Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oyster Pond

Beth, Dorothy, and Bob went to the Radison Resort to see the inner harbor and amenities. Afterward, Dorothy held a snorkling clinic just off the boat. Beth was her in-water student and the rest of us followed along in the dry.

We had a short motor sail to Oyster Pond. Sunsail's staff was at lunch when we arrived and didn't answer our radio or phone. Like last year. Ron piloted in following the red markers. Sunsail crew was spotted taking a boat out. Oops. He lost his dinghy and had to return to retrieve it. We did what we could to help. Then he came back to take our boat to the slip. He gave us a reverse clinic while docking.

We had one more night aboard, but no more sailing so we needed to enjoy St. Martins. We took a cab to Marigot, which we didn't get to by boat. Marigot has a beautiful and large harbor with a new circle breakwater with a modified star dock cluster. We climbed to the top of the hill where the old Fort was located where we had a 360 degree view of the harbor and Marigot.

After a well deserved round of drinks, we ate near the water at Grille de la Mer gorging on snapper and lobster.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Anse Marsel

We had a few hours in Gustavia before we had to be off, so Dorothy and Bob arranged for a scuba dive and Beth and I took a trip to town for a walk to Shell Beach and food shopping at Tom's Food. By mid-afternoon we set sail for Marigot--or as close as we could get.

In fact we only got to Anse Marcel. A Radison Resort in the inner harbor and a seemingly protected anchorage. However there were light swells from the North and variable winds in the bowl. The guide book mentioned that the winds might swirl in the bowl-like anchorage.

We dined on lamb chops from Tom's--succulent. We did eat very well aboard. Our most memorable meals were made ourselves. Good for us!

Anse Marcel was a bumpy anchorage. A small swell from the North hit our beam while the wind swirled from the Southeast making our anchor snap often. Fortunately, Bob set the anchor well so we were safe from dragging. However, the noise was tremendous during the night.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


It was just a short motor sail to Gustavia on the main island of St. Barts. We hoisted the main while anchored like two other boats did. Even though this is a reasonable thing to do for power if the auxiliary fails, none of us was used to hoisting the main while at achor. It gave us confidence that the two cats that left before us raised theirs. Ron, the skipper of the day, took us to Gustavia.

After a short search, we found a yellow mooring ball in the anchorage at Gustavia about a mile north of the inner harbor, where Sunsail boats were forbidden for insurance reasons. Beth called the Harbormaster, but had trouble understanding his strong French accent on the scratchy VHS radio. We assumed we were in the correct place and jumped in the dinghy to check out the harbor and clear Customs.

Checking in after a long dingy ride was very easy compared to Anguilla. It was a holiday so some shops were closed including the tourist center. WiFi was advertised but did not work at customs. A money exchange a couple blocks down the street had a computer running the Chrome Web browser (which interested me) so we used it to check the weather and our mail.

After a great round of drinks at Le Select, we hailed a taxi gave us a tour of the island. Beautiful vistas!!! We stopped long enough in St. Jean to do some shopping and access the free WiFi there. This was the only free WiFi we noticed in the islands.

We began looking more carefully at the weather because our initial report had stronger northern swells arriving. The reports we received via Web did not mention swells at all. Tonight ESE wind at 10 kt. Showers possible Friday. Clear Saturday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ile Fourchue

Our longest sail of the week. We rose early for bagels and motored around the north end of St. Martins into the east wind. There was a good reach to Ile Fourchue and we got review the highlights of the East Coast of St. Martins on the way.

Ile Fourchue is a beautiful uninhabited island and marine park. We took a swim, snorkle, and hike. We beached the dinghy on the sandy beach and walked up to the summit to see neighboring islands. On the way we collected rocks and noticed there were no goats. Apparently, the goat population ate itself to extinction.

We haven't had much problem with sea sickness, even though it's been rolly at times. Three of us wore a medicated patch, but Beth and Bob had difficulty keeping theirs on. Mine seemed to stick while swimming, hiking, and day-after-day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prickly Pear, Anguilla

I was with a handful of other sailors at the customs office when the doors opened. Our extra copies of the crew list was very helpful, but I was never sure if we were "crew" or "passengers" and I was asked over and over again. But, I got through customers in just a few minutes. Or did I? No. The other half of customs--the part that really counted because cash was exchanged--hadn't happened yet because the agent was not there. I was sent to the "Commercial Dock" to find the agent. I did not know what I was looking for. Here we go!

I befriended a Scott who was trying to clear out of Anguilla and knew who the agent was. He hadn't seen her. He thought everything was too expensive given the world-wide money crunch. Suddenly, he saw her and engaged her in conversation about clearing out. "No;" she said. "Not possible." Hmm. Were we supposed to bribe her to do her job? The Scott sweet-talked her until she agreed to meet us back at the Customs Office. He thought she might give us a ride, but that wasn't going to happen. We walked the beach again back to the Office.

A half-hour later and $100 got me cleared to have lunch on Prickly Pair. It was easy. She had no forms. No receipts. No concept that I didn't know what she or I was doing! Still we both muddled through. Great! More paradise ahead.

We had a lovely sail and dinghy ride to a beautiful lunch spot. The view of the waves off the reef that spanned the entire width of the island was magical. I'd never seen so many kinds of blue.

We couldn't stay long, because we were to leave Anguilla that day. After lunch, we dropped our mooring ball and sailed to Grand Case, St. Martins, which was celebrating the weekly market day. The streets were filled with street venders and shoppers. A brass band marched up and down while children danced before it. We danced too.

La Bodega was a topas bar with a nice server and very slow service. A disappointing meal at a great location. How did we manage that?

The dingy dock was overflowing with boats. We had locked ours to a ring on the dock, but where was it? It had floated or been dragged under the dock to the other side.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Road Bay, Anguilla

The sea is better today, but nearly behind us. I attempt to keep the apparent wind at to more than 120 degrees. During a jibe or traveler line snaps off at splice. We make a repair on the go by holding back the traveler with a dock line.

We appear to be in plenty of time to clear customers this afternoon, but get to the customs 5 minutes before closing and they are already closed. Just what we didn't want.

Dinner is steak, corn, and mushrooms. Food really tastes good here.

After dinner, we played cards: a game I'd never heard of before called Mao. No apologies.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The sea was 10-feet and higher and we had a good wind above 20 knots. It didn't take us long to reach Tintemarre, I little island with a white beach off the Northeast of St. Martins. We headed in and found a nice place to anchor. We could have gotten closer to the cliff for better protection, but this was our first attempt and it seem pretty good.

We set about swimming and taking in this paradise. Dorothy scouted the beach for the mud baths that were to be found just behind the beach. She reported that they had been comandeered by others, so we bathed in salt water instead of red mud.

The menu consisted of fresh-frozen salmon marinated in a version of my sister's recipe. I through these on the grill and hoped for the best. Later we learned that Ron doesn't like salmon, but he raved about this grilled concoction. Paradise can make anything taste royal.

The night was a bit rolly. New sounds and echos in a glass boat made our rest interrupted. Still, it was wonder for our first night in paradise.

Cast Off to Tintemarre, St. Martins.

Once the staff were back from lunch, we were ready to cast off. The tide was lower than usual and we wouldn't have enough depth along the out dock to clear with our nearly 7-foot keel. This didn't seem to bother the staff, one of whom boarded NiPolos 3 and instructed us to untie the main halyard before casting off. Another jumped into a dinghy and followed us. A few yards out along the outer dock, we ran aground. I was instructed to toss the halyard to the dinghy crew who tied it to the dink and throttled it until we were heel quite well and free. A few yards further, we were aground again and went through the same routine. I was taken aback the the nonchalance of these maneuvers. I considered running aground quite serious, but was happy for the practice in getting us free.

The next actions were to replace the halyard and raise the main. Sunsail didn't want us in the channel without power in case the auxiliary 75 HP Yanmar failed. Just the week before, Sunsail lost a boat returning to Oyster Pond because it got a cross wave that dashed it on a reef. The sea was 10 feet and the wind was 20-Plus at the mouth of Oyster Pond, so we were heading into it. We followed the dinghy out of the harbor into the narrow channel between two reefs on either side. The instructions were to keep the red markers close to port and continue past the red/white buoy for several minutes before setting a course to be sure we had sufficiently cleared reefs north and south.

None of us was going to take any chances. We followed the instructions to the letter and followed the dinghy to the buoy. We also followed a cat that had left before us. We saw it rise and fall with the incoming waves. At one point, we saw it airborne briefly before it settle back on the downward back of a wave. I was happy to be in a deep keeled mono-hull.

Oyster Pond Sunsail Chart Briefing

Dorothy and I attended the Sunsail chart briefing at their headquarters in Oyster Pond, Sint Maartens, Dutch Antilles. We got word that a northern swell would build by Friday and we would want to avoid that. We decided to go north first toward Tintemarre and Anguilla and then south to St Barts. We received many instructions about clearing in Anguilla---"take many copies of crew list." I didn't get a good feeling about Road Bay, Anguilla where we must clear customs.

Monday, March 2, 2009


March arrived like a snow lion with hours of lake effect snow created by cold air blowing off the unfrozen Lake. It's enough to make one think of Florida--something I've vowed never to do. Generally I write about Speakeasy or, at least, something to do with water but preseason baseball games have begun and Spring can't be far behind. Besides, I just learned what a Lady Godiva Pitch is--a pitch with nothing on it. Here's another one. A Linda Ronstadt Pitch is one that is so fast that it blew by you (as in Blue Bayou). Don't blame me. I've got cabin fever.