Preparing for the crossing eastbound

Around the Atlantic: ✔ Next stop: Circumnavigation
Ron Noordhoek
Tue 29 May 2012 09:36

The flight was long but okay. At Antigua they surprised me by having my luggage labeled through to St Martin. I was told to pick it up at the airport at Antigua and have it checked in again since the last part was with a different airline. When the luggage belt stopped and my bags weren't there I immediately went over to the desk because the plane we just came of was flying on to Tobago, with my bags still on board ?? The lady looked at my baggage tags and told me I should pick it up at St. Martin. I didn't really believe her but there was nothing else I could do … But it all went well and I could see them unload my bags when we got to St. Martin. Eline was already there, she had landed 10 minutes earlier, arriving from Curacao, right on schedule. She was a bit emotional... coming back after so many years.

Together we got a taxi and went over to Bobby's Marina. Getting on board was quite a surprise!! When I went down I stepped in the water... salt water. That was not the idea, not at all !!! I took off my shoes and went looking for the leak which obviously was there. It didn't take long to find it. The sea cock that I had fixed in Brighton was leaking. When I wiggled the sea cock, it snapped completely and now water was really coming in.

Luckily I have wooden plugs hanging at every sea cock and I could stop the leak within a minute. When we had a closer look there was around 2 inches of water above the floor boards. That's a lot!! We started pumping, by hand since the bilge pump was completely under water, but it went better using buckets. When we got enough water out, the pump did the rest.

In the mean time I had called Mick, the supervisor of the marina, to ask him if he could lift me out. Since he had no one around to help him, he told me he would help us first thing tomorrow morning. That was okay, the plug held fine so we weren't sinking any longer.

By that time Frits had called my, Arie and he had missed their connection in Miami. Customs and immigration had taken too long …. and they had missed their flight by 10 minutes. Oh well, I guess that wasn't too bad after all. The four of us might have been too many and we would have gotten in each other’s way.

Around 21:00 Eline and I had had enough and went out for dinner. The first place we could get to was ' Curry in a Hurry' what turned out to be a very nice local restaurant and the food was good too.

Next morning I went over to Mick and an hour later we were on the hard. Andy one of the engineers that was around on a Saturday, looked at it and told me he would be able to help me and replace the hull though fitting. It looked like a classic example of electrolysis that had completely eaten the fitting. Andy also checked all the other fittings and they were all fine. Since we were on the hard, we cleaned the hull. Enough came off to give us a knot or so more in speed!

Anyway, I guess we were very lucky after all. Since our berth was very shallow, the keel was already touching ground and we wouldn’t have sunk If we would have come a day later. If it has to be, this was the best place for it to happen, not mid Atlantic!!

Eline and I spend the day organizing the boat and fix the instruments I had taken home to repair. Nothing seemed to have been damaged by the water. Around 6 pm we went over to have diner and there I got a call from Frits that they had landed. It took them about an hour to get to the marina which is really a 4 minute drive, but anyway. Well this was some arrival … and so much for the plan.

Today we'll go and do some shopping while Andy will fix the fitting. Monday morning we'll be in the water again and off to Antigua.

So far so good!. Arie and Frits did a very good job in getting the AIS running,  In the meantime Eline and I went to the supermarket to do the shopping. However, the one we wanted to go to was closed Sunday's and the next one the taxi drove us to was extremely expensive, so we decided to wait until Monday.

Andy and Rene did a good job in fixing a new hull through fitting. All in all it took way more time to get back in the water, but we’re all fine with it. It is what it is and we're not really in a hurry or something. We decided not to rush, no one says we have to leave today and also we don't have to go to Antigua either, which is 90 Nm straight upwind. We wanted to do a first short trip before the crossing so instead of Antigua we will go to St. Barth, that's upwind too but only 20 Nm.

The anchorage at St Barth looks very promising and it would be nice to have a real tropical swim before we leave.

That afternoon Marie, Andy's wife drove us to the supermarket this afternoon. They really are very friendly and helpful. But then again, Andy is a sailor too. He crossed the Atlantic about 60 times, 3 circumnavigations and a lot of racing.

Doing the shopping was a challenge but fun. The four of us together with Marie went over to CostUless. Arie and Frits where all over the place collecting stuff. Eline, who was in charge of the list, wasn't getting anywhere, so every 20 minutes or so we had to stop and give her a chance to update and check the list again Anyway, we got everything quite easy and Marie was really a great help in driving us. When we finally got back to the boat it was about happy hour and a great dinner at Curry in a Hurry's.

Next morning we got all the stuff delivered and got all the remaining things done, filling up the water and fuel tanks, go over to immigration and lots more. At 4:30 pm we set sail for our first leg to St Barth.