Sunday 6 January 2008 - Still in St Maarten
Tuesday January 1 2008
Happy New Year
New Years Eve consisted of a good meal, followed by an hour in the casino feeding the slots – who ate well; and then onto Perseverance in the Lagoon to watch up to six firework displays on various beaches.
So this is the brand new 2008, no obvious difference to 2007 – still sunny, still windy, still trying to get more stuff into the same spaces.
I did manage to get the netting on one more section of guardrail, that makes two down and four to go. It used to be ten sections, but the side dodgers have taken care of two and I am not going to cover the pulpit sections.
It was still too windy to scrub the waterline, I gave up yesterday and am waiting for the promised drop to 5 knots of wind before I try again.
I suppose I should have started the New Year by going in the water, but there are still another 364 days to go.
John and Shirley have come back to join their boat, Grover, which they left over on the French side; I look forward to catching up with them in the next few days.
Wednesday January 2
I had to go ashore, but it was so windy that I had to stay and run the watermaker to get the batteries down to 95%, then I could leave them to recharge while I was out.
It was a very scary, wet trip in the dinghy; I could go into the lagoon to make my life easier, but it does not attract me and it is still choppy in there.
I went to the new branch of a big hardware store. I took a long time looking round and found a pair of hinges that I need. Then I discovered there was an upstairs; mostly home furnishings, but they had an outdoor section and I found some swim noodles. They had the normal round tubular ones and some ridged ones, they all had holes through the centre; just what I needed. I bought two yellow round ones and two blue ridged ones; they are as tall as I am, so that put an end to the shopping.
I nearly got back to the dinghy when I remembered what I had gone in for. I had to give my details to the electronic repair firm that had my autopilots, Gui had not had time to check them out yet. It was 2pm by the time I got back to the boat.
The hinges were for the forecabin door, I was going to change the way it opened. Currently I have lift off hinges, which when turned the other way become fall off hinges. The task of fitting the new hinges was not the 10 minute job I had hoped, but eventully the door was on and it now opens flat against the wall; which gives me the full area of the room; every little helps.
It is amazing just how many things PVC tubing can be used for, Broom, net, boat hook and danbuoy holders; tiller extension handle for the outboard, boat cover and awning supports I have even seen it used sometimes for plumbing.
I had put thin pipes round the solar panel to protect it when I stow the dinghy on top of it. I put the pipes into the centre of the noodle, I chose the ridged ones, perfect fit, perfect length; and this should give both the solar panel and the dinghy a more comfy life.
Thursday January 3
Today there was no wind, time to scrub the waterline. I got into my wetsuit and donned my mask and snorkel, put a line round my waist and attached 2 suction handles, a scrubbing brush, a scraper and the rope to the dinghy. Then I got in, the dinghy, not the water. I soon realised that the mask and snorkel was a bit unnecessary and actually obstructive, so I took that off. I pulled myself along the boat with the suction handles and scrubbed the waterline. There was still a current and passing jet skis, dinghies, motor boats and the odd airplane all caused a wash that sent me banging into the hull, but I did it and very pleased I am with the result. By the time I was nearing the end I was enjoying myself, probably because I was nearing the end. I shall definitely be making the antifoul come up that bit further next time.
I put the mask and snorkel back on, got in the water and went to check my anchor; it has been fine for the last two weeks of windy weather and it looks really well in, but it is good to know exactly where it is with all the boats anchoring around me.
I finished the final section of the netting on the port side and put the furling line back on. I have replaced the fittings on two of the stanchions, one had broken and the other was splitting.
It was only 2pm and I did not want to do any more work, by the time I was organised it was 3. I was going to go to shore, but I told myself that I had to row, had I forgotten the morning scrubbing exercise. There was not much wind against me, but the current was coming out and where it all was constricted to come out the narrow bridge opening it was so strong I was practically going backwards.
I got back at 5pm just in time to watch the boats coming out of the lagoon, but none came out. 5.15 is the Air France to Paris and then 5.30 the boats go into the lagoon. The strange thing was that the traffic after the bridge was not moving. After 20 boats had gone through the bridge went down to let the emergency services through, that is why the traffice was backed up. Then the bridge re-opened to let another dozen boats through. It seemed to be very slow, but only took half an hour, by which time the sun had set and it was about to go dark.
Friday 4 January
The wind is picking up again, which is good because my batteries were down to 88% and I will have to run the watermaker tomorrow. I am very pleased that for two weeks at anchor I have not had to run the engine, but I think more solar power would be good, then I can go to less windy spots.
After many false starts I made a bungy cargo net to keep the jerry cans on deck.
I went into shore and met up with John and Shirley from Grover and then we went to the yacht club for Happy Hour, beer is $1 a bottle. This is Friday night the end of the working week and it was very busy and the crowd cheered as all the boats came in through the bridge. The tourist catamarran crew mooned back, boys of course; the customers had all been dinghied back to the beach.
We then went on to the next yacht club whose Happy Hour continues where the first one left off. I met Owen, who had bought his boat in Trinidad and we had been there and in Grenada together, but never met. He is working and gets the work boat to take home and very kindly gave me a tow back to my boat.
Saturday 5 January
An early start to run the watermaker and do the washing before setting off for the fleamarket over on the French side in Marigot. It was a very long dinghy trip, am I pleased the motor works now. The fleamarket was very small, it started at 8 and there were hardly any vendors or customers. I had taken some of my stuff, but nobody wanted my skiboots. We did not stay long, then it was back to Grover for a cup of tea and into town to look round the shops and have lunch. We went and visited the charter catamarrans that are based here and John and Shirley know all the crews. We hitched a lift back over to the fuel dock and then went by dinghy to the other side for the hardware shop. I did get some bits that may help me mend my drawer and keep the drawers shut without the need for bungy cord.
It was 6 by the time I got back to my boat, having to top up the fuel tank mid way.
A very full day out.
Sunday 6 January
Today there was a fleamarket on the Dutch side. I took the iron and the ski boots which I left beside the rubbish container in the hope that someone would claim them. I gave the paragliding helmet to Mike who buys and sells stuff. I gave the digital radio to John and Shirley. I brought back the spare 300w inverter. I bought a drink and a hamburger and a small backpack, 9 small and 4 large bungy clips, a soap holder and a courtesy flag. I really should be flying a flag here and there was a choice of a flag for Dutch St Maarten or a flag for the Netherland Antilles, which covers St Maarten, Saba, Statia, and the ABC’s, so I got that one as I can use it when I get to the ABCs. I also bought a hanging chair, the swivel shackle was worth the money and I had kept looking at them in Trinidad, but they were too much money new.
Shirley and John and I then went to help Owen put up his wind generator on his mizzen mast, which meant hoisting him up there.
Then they all came to mine for a beer and finished off the chocolate cakes I had made. Shirley had never seen my boat, which had taken me some time to remember that she was back in Ireland working when the others of us were in Martinique, which was 10 months ago, and in Grenada we were in different anchorages.
So all in all a very busy weekend that included no work at all; may there me many more!