. not forgetting trying to keep track of funds. So we have a Bad Boy unit – and our very own hot spot and very good it is too! (PS Nick, Chris, Phill and Jen – it was a Mother’s day gift, Dad will be seeing you later)
Friday afternoon we got a surprise call from Budget to say that the auto-pilot had arrived! And only four days after ordering it! Amazing – they did have one in stock after all!
Saturday morning after much studying of the manuals (yes we do read them sometimes) Andrew started the work to replace the defunct autopilot. Installing the major units and cabling took all morning followed by a break with a trip to Lagoonies for dominoes – it’s hot down below!
Ginny from Wind Shepherd was at the game this time and it was great to catch up with her, she also gave us some useful tips on where to go in the US Virgin Islands. The big surprise of the afternoon though was Susan’s score 180 – not quite the record (69) achieved by Maggie from Jezebel in Trinidad but Susan did score 0 on the last 6 rounds........
After the game we went to meet Lee and Sharon from Allegro before they headed off south to Antigua and Classic week, where they help out each year - moving yachts about and serving at the bars and parties. They had just arrived from the US Virgin Islands as well so we were keen to get updates on places to go and see. Lee was a font of really useful information concerning St. Thomas and St. Johns, provisioning, fuel etc. Lee and Sharon had also arranged to meet other friends of theirs for dinner after our drinks and they turned up at the Yacht Club and joined us. After introductions – Steve and Maria (Aspen) - noticed Andrew’s Andromeda polo shirt and commented that they knew some people from the Midlands who had a boat called Andromeda. That turned out to be Sandy and Dave (Andromeda’s previous owners) who they met in Trinidad 2005/6 during Andromeda’s first trip to the Caribbean. Not only that they were also on the Blue Water Rally 2009/2010/2011 and are great friends of Glenda and Ian from Lucy Alice – amazing! A very nice couple of hours indeed exchanging stories.
Anyway, back to the autopilot – Sunday morning after further checks etc Andrew switched it on and it worked; well, all the shore side checks are fine, so it’s now down to our first trip at sea with the new unit – it looks very nice, though. Sunday was also Mother’s Day in the UK and Susan had a great time skyping with the family, the little ones are growing up so fast now.
Sunday afternoon whilst relaxing in the cockpit we noticed a large aluminium yacht with a Maltese flag approaching the marina. It was Patricia and Patrick from Rhi Malti, who had just come up from St. Bart’s where their boat designer was racing – we do know some interesting folks! Rhi Malti is a custom designed, aluminium 50+ft yacht built some three years ago. Anyway, they came here because Patricia has to return to Europe for family reasons, but we hosted them for sun-downers and nibbles – a nice evening under sad circumstances, with the gin bottle taking a significant hit.
Monday (31st) morning arrived and Chris and Sharon hailed us on the radio and we arranged to go into Philipsburg for the day. We managed to pick a very good day, the weather was fab, there were no cruise liners in, (there were 5 due in the next day) so the beaches and streets were empty. It was very pleasant to wander around the shops, stopping to have elevenses and lunch before heading off to the equivalent of Price Smart/CostCo and then Grande Marche for some shopping, where a few bargains were picked up.
Tuesday we met Chris and Sharon again and after another lovely lunch took a bus down to Maho beach, where as you will see from some of the photos, you get a very close view of planes landing and taking off. It was quite busy as well because of those cruise liners. We walked down to Mullet Beach, an altogether much quieter place by the golf club though sitting on the chairs in the sand was interesting.
So with about 4 or so weeks to go before the start of ARC Europe we are getting ourselves sorted; well, we plan to. In the next couple of days we shall do a bit of provisioning and should head out to sea on Friday. Today (Thursday) we went on the bus to the big Grande Marche and filled our bags with some treats and essentials. We were with Chris and Sharon again and Chris spotted a nice little restaurant nearby – Mark’s Place – where we had a really superb meal. Susan, Andrew and Chris opted for the Norwegian smoked salmon salad which was so big but presented so beautifully, each of our plates decorated differently – Susan thought hers was the best as her salmon was styled into roses. The meal tasted as good as it looked and set us up for the rest of the day. Tomorrow there will be the last foray to the chandlers as we now know things will be much more expensive in the Virgins and then it will be getting ready for sea again, all that stuff we have managed to get out will now have to be stowed back in its proper home ready for the trip.
We hope to enjoy a little of the Virgin Islands on our way north and west.......and then on to Bermuda and points east.............
More in due course......
ps WE have just heard that there is a cocktail at Crews Inn in TRinidad now called Andromeda - when it is mixed it turns bright orange- we shall be tracking down more details.
PPS And that last foray to the chandlers resulted in us liberating two newly arrived cockpit seaats.....check out the colour.
Photos with blog from Antigua,St. Maarten in other post. Click on any photos that appear on their side and they will reorient the right way up, use back arrow to go back to the others.
Andrew and Susan
Andromeda of Plymouth
St. Maarten/Sint Martin