Redwings Round the World

St. Martin & St. Barts

5 - 14 March 2001

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Sunset, Road Bay, Anguilla

5 March - Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maarten  

Aaron - What a great night's sleep!  Zero roll in the lagoon.  Only problem is the jets that take off and land over our heads onto the airport runway just a mile away, but luckily they stop at around 2300.  Its amazing through - huge 747's that look like they are just coming right at you along the top of the water before lifting off and buzzing the mast.

St. Martin is one island, but the southern part is part of the Netherlands Antilles (Dutch) and the northern part is French.  We are currently moored in the Dutch side (Sint Maarten) of the lagoon.

This place reminds me of Florida: beaches, strip malls, Burger King, Pizza Hut, everything is priced in US$, hundreds of multi million dollar motor and sail yachts.  The lagoon, large yachtie community, casino, and airport, add other interesting angles to the atmosphere.  Again, it's amazing how distinct and different each island we visit is.  What a contrast from Statia, which is only 30 miles away!

Ok we have to face it.  We have cockroaches.  First one a week, then one a day.... we put boric acid all around in Antigua and did some spraying, but we have hit recent highs of 3-4 sightings per night.  These are little guys, a bit sluggish, seem to be some St. Lucian strain best we can tell.

As Colleen mentioned, we bought various weapons of mass cockroach destruction in St. Kitts.  We went to work early this morning taking all of the food, dishes, cookware, etc. out of the cabin and, along with all of the interior cushions, placed them on deck.  I then sealed up the boat and let off a "bomb" which is supposed to kill all cockroaches on contact in an area up to 5,000 cubic feet.  Colleen headed into town with Dorothy from Gigolo to explore the provisioning options and I worked on de-rusting and polishing our stainless while I waited for the noxious chemicals to do their stuff.

Three hours later, I re-entered and opened the boat and started cleaning.  I scrubbed all cabinets, corners, and areas behind and under drawers and cabinets, and then added some special deadly cockroach bait with a syringe thing.  Hopefully this process will kill them without killing us!

Colleen came back to the boat in the afternoon and we spent the afternoon cleaning and re-stowing everything.  I also did an oil and filter change and major bilge cleaning with lots of oil break up stuff and biocide - its getting a bit smelly and I think that the "biologics" have taken hold following our fuel spill disaster in St. Lucia.

There is a huge snow storm in New England and many flights have been delayed.  Colleen went in to "Mailbox" a company which provides communications services, and left a message for her friend Steph who is supposed to be joining us tomorrow to call and leave a message there is she is going to be delayed.

6 March - Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maarten  

Aaron - We spent the morning cleaning and preparing for Steph's hoped-for arrival.  We learned from her Mom that her flight was in fact delayed and that she won't be arriving till late tonight, but at least she will make it - many flights are still not leaving at all, we understand, because there just are not enough planes in Boston even though the storm has pretty much passed through.

The storm is affecting the weather down here as well.  The wind has clocked around from the normal NE to the South and is expected to shift to the SW tomorrow before coming round to the normal E / NE position in a day or so.  There are also large swells forecast from the NW and local wind generated waves from the S so good thing we are in the lagoon - sounds like most outside anchorages are rolly.  Venla came in on the 1730 bridge opening and confirmed it was pretty bad in the anchorages in St. Barts.

In the evening, we went into listen to one of our cruising compatriots play and sing at a local bar.  Eileen Quinn is Canadian and is cruising on Little Guidding which is anchored next to us.  She has cut two really funny CD's of yachtie tunes with lyrics like these from "The Anchoring Dance":

...the perfect little parking place is easy to find

all you got to do is read his mind

if what your honey wants is hard to tell

when the hand signals fail, you can always yell.....

Eileen's CD's can be purchased via her website at www.eileenquinn.com

At around 2200 we walked the mile and a half down the dusty highway to the airport.  Steph arrived on time at 2250 no problem.  We were lucky to get a cheap bus taxi back.  Several cockroaches were waiting for us in the sink.  AHHHHHHHH I thought at least they would be too ill to eat out for a few days!

Steph e-mailed us a log of her trip.  See Steph's Log.

7 March - Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maarten  

Aaron - I dropped the girls off at "Lagoonies", a local yachtie hang out, in the morning where they caught the dedicated bus to the supermarket.  Whatever its shortcomings St. Martin is very convenient for boaters.  The supermarket bus comes right to the dock and delivers you to the store which has the best selection we have seen in the Caribbean for the lowest prices.

I stopped by Budget Marine and was sucked in by the display, variety, prices, and helpful staff.  I got out of there spending "only" US$200 after putting some stuff back on the shelves.  Everything is here.

Finished off a few boat jobs and played with new toys and then whizzed in to pick up the groceries - oh and the girls too.  We spent the afternoon poking around the beach and crashed a resort and hung out by the pool.  Nice.

8 March - Orient Bay, Saint Martin  

Aaron - Notwithstanding panic-stricken calls from the Caribbean Weather Center's David Jones warning about the impending North Westerly Swells which will soon (any day now for the past three days) make virtually all anchorages in the North Eastern Caribbean "untenable", we putted out through the bridge when it opened at 0900 and into Simpson Bay with a huge mega yacht Bon Bon steaming up our bum.

It was obviously rollier in the bay than in the lagoon, but plenty of yachts were out there and all seemed to have survived the night.  

 

We motor-sailed towards the eastern side of the island and past the main Dutch town of Phillipsburg where we saw four 12 Meter sloops - including the two old Stars and Stripes vessels of Dennis Conner fame - "racing" round the cans with tourists on board.

As we turned the corner, we were able to sail for an hour or so passing the steep to and scrubby NE side of the island.  Just two hours after steaming out of the lagoon, we tucked in through the reefs outside of Orient Bay, which is on the French Side of the island, and anchored in 12 feet behind a spit of land and a reef on the northern side of the bay.  Just outside of the slop.  Beautiful spot. 

Another ARC boat Hakuna Matata was anchored right in front of us.  The owners are a young Finnish couple who are friends with Cheryl and Heikki on Venla - the boat is the same as Venla as well - a Jonmeri 33 (great little Swan knock-off racer cruiser).

After a chinwag with the HM gang, we dingied all the way across the bay to check out the nudist colony on the far side.  I was disappointed that not one babe below 40 was spotted among the "naturalists".  I don't think Colleen or Steph saw anything too exciting either.  We took a long walk up and down the beach (non-nudist all except for the easternmost tip).  Great beach but really a Euro holiday-makers Mecca - jet skis, beach chairs, para sailing etc.

Beautiful evening on Redwings with full moon overhead and no significant swell to disrupt our sleep. 

9 March - Gustavia, Saint Barts  

Aaron - We left Orient Bay at around 0930 and were quickly sailing hard on the 15 to 20 knot wind with a double reefed main and a few turns out of the genoa towards St. Barts.  Steph got pretty quiet early on and was soon hunkered over the leeward rail tossing her granola bar and coffee onto the awash starboard deck.  After that, I think she felt a bit better, but pretty much stayed head down till we were just off Gustavia 2 1/2 hours later.

It was a fairly choppy ride.  Its only about 100 feet deep between St. Martin and St. Barts and the swell is fairly steep too.  They call ferry between the two islands the "Vomit Comet".

St. Barts is the ritziest isle of the Caribbean - Mega Yachts, Cartier, Rolex - no boat boys flogging bananas here.  Great dinner (thanks Steph) at a French restaurant before heading back home for a somewhat rolly sleep.

10 March - Gustvia and Anse du Columbier, Saint Barts  

Aaron - I spent the morning in the internet cafe uploading these pages and e-mail and catching up on important international news - like the status of Nomar's wrist and Carl Everett's punctuality.  Colleen and She-dog spent their way around town and met me - multiple shopping bags in hand - at 1230 at "Le Select"  - a bar / restaurant near the docks where Jimmy Buffet ate his famous "Cheese Burger in Paradise".  I had one.  Pretty average actually, but a nice eatery all the same...

In the afternoon we pulled up the anchor and tooled around the corner to Anse du Columbier (Anse means cove).  It's open to the NW, but it does not seem the feared NW swell is ever gonna materialize and now the wind is very much from the SW, so we expect it to be even less rolly than Gustavia (which was a bit floppy, but not too bad).

Beautiful bay.  Anchored in 20 feet - the hook is completely buried in soft sand.  Colleen and Step mounted an amphibious landing on the beachhead and got pretty wet - there is still a lot of surge even if the swells are not too bad.  I stayed on board and worked on the water maker which does not seem to be getting enough raw water to do it's stuff.  New filters, a ream out of the intake, and a tightening of the belt to the high pressure pump solved the problem.

Princess of Paste Retains Title

In the evening, we listened live on Armed Forces Radio to the Boston College Basketball team (Steph and Colleen's Alma Mater) beat Pittsburgh for the league championship.  They are going to March Madness with a good seed.

11 March - Anse du Columbier, Saint Barts  

Aaron - Hung out in the Anse for the day.  It really is a nice spot.  In the morning, a mid-sized sea turtle swam around the boat for about an hour or so.  Must have been feeding on the schools of little fishies that are visible over the side.

At 0930 we made another amphibious landing assault on the beach and hauled our craft way up above the steep high tide line, before setting off on a short hike.  We scrambled up the bluff overlooking the bay and trotted off along the dirt path that skirts the bay to the North of Anse du Columbier.  Big rollers on that side crashed to the beaches.  The path eventually joined the road network and we headed towards Gustavia with a view to ultimately making a circuit.  The island was very quiet municipal elections are being held and just about everything was closed.

Fortunately, the boulangarie / patisserie at the halfway mark was open.  Hot pain chocolat and coffee made a great break.  We continued up to the top of the hill overlooking the Anse - beautiful view of the boats, outlying islands, and St. Martin and Anguilla beyond - and then descended via another dirt path back to the beach.

On return, I suited up and went for a dive off the NW tip of the bay.  This is the first time I have ever dived without a buddy.  I know its not the safest thing, but otherwise it seems I will hardly ever get out there as its tough to get Colleen to take the plunge even though she seems to enjoy it once she gets down there.  Saw more turtles and lots of fish, though the coral was not too colorful.  Nice way to cool off though after the hike and get a bit more exercise.

In the afternoon, we propped up the cockpit table and got the cards out for a serious Redwings hearts session.  Steph, remembered getting blasted when she met us in Thailand, but soon became reacquainted with the rules and had some good hands and even finished ahead of Colleen in the final tally.

12 March - Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maarten  

Aaron - We made a snap decision to leave the anse at 0830 to head back to the lagoon in Sint Maarten.  We've got a lot of stuff to get done before we head off for the Virgin Islands and Steph needs to be there anyway tomorrow to catch her flight, so might as well get in there.  To catch the 1100 bridge opening, we quickly hauled up the anchor and motored out towards St. Martin, unfurling the jenny and lashing down stuff as we went.  We had to make an average of almost 8 knots all the way to make it.  The 20 to 25 knot NE breeze on the beam helped us get there with a few minutes to spare.  We were first in line back into the lagoon.

As we threaded our way through the boats at anchor, I spotted our friends on Tango Two on the far side of the lagoon.  Although nobody was on board when we arrived, we anchored up nearby and soon enough, "The Borg" (T2's little saltbox tender) putted up to Redwings with Jim, Anna, and the now not so little Tikopea inside waving.  We last saw them in November in Las Palmas just before we crossed the Atlantic.  Tiki was then 9 months or so, but seems much bigger now at 12 months.  They came aboard and while all of the old farts caught up, Tiki clamored all over the cockpit now walking and half talking.

In the afternoon, we headed off to do a bit of land exploration and caught a bus to Marigot on the French side.  Like the other islands we have visited North of Guadeloupe, St. Martin is scrubby with few trees, and damn hot when the sun is out.  Its not very fun waiting around at dusty bus stops and sort of diminishes one's appetite for exploration.  The wait for the bus was not really worth it as we left Marigot within 1/2 hours of arriving - touristy cheezy strip town.  We boarded another bus for Grand Case, which is supposed to be the "cutest" seaside town on the island.  Another strip of restaurants and shops along the beach.  We hunkered down at a beach side bar under umbrellas and drank the afternoon sun away emerging only after dusk.  Beautiful beach and sunset and the town looked a lot better in the cool of the evening as well.  Fantastic French meal on a terraced restaurant overlooking the anchorage.

13 March - Simpson Bay Lagoon, Sint Maarten  

Aaron - Another day, another robbery.  There seems to be a yacht-focused crime epidemic in St. Martin.  Every day one or two break ins and or stolen dingies are reported on the morning VHF Net on channel 14.  Most of the time, the targeted boats are at the edges of the anchorage and or unlocked, but one was broken into at the dock last night with a crowbar.  We feel pretty safe, but certainly our level of caution has increased.

As soon as we were done listening to the various goings on on the radio nets, we started in on preparing the boat for our passage to the Virgin Islands and on towards the Bahamas.  St. Martin is a duty free port and an easy place to get stuff done, so we decided to plow through most of our prep work here.  Brought the propane bottles in to be filled in the early morning and then took the boat over for fuel and water.  Got a nice rain while at the fuel dock and opportunistically scrubbed down the boat as well - ahhhhhh.  Steph got a better view of the "real" boat life - up anchor, jog off fuel dock, try to tie up with the help of brain dead fuel dock girl, diesel, water, gasoline, visa card, scrubbing, swearing, stressing (not to bad really - we are actually getting pretty good at all this) and then back into the narrow channels and out into the lagoon only to run aground two times trying to find our way back to deep water.  Normal cruising life.  Not just sand beaches and snorkeling.

Once clear of the two meter mud banks, we decided to anchor a bit closer to the action to avoid long wet dingy rides.  We found one reasonable hole, but just as we went to drop the anchor, Colleen indicated that the gears on the windlass were slipping.  I ran up and loosened it manually, giggled it, and got it to stick again, just as a huge windy rain squall descended upon us - "drop the anchor" I yelled as I rushed back to take the helm.  We got the chain out, but ended up very close to another boat, whose owner gave us dirty looks out through his portholes as we sat huddled under the dodger waiting for the 30 knot winds and whipping rain to subside.  As soon as the sun came out again, we hauled the anchor back up and headed for our old spot - I sleep better with a bit more space to swing.

As soon as we were anchored, I took off to check out and to try to find some replacement door latches for our aft head (the latch broke the other day and we were completely locked out - had to crowbar it open - luckily not much damage to the wood).  After waiting in line to check out, I was informed that it would cost us US$13.50 in port fees.  What!?  Fair enough but there was no notice on check in of any fees nor any mention of them on our entry forms etc.  Unfortunately, I had only US$2 in my pocket so I guess we'll have to check out tomorrow.

On to the chandlery.  Found some of the stuff on "the list", but not the right size latches, so I set off on a mission to explore all of the hardware stores of the island.  Walked to a few nearby - no dice.  Bused to Philipsburg, checked out three more and another chandlery - no have.  At least I was able to get some cash at the bank in Philipsburg.  Relatively empty handed for a morning of running around, I rushed back to the boat at around 1430 as I knew I had to get Steph to the airport.

She had her bags packed and was sitting on the side of the boat looking rather panicked and waiting for me - they thought I had forgot.  No.  Just trying to get as much done as I can with the time I've got and to go with the flow.  Off we went and this time dingied right up to a dock across the street from the airport and all went smoothly with Steph catching her flight with time to spare.

Colleen and I then rode all the way back through the lagoon to the marina, retrieved our propane tanks, and headed to the supermarket for a major provisioning.  Long day, but we are all ready to get out of here tomorrow and head up to Anguilla for a day before taking off for the Virgin Islands.  We've got to keep moving now.  We need to put in about double the distance over the next six weeks to make it to the US by early May as we have over the past six weeks.

14 March - Road Bay, Anguilla  

Aaron - The good news is that when I went to check out this morning, the "money man" was not there so they let me go for free.  So we are up US$13.50 over where we thought we were yesterday - we actually ended up making money on that basis today as we did not spend anything at all (a "zero day" - we've got to try to get more of those in to keep the spend in bounds of the budget)!

Out through the bridge at 0900 and off towards Anguilla to hook up with Tango II for dinner and ready the boat for our passage tomorrow to Virgin Gorda.  I put out all three fishing lines right away and by 0930 we had a small tuna on board.  Good enough for dinner so brought the gear back in.

Nice quiet sail with genoa only up Road Bay, Anguilla, a British-controlled low sandy island just NW of St. Martin.  We pulled up next to T2 and dropped the hook.  As we are only here for the night, and had a lot to do on board, we decided not to check in or go ashore.

I spend the afternoon servicing the winches, jurry rigging the head door, and generally dicking around with the boat while Colleen gabbed with Anna on T2.

As evening fell, lots of boats came into the bay including several large old sailing ships.  One from Islesboro, Maine anchored right in front of us!  Dramatic sunset with golden rays bursting around a dark squall line.

Great meal and fun with the T2 gang.  We're off tomorrow at 0600 for our longest passage since the big A.

Anna, Tiki, and Jim in "The Borg" Silly on Redwings

 

 

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Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved by Aaron Henderson and Colleen Duggan