Oranje Baii, St Eustatia
Thursday 3rd May 2012
Distance run: 43 nmiles
We finally lifted the anchor this morning after a false start yesterday when the engine was very reluctant to fire up just as we were about to leave. Neither of us was keen to go out in dying winds with a potential engine problem, so I put the snubber back on the anchor chain and Steve set about investigating the problem. He couldn't find one, and each time we tried it during the day it started first time as it usually does, so we decided to set off this morning through the 0900 opening of the Simpson Bay Bridge on the Dutch side. This was the first time we had used this bridge and we had a bit of fun finding the channel markers through the lagoon as there are so many buoys it's hard to work out what is marking what! We made it to the bridge in good time though and as it led us directly onto our route south it saved at least an hour over leaving through Sandy Ground Bridge into Marigot Bay on the French side.
The last few days in St Martin had seen the arrival of Jean and Kevin's son Mark who is joining them on their return trip across the Atlantic, and their departure for the 2000+ nmile trip to the Azores. They passed by Scott-Free on their way out of the lagoon to say 'Goodbye' and we wished them a safe, fast and comfortable passage. We finished up some outstanding jobs, including replacing the stanchions damaged in Charleston, and made a couple of runs ashore with jerry cans to top up the diesel.
Jean, Kevin & Mark on Amokura headed for the Azores. This mega yacht had to breathe in to squeeze through the bridge!
Once out into Simpson Bay we hoisted sail and set our best course to windward - yes, yet again! We hoped to be able to make south east as we are heading for Guadeloupe, but there are several islands inconveniently in the way i.e. St Eustatia, St Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat, and we either have to go east or west of them. As Guadeloupe is south east of us, we decided to try to go east of them, but the wind had other ideas, surprise, surprise. So we ended up sailing south south east and as we neared the top of St Eustatia and we had the third very wet squall of the day, we decided to make for the west side of St Eustatia (generally known as Statia).
We arrived in Oranje Baii, Statia around 1700 and picked up a buoy just inside the breakwater. The one other monohull yacht there was rolling badly, and there was indeed a fair swell running, so we thought we'd give it an hour or two to dry out a bit and have a bite of supper, and then decide whether to move on. The other yacht, a Moorings charter boat was obviously a lot lighter than us as we rolled only a little and certainly not enough to prevent sleep, so decided to stay the night and leave early tomorrow. It must have been bad on the charter yacht as soon after we arrived their crew went ashore in a rib and didn't return! We wondered what a charter boat was doing out this far from a base, and speculated that perhaps they had run out of time to get it back to base and were abandoning it there! Quite a plausible explanation, in fact, because the weather is pretty unpleasant at the moment, but rather expensive as they would have to get a plane or ferry back to the base island and then pay the charter company's expenses to send a skipper to Statia to retrieve the boat! Not to mention the compensation for the possible loss of the following week's charter. (You can tell I had a few hours to cogitate on this one as I was being rocked to sleep...)
In Oranje Baii, Statia, whichever way we looked there were squalls.
Clouds almost completely covering the hills... eventually cleared having dropped all their moisture on us!