Blog update 5th March 2012

Brian & Loretto Linehan
Mon 5 Mar 2012 16:46
Hi all,

Yes we are back - and no my blog updates have not improved in their
frequency but I will say quality and quantity will be as good as ever.

Myself and the kids arrived back on 14th January - Brian had travelled
over the previous week to arrange for the boat to be back in the water
when we arrived. We are now back to work. To get the boat ready for her
trip across the Atlantic in May where she will become acquainted with a
yacht broker in the UK and subsequently a new owner. But it is good to be
here - weather aside we all love being on the boat as she really is a good

Our arrival back was not all good unfortunately. Prior to leaving Antigua
in May we had entrusted a man, Jason, who was recommended by the yard
manager, to look after the boat for us and to do a few jobs. We
subsequently found out that the yard manager had been fired - apparently
he was "on the take" and no doubt Jason had given him a backhander for
getting the work with us as it turned out that Jason knew little or
nothing about boats at all. The first and most major problem was that he
fried our year-old top of the range batteries - 12 in all which were of no
use at all when we arrived back. So we were facing a hefty bill to
replace all these - even if only one had gone they would all have to be
replaced (any questions on power supply on boats ask Brian). We also
asked Jason to paint the ceiling of the interior of the boat as it was
looking tired and needed jazzing up. Well - Jack could have done a better
job - crappy job with more paint on the doors, walls and floor than on
some of the places he said he painted. We got him to redo some areas but
it was hopeless (and soul destroying). The job will have to be done when
we get back to Ireland/UK prior to the broker seeing her. And the floors
may have to be revarnished too I think if the paint does not come off
properly. All in all getting work done in Antigua was a bad experience
for us = the advice we would give is not to get work done unless you or
another person you trust to do the job, ie another yachtie, can supervise
otherwise it will not be done well nor on time.

But I can say that the yard itself was good, especially the guys working
the boat lift - good at their job and in good humour all the time. The
ten days we spent in Antigua if you leave out the tearing out of hair and
depression that set in when we talked about painting or batteries were
good. The best bits were meeting our new friends - Roger and Jane on
"Serena 55" and Alex and John on "Free Spirit".

Roger and Jane had met Brian when he arrived first as their boat was also
out in Jolly Harbour for the hurricane season. We spent a few really
enjoyable nights socialising on our boat or theirs. They are Welsh and
English respectively and have lived in Canada for the past forty years or
so. Retired, they spend their time sailing in the Caribbean for part of
the year and the rest back home in Canada. Alex and John have been partly
cruising and partly working for the past ten years. They firstly cruised
the Med and had just crossed the Atlantic when we met them.

We moved to St Martin at the end of January. We spent the first ten days
at anchor in Simpson Bay - nice but it got really, really rolly - imagine
living on a constant see-saw - the boat was rolling left, right, left,
right constantly. We partly sorted out the batteries but had to move into
the Simpson Bay Lagoon to get more work done as it was too rolly to do
anything outside in the Bay. So the excitement of going through the
Bridge lay ahead. We had spent many a "happy hour" in the Simpson Bay
Yacht club watching the small/medium sized yachts and then the mega yachts
squeeze through the entrance to the Lagoon under the lifting bridge and
now it was to be our turn. Pictures are on flickr for those interested!

Anchoring just inside we proceeded to get more work done on the boat -
batteries, electrics, main mast motor for the furling main sail - all had
to be organised, parts ordered and waited on and then fully installed. We
spent the first week and a half in the Dutch side and then moved to the
French side of the Lagoon on 17th February.

We met many new friends as well as reacquainting ourselves with Roger,
Jane, Alex and John who had also travelled up from Antigua and anchored in
the Lagoon. New friends are:
"Inchebane" - Janine, Peter and Christopher (their son - Jack's age).
Janine and family live and work in St Martin and Janine organised
children's activities for cruising families via the Cruisers Net which is
on the VHF every morning at 0730hrs hosted by Mike who owns Shrimpys (a
wi-fi cafe and laundry). Jack and Christopher hit it off straight away -
two peas in a pod and with minds definitely on the same track
mischief-wise. Jack spent time on their boat and visited the beach a few
times with Janine and Christopher spent time on our boat playing lego etc.

"Express Crusader" - Cecelia & Saga and their children Ines, Martin and
Tomas. Cecelia and Saga are Argentinian and spent a number of years in
Spain where their children were born. Both of them work professionally on
mega yachts - Cecelia as chef and Saga as captain. "Express Crusader" is
a classic yacht - it was originally owned by Naomi James and she completed
her circumnavigation in it. It is an absolutely beautiful boat the
interior of which they remodeled somewhat in order to make it more
suitable for family cruising. The children are 7, 6 and 3 yrs - perfect
for Jack. And again they had a brilliant time together despite the
language difference - Jack has no spanish and they have a little English.
They played on both boats alternatively. The children are so nice - good,
quietly mischievous and full of laughter. Altogether Jack had a brilliant
time in St Martin - never short of a friend to play with.

"Compass Rose" - Gail and Tom and their children - Emma (15yrs) and Clara
(12yrs). Obviously this boat suited the girls better. They met up
several times - doing the activities organised by Janine. The best
morning was spend learning how to sail small laser type boats which are
owned by the Simpson Bay Yacht Club. A local yacht chandlry - Island
Water World sponsored the training which was provided by the yacht club.
Gail and Tom and family are just starting their adventure having purchased
the boat in the BVI's, sailing her to St Martin to get work done and then
hope to spend the next two years sailing the Caribbean in the winter and
then the East Coast of the States in the summer.

"Relaxo Rancho of the Seas" - David (Austrian), Guillermina (Argentinian)
and their children Bruno and Viola. They had met up with Express Crusader
in the Canaries prior to crossing the Atlantic and having sailing from
Northern Germany they were spending the foreseeable future sailing,
possibly around the world. We only met up with them once - at the party we
organised for Ciara's 12th birthday.

Yes the party - 22 people on the boat for burgers, hot dogs and beer and
of course birthday cake. A very impromptu but enjoyable night. And our
new friends were very generous with their presents for Ciara - books,
bags, shoes. It's the first party we have had on board since leaving our
friends Starbound, Indulgence and Rhythm in the BVI's in December 2010.
Pictures again on flickr.

Two other friend who did not make the party were:
"Rosita" - Charles and Penny whom we met last year in Grenada and
Dominica. They arrived in St Martin about the same time as we did. We
met up with them a few times mainly trying to get a bar/restaurant to
watch the six nations rugby. Unfortunately our quest to watch the rugby
was not successful. Charles and Penny dined with us on Asteroid before
they left to go back down-island and we hope to meet up with them again at
some stage. They are also planning to cross the Atlantic in May so
hopefully we will see them again either side of the pond.

"Samantha" - Jane, Owen (apologies for not spelling your name right - not
sure of the Dutch spelling so am sticking with the safe English one) and
their children Isabel and Sophia (10yrs and 8Yrs). Jane is English and
Owen - Dutch, and they arrived in St Martin having crossed the Atlantic
from Portugal where they were living. They are spending some time in St
Martin where Owen is going to work for a while. We only met them the week
before we left but hopefully will see them again in April when we return
to St Martin.

So where are we now - well we finally got out of St Martin on 2nd March.
Five week's in the one place - the most we have spent since leaving the
Virgin Islands. We went through the bridge again and headed for St Barts
and then after a really, really uncomfortable 19hour night crossing we
arrived in Deshaies at the top of Guadeloupe. Poor Brian had to do the
whole crossing practically himself as the children retired almost
immediately to bed and I was struck, as usual, with mal de mer. In my
defence I did try to stand a watch but I think could only manage an hour
overall. Brian was brilliant - a true captain keeping us all safe and
sound while we slept. And then he slept - or tried to as unfortunately in
Deshaies from the time we arrived there has been a wind funnelling down
through the gap in the surrounding mountains with gusts of up to 45 knots!
So we have not had the chance to explore ashore as we do not want to
leave the boat just in case it drags. And we should really wait before
moving from here as the wind and swell outside are not condusive to a good
passage. But hopefully this weather will end soon and normal nice winds
return. The weather has been really different this year - much more winds
and squalls. No sign of the nice cruising weather we had last year. But
we will continue to make the best of it and see as much as we can before
leaving in May.

We are also really looking forward to welcoming Tommy, Caroline and
Braeden who are joining us for ten days or so in April.

I will post this up now (before the internet goes on me again). Talk to
you soon and don't foreget to keep in touch and see us on