St Maarten April 3, 2008 Position: 18:01.160N 63:02.589W
Bill and Judy Stellin
Thu 3 Apr 2008 22:23
We are on the "hard" right now, don't worry that doesn't mean aground. We are in a boat yard having the hull waxed and the bottom painted. St Maarten (Dutch) side in the main town of Philipsburg is very affordable, compared with St Martin (French) side which is inside Simpson Bay and caters to mega yachts and is priced in euros.
This yard is about as dirty as one could get. There are no paved surfaces anywhere and with the wind blowing between 25-30 kts gusting to 40kts, dirt and sand are in clouds swirling around and into every crevice on the boat. That is until it started to rain and so now everything is a sea of mud. Despite the conditions, the boat looks great after a waxing and we shouldn't look like a sod farm on the bottom with our new Micron 66 paint. This stuff better work. It is $235 per gallon and we used two gallons.
We are not here because it is cheap, we didn't know the price until we talked to others after we arrived. We are here because it is close to where the cruise ships dock and we will be meeting our daughter Kim, son-in-law Guy and their two boys, Ben and Jon on April 9.
We had to leave St Barts due to the weather. It has been blowing 25-30kts for weeks and the anchorage was so jumpy, rolly and generally miserable we couldn't take it for more than the six days we were there.The anchor has never failed us no matter what the conditions are which is great comfort. We are choosy where we anchor and make sure we are well fastened to the bottom. I dive on the anchor each time to make sure it is set.
I'd have to say the weather has been atrocious ever since half way across the Atlantic. It rains almost every day, the wind blows so hard it is almost impossible to ever go to any destination to the east of where ever we are. Even going north is hard due to the wind being out of the NE a good bit of the time.
This present weather system is just one of a string of intense low and high pressure fronts that come through every week and never end. We have yet to see with our own eyes any bay, beach or idyllic scene as shown in the glossy magazines and brochures. All we see is turbid water due to it being churned up all time from big waves and a sea scape that is covered with white foam from the size of the breakers.
We do occasionally get a break but it is so brief we hardly remember them.
St Maaten/St Martin has a big lagoon which is a favorite anchorage because it is completely land locked. There is a canal into the lagoon from the south and another one from the north. Each is crossed by an opening bridge. Because of the high winds this week, the bridges have been closed since Tuesday, (it is now Thur). Every boat has been trapped inside and only God knows when they will be able to escape.
I remember people (mostly those that don't know what they are talking about), telling us that we shouldn't go to the Med because either the wind doesn't blow, or it blow 100 MPH and the water is dirty.
Frankly the sailing here is much harder because the wind never stops blowing and never changes direction,plus the water is often stirred up and cloudy. At least there would be long weather windows in the Med. that would allow passages in any direction. Here the window is minutes long and sailing comfort really just depends on much of a beating you can stand. Wave heights have consistently been no less than 7 feet and right now approaching 20 feet. These are potential gear buster conditions on almost every passage. It takes a strong boat and sails to withstand the beating they take.