Posts Tagged: ‘St. Maarten’

In the News!

September 4, 2013 Posted by Deb

Sail Magazine contacted us by email while we were underway from Honduras to Guatemala. They had read our blog and might want to put a little article in their new special Multihull Sailor issue. I thought that was pretty cool, but by now it seemed like such a long time ago. The magazine came out yesterday and we rushed to Barnes & Nobel to see if we had a mention. Pretty cool article in their “CAT PEOPLE” section.

CAT People

CAT People

The photos were taken by 1) a tour guide on top of a mountain in St. Kitts, 2)  by our friends John and Cyndi on Cynergy from a beautiful sunset in the San Blas islands, and 3) by Mike & Linda on Casa del Mar from Honduras’ best kept secret, Cayos Cochinos.

Multihull Sailor, special edition of Sail Magazine

Multihull Sailor, Special Issue of Sail Magazine

 

What a 16-year-old Can Do

January 22, 2012 Posted by Deb

Yesterday afternoon as we sat in the cockpit working on a couple of boat projects, Laura Dekker, a 16-year-old, finished her circumnavigation of the world right in front of our boat. So, I did a little research on the girl and she is pretty amazing.

She was born in New Zealand when her parents (from Holland) were sailing. So, she’s been on sailboats her whole life. She just wanted to go farther and farther and test the waters. How she is not sure if she can ever go back to her home country, Holland. According to her blog,

…from the moment my plans became public, Youth Care and other government organizations tried to stop me. During the first court case, in August 2009, (even before Youth Care had ever seen me, or had spoken to me…), they asked the Judge to take me away from my father and to lock me up in a secure clinic! By doing this they tried to stop me from sailing. 

She’s been battling the social system in her country ever since. That’s just amazing to me. Anyway, it was kind of nice to see a part of history yesterday.

 

A New Year

January 5, 2012 Posted by Deb

We spent New Year’s Eve on Compass Rose whose captain hails from Perry, Iowa. Tom and Gail are sailing with their two daughters and a dog and Tom is the former Iowan. The rest of the family is solid California from Sausalito. Four or five fireworks displays triggered at midnight and their dog went into major fear mode.

We cleared out of St. Martin behind two megayachts, each with a stack of passports of around 50 for passengers and it looked like about 20 or more for crew. The captains took over every horizontal space in immigration with piles of paper and had cell phone conversations going while dealing with customs. A few of the beautiful people came along as well for, I believe, tight plane connections and it looked like it had been a long time since they had actually waited in a line. Seemed like a high pressure job for the captain. The Dutch immigration folks love making these folks wait and the story is that Paul Allen will never come to St. Martin again because of an immigration experience.

We got our weather and took off for St. Kitts, about 50 miles away. It was a great sailing day with the Christmas winds moderated and the swells down to 8 feet. Only problem was that the wind went way south on us and we couldn’t make St. Kitts.

I expected a shift that never came and we ended up in Statia (Sint Eustatius). Customs and Immigration ate about a third of our time on the island but we did a quick hike and ate at a nice looking place with terrible food. It was Chicken Day and all that was left was some mushy stewed stuff; the rotis on the menu were finished.

From Deb: On our little hike, we climbed a cliff to an historic cobblestone village from the 1700’s. I stopped in a little shop to get some water and found Grandpa Cookies. Whenever I visited my grandpa, he would pull out his little baggie (from a recycled bread wrap) full of cookies he made, one at a time, holding a waffle iron on a stick over his gas stove. The cookies in Statia are called Krokante wafels met vanillesmak (crispy waffles with vanilla). Grandpa, who always claimed to be French, with VanderEcken being his last name, made beautiful Dutch cookies. hmmmm.

Statia isn’t really geared up for tourists. They had to call immigration and roust them out to open their office and the restaurant that we had recommended to us just decided to close that day. We also had to wing it for a dinghy dock. We got a kick out of the port security guard. There was a 40 foot gate across the road that was wide open and he kept running out and insisting that we walk through a little security gate on the wrong side of the road. He waved his hands and said “This is for trucks and cars” and pointed at his little gate. Looks like Statia has a couple of dive shops that seemed busy. We grabbed a mooring ball, Deb dove it to check it out, and left the next morning for St. Kitts.

We hoped for a better wind angle on the fifth, all forecasts were for east but got out there and found winds at 140 to 185. We were supposed to be hard on the wind on a port tack and we were motorsailing on a starboard tack. We could either spend the day sailing off into the Caribbean and tacking back or stick with the diesels. Seventeen years ago I would have sailed, today we motored.

St. Kitts has possibly the most pleasant immigration, customs, and marina staff we have ever encountered. The worst remains Key West, FL. in 1996 and that record will never fall. We put Neytiri in the marina because the area is not good for anchoring or dinking. We got rough docking instructions from the Zante Marine port captain and were to get details as we came in. When we came in, he informed us that we would be Med tying to a single wood piling on port. Deb lassoed the piling as we backed in and between the wind and some tank driving with the diesels we got hooked on three corners only. Then it was off to more highly recommended bad food but I have a feeling we’ll get lucky with the food later on. The expectations for this island are a hike to the 4,000 foot volcano, diving, and a train ride. That’s right, the only working train in the Caribbean.

Holiday Guests

December 28, 2011 Posted by Deb

Megan and Deb on Pic Paradis

We watched our last guest fly right over our heads on their way home just yesterday. In three years on Sanity we had five sets of guests and we’ve had two already on Neytiri. Of course our first official guests were blowing through on a cruise ship (a holiday wedding while hopping through the islands), and we crammed a Loterie Farm hike, a quick visit to Neytiri, and a lap around the island into a 9:00 to 4:00 window.

Vickie & Deb at the Roti Stand in Phillipsburg

Our next guest was Vickie, a long time sailing friend and we had five days to entertain. Two days before she arrived the Christmas winds kicked in at around 35 knots with higher gusts and the swell went to 15 feet. Oops.

We were anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon during the Christmas wind blow and the bay has poor holding. Not only were the cruising options off the table at least in the short term but we were anchored in the lagoon. The lagoon isn’t exactly the Caribbean vision of a secluded anchorage off a pristine beach. It is more like being able to toss a Presidente bottle into your neighbors cockpit in a mass of boats anchored off a rocky shoreline littered with wrecks. Not exactly what you buy a plane ticket to the Caribbean for. The many groups on charter boats were faced with the same dilemma as they sat in the lagoon and watched their substantial investment in a week of cruising the islands tick away.

The forecasts started calling for a break in the wind at about mid-visit for Vickie so we did a solid 2 days and hiked Loterie again, did some power shopping, provisioned special meals for Christmas, took in a cruiser’s Christmas Eve party at Lagoonies, and cleared out of the French side and headed for Anguilla again, this time on Christmas Day. St. Barts was the original plan but the wind and waves made that challenging.

Vickie on the way to Prickly Pear

We went straight to Prickly Pear, assuming incorrectly that British customs were closed. It seemed like it would save $50 as long as they didn’t notice. Toward late afternoon a number of boats looked like they were planning to stay, in fact, some were still coming in. Overnighting in the Marine Parks is strictly forbidden but it looked like several boats were going to try it. We were happy to stay because the wind shift made Road Bay tough to sail and we were a bit too relaxed. Once we made that decision and settled in for the night, the other boats left. Only one other boat remained, a bunch of kite surfers. They dinked over and asked if we were planning to stay the night and if so, they would too. I told him “yes” and that we could split the fine. He was going to go with “engine problems” and I was going with “sick passenger.”

Of course, the sick passenger excuse would have been a tough sell if anyone observed the meal on Christmas night. We did it right with lobster and all the fixings with plenty of wine. We chased the meal down with popcorn and our first showing of the extended version of Avatar. The kitesurfers were directly downwind and my guess is they were smelling food that was a hell of a lot better that what they were eating. The next morning we sailed off and left Anguillan waters before the mighty Anguillan navy was awake.

Deb has been unable to update the blog since December 7 due to a loss of admin access to WordPress. It seems to be a common problem but none of the solutions in the forum worked; so, if you’re reading this, she finally found the bug.

Polebarn 101

November 27, 2011 Posted by Deb

Polebarn 101Chuck has been telling everyone (when they are looking for some bit for the boat) that he has one of those in his polebarn back home in Iowa. The polebarn in Iowa is becoming quite famous. And, no one here really knows what this “polebarn” concept really is. So here’s Chuck, at Richard’s storage container, giving polebarn 101 lessons, on how to make most efficient shelving.

Bombed Out Resort II

November 22, 2011 Posted by Deb

Hurricane Lenny took out this resort. The property has been in insurance nightmare limbo until last year as the insurance companies sorted out who was going to pay. Nature is in the beginning stages of undoing this resort but it is still in pretty good shape.

Central Plaza

Pool

Second Floor Bar Off the Main Plaza

Former Flagstone Sidewalk

The Best Room Left

Conference Center

View Toward Marigot

Jacuzzi

A Bit Behind

Better Than Some I’ve Owned

Breakfast in Simpson Bay

November 16, 2011 Posted by Deb

Morning in Simpson BayMy office in Simpson Bay. Got up early this morning and made English muffins. Nice breeze in the cockpit. No better place to get things accomplished.
~Deb

Other Megayachts of Simpson Bay

November 12, 2011 Posted by Deb

November 11 is the Dutch side’s version of the US Fourth of July. Staying open on the Dutch side is not an option unless you’re very tightly associated with the tourist industry. There are stories of the police raiding places that are open, jailing the owners, and doing an immediate shutdown sans bill paying and meal serving.

Here’s a shot from the helm looking toward the Dutch side.

Looking out from Cockpit Dutch Side

The island is home to the megayachts and to a degree we benefit from their annual migration. The support systems for the megayachts create a great number of specialists and specialty stores and they are all looking for business during the hurricane season. Hurricane season 2011 is winding down and the mega’s are returning. One old Dutch mega is an immaculately maintained 1930’s vintage boat. They actually have to drop and anchor and modify the drive train to go in reverse.

Anyway, in the same lagoon as the megayachts are these beauties.  We call them the “Other Megayachts of Simpson Bay.”

MegaWrecks 1

MegaWrecks 2

Splash

October 28, 2011 Posted by Deb

After carefully arranging with the New Zealand yard manager (Roger … a great guy) to put Neytiri in slings on Friday the 28th to finish priming and bottom painting the chock block areas and bottom of the keels followed by a launch on Monday, October 31, the monster travel lift headed our way Thursday afternoon, the 27th, picked up the boat and moved it out of the mud. The yard crew started painting away on the bottom. The captain has the ultimate say as to when a boat is launched and I could have called a halt but we started thinking about getting out of that yard on Friday rather than Monday. We had a through hull or two to slam in, our yard debris to get back on the boat, paperwork to fill out, and dozen or so errands to run but we decided to go for Friday, the 28th.  About then the guys ran out of bottom paint.  We got on the phone, called in a quart of bottom paint and got Michael, the French Canadian, to agree to show up on Friday morning to carefully watch all the engine changes we had made to make sure things were running well and salt water wasn’t flying everywhere.

At 10:00 a.m. on Friday, October 28, Neytiri got into the ocean for the first time (with that name). We put a plate with the former boat name near the factory serial number to maintain a naval tradition that few adhere to anymore. Oh, and for good luck.  The parts all worked reasonably well for having not been used in six months and we motored off into Simpson Bay looking for the French side where having no clearance papers is not a big deal (the Dutch clearance papers from the former owner were lost on board) and where you don’t have to pay $50 US per week as a cruising tax. And, ohhhh, the breeze felt good.

Launching in St. Martin

Juggling Act

October 23, 2011 Posted by Deb

Today was a typical day. Deb spent an entire day on hold with various financial institutions trying to track down our last bank wire as well as begging for some shipping information as to how, where, and when to meet our shipment coming from Miami via Chicago. She was on hold for over an hour and 25 minutes with our old bank back in MN, despite having been transferred to over five different people. I made numerous trips to the marina stores, directed traffic on the watermaker and instrument replacement project, pulled all the hardware off the refrigerator door, pulled 85 feet of Raymarine cable through the mast with Richard up top. I raised Richard up the mast by pushing a button on the electric winch. Nice toy.

A Fast Triple

It started out as a day of small victories and small defeats but by afternoon, our shipment from Chicago was not only confirmed but was delivered free of charge to our apartment. The bank wire to pay for the apartment was successfully reversed (Deb drove out to Oyster Pond and paid them with the cash that we had accumulated by emptying every ATM on the island), and our first mail shipment arrived. The boxes from Chicago arrived in almost perfect shape but we used full bug protocol anyway and found one eggshell casing in one box where the plastic wrapping had been torn a bit. Now … how to get all that stuff on a boat that was full of tools from contractors and the former owner and the sails.

Bombed out Resort

I seem to collect bombed out resorts. There is a nice one a short hike around the corner to the northwest from Orient Beach. I’ll try to get the story. Google has several listings under abandoned resorts but not this one. We’ll see.

Bombed Out Resort Orient Beach