Three weeks in Sint Maarten

Imagine Of Falmouth Online Log
Jon Constantine
Sat 18 Apr 2009 23:00
Sun 19th Apr 09 to Sun 10th May 09

We've had a very busy old time here.  Lots of boat work and a lot more socialising this time.  The weather is so much better than when we were here last which makes so much difference.

First things first, one of our main tasks has been to get hold of a solar panel.  Last time we were here we met Paul & Sandra on Quarterdeck and they were selling a solar panel regulator at a bargain price. We need one of those so we bought that first.  Paul also told us that he'd done a lot of research on panels and gave us the website of a American company that he'd bought his from.  Our only problem was getting it delivered here as we don't have a permanent address.  We'd spoken to Paul & Deborah about this and Deborah kindly said that we could use her 4 Star Cargo account.  Perfect. Delivery is very cheap as all they do is transport goods from Miami to Sint Maarten.  We just had to get the solar panel company to send the panel to the address in Miami and 4 Star would take it from there.  Deborah would get a confirmation email when it arrived and then we just had to pick the panel up from the airport and pay the delivery charge. We had given ourselves plenty of time by ordering it in when we'd arrived in the BVI  so that it would be ready for pick up when we got back here.  Famous last words. 

Jon is taking over the writing from here. 
We are now in Sint Maarten and still waiting for it!  This has turned into right palaver.  First I paid on-line with our Citibank debit card (a UK account but in US Dollars).  That was refused by the panel company as they said it was an "international" card (so??).  They then suggested I use Paypal which I duly did.  After making the payment, Paypal said it would be 10 days before the money would be received by the US company.  OK, but then after 10 days Paypal said NatWest UK had refused the debit charge, so it's one month later and we are still no closer.  Today (23rd April) I made a wire transfer from my HSBC account direct to the bank account of the panel company.  On completion of the on-line transaction HSBC said they would need to call me to confirm identity!   They never did call but the transfer went through anyway.  No wonder banks are in such a mess.

Back to me now.  This has now scuppered our plans a bit.  We were literally going to pick up the panel and then head straight down to Antigua for race week but we'll miss it now as we have to wait here another week for the delivery.  As it was, although we'd miss race week, all turned out ok in the end.  Over lunch, we were telling Paul & Deborah the situation and they said that as they would be in Antigua for race week working,  we could have the use of their apartment if we didn't mind feeding Penny, their cat, each day.  They'd be gone for 10 days.  It was the least we could do after all they'd done for us and it meant that we would could use their wifi connection, the washing machine and have the occasional shower too!  Luxury.  We stayed on the boat each night though.

We got lots of boat chores done plus we bought the highly discounted Lifeline battery and, after almost a year's debating on the pros and cons, a gas BBQ.  The panel has also arrived and we took the bus to the airport to collect it.  That evening a dinghy came by and we heard "Hail".  It's Foxy (aka Patrick and Sinead from Foxglove).  Brilliant - we haven't seen them since Tenerife!  They came over the next day for a catch up and helped us mount the solar panel.  We had problems with the fittings and had to give up when it got dark and started to rain.  We also abandoned our plans for the BBQ aboard as it was just too wet!  Pat came over again the following morning to help finish the job and with Jon, connected the wiring to the panel, regulator and battery.  What a star he is!  We know him and Sinead have enough work to do on their on boat.  Bingo!  We have an extra 8 amps immediately and it's not even that sunny at the moment.  With the Kiss generator and the panel we can now keep pace with our 'power hungry' fridge, laptops and lights etc.  The next day Jon connected the two Lifeline batteries together and now we have 500 amp hours, that's double our previous capacity.  Our electricity hassles may finally be over.  Here's hoping.

Our last major buy was a new wifi aerial - The Wirie.  We originally bought an aerial from Budget last year but it's never been that good and now that we are using the dreaded Microsoft Vista it no longer works properly, even after having downloaded the correct driver.  We heard on the cruisers net one morning that Mark on Irie was building and selling high power wifi aerials specifically for use on boats.  We checked it out.  Very compact and it works a treat so we are now proud owners of our own blue Wirie.  It's just a shame that you can't get any free networks from the boat here. 

As mentioned before we also spent a lot of time socialising.  We met up with Lee & Cindy from Tranquility on several occasions for sundowners and meals out.  Great to see them again.  Also lunch with Roger and Suzie, friends of Paul & Deborah who we met last year and again this year in the BVI, and of course drinks and meals with Paul & Deborah themselves on many occasions.  All in all we had an excellent time here albeit our bank balance is now a little on the light side and our livers could probably do with a rest!  Time to move on.........