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Date: 31 Jan 2011 01:40:00
Title: Sorting things out in St Martin

Marigot Bay, St Martin, Sunday night

We had a great sleep last night as it was really calm in our new anchorage. The wind had dropped this morning, as well, which was a bonus for us as Kali had to go up the mast. Before that, though, we dropped Andrea off ashore so she could use the internet in the bar over the road to sort out our trip to Saba. The bar was closed all day but always looks open as there are loads of people from the marina sitting outside all the time using their wifi.

After waiting for a massive rainstorm to subside, we rigged everything up for Kali to go up the mast and see what was causing the noise in the genoa halyard. It sounded like a line running over something with a lot of friction so I wanted to find out what was causing it before anything got badly damaged. In the event, it didn't take Kali long to spot the problem. The block around which the genoa halyard turns as it exits the front of the mast was broken. The block itself had been deflected downwards and jammed so it wasn't turning - hence the noise of the line moving over it. The problem is that the whole assembly is rivetted to the mast so we can't get at it to fix it.

For the moment, we've taken the load from the genoa onto the starboard spinnaker halyard and tomorrow we'll use the port spinnaker halyard to share the strain. That should enable us to continue using the sail if we need to before we get it properly fixed. We've asked Discovery to send the part numbers to a rigging company in Antigua who've been highly recommended to us so they should be able to get all the parts together and fit them when we get there in a week or so.

I think the block got damaged as a result of a problem that we had with the tack of the genoa on our way to Saba. It's attached to a stainless part that's supposed to rotate independently from the roller furling foil but it had seized up, probably with salt, and the sail got twisted at the bottom. I think the strain from this pulled the halyard so hard that it broke the block. Anyway, I'm happy with our temporary solution, confident that we can get it fixed properly and relieved that we checked what the strange noise was. I suppose that's another thing I've learned on this trip - always investigate unusual noises. That goes alongside my other favourite - never enter an unfamiliar harbour in the dark.

By the time we'd sorted that problem out and re-coiled what seemed like every line onboard, it was time to go and get Andrea and take her off to lunch. We were going to look at the cafe in the town square but they were so pushy and hassly when we walked past that it put us right off. I don't know why restauranteers think it's a good tactic to pounce on people who slow their pace even slightly near their establishment. It always makes us run away and I'm sure we're not alone. We walked on down the road a bit to the French bakery which Andrea and I hadn't visited before. It's an amazing place where you can take stuff away or eat in. They have every sort of French bread and patisserie plus coffee and all the usual stuff. The staff even have the genuine French disdainful attitude to customers so it's just like being back in Europe.

We had some excellent lunch and I watched a succession of robust beggars hassle people leaving. They seemed to take it in turns so there was only one at a time but they were arguing with people who didn't want to give them anything and even hassling people eating near the street for their unwanted food. One even persuaded a couple of people to tear off the end of their baguette and give him that. The thought of running the gauntlet made for a stressful dining experience and I wasn't going to reward them for that by giving them anything. When it came to leave, we did so swiftly and with no backward glance.

Going back to the bar near the marina, Andrea tried to book the plane tickets to Saba which she'd found in the morning. They were no longer available. So she booked two on a later flight but the website threw an unspecified error once she'd entered her credit card number and everything. Great. Now we didn't know if we had the tickets booked or not although it was no longer offering those seats so it looked like we had booked them. Nothing for it but to ring up. They assured Andrea that we were not booked on the later flight but that there were tickets available for the earlier one. Andrea booked them and then got told that the only way to guarantee the reservation was to actually go to the airport and pay in person. Honestly, what century are we in? I'm surprised they didn't want her to pay with Silver Dollars.

None of this went down very well with Andrea who by now felt that she'd spent all day on booking one plane and two hotels and had yet to actually manage any of it. There was nothing for it but for her to get a cab to the airport where they had the nerve to make her pay a service charge for issuing the tickets. She did manage to get our reservations, though, so we're flying to Saba tomorrow afternoon and hopefully staying a couple of nights in each of two funky hotels, one of them an "eco-lodge" which I expect means there's no hot water. Saba has the shortest commercial runway in the world and sounds a bit like landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier so that'll be interesting.

Kali and I spent a long time trying to work out how to mount a riding sail onto Saxon Blue but there's no easy way to do it so we've put that idea on hold for a while. I did a few odd jobs and then it was time for dinner. At my suggestion, we had pasta salad about which Andrea was extremely sceptical but, presented with another Kali triumph, she's changed her mind. We're now onboard enjoying the cool of the evening although we do miss the light. The sun sets almost instantly at 6:30pm so the temperature is perfect but it's pitch dark - there's no lovely long summer evening like you get in a proper summer.

Harvey

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