Monday, February 25, 2013

Back in Blue Water

For those of you who thought we'd never leave the green waters of Simpson Bay lagoon - I say HA! We finally got going again and sailed on to Antigua. Before we left, we spent a bunch of time with friends Denise and Jean Pierre on Absaroque, a Whitby 42.

We knew of each other through mutual friends Bob and Janice on Tsamaya, but we didn't run into each other until St. Martin. *A quirky side note - Denise & Jean Pierre, and Bob & Janice were married on exactly the same day!

We shared drinks and meals and games of dice, and I have a newfound appreciation for Pastis thanks to Jean Pierre. He makes a mean Ti Punch too.

We shared a rental car one day and did some errands and some exploring around the island. Skip and I had bused into Philipsburg a day earlier to drop off our windlass motor at a repair shop and went the next day by car to pick it up. We'd gotten a recommendation from Mike of Shrimpy's laundry for a repair guy.

A well known site to cruisers coming and going via the French bridge
Mike is the unofficial ambassador for St. Martin and the sailing community. He's been in St. Martin forever and runs a great laundry by the French bridge. He and his wife Sally Anne are fixtures here and Mike does the St. Martin radio net each morning on VHF 14 at 7:30 to help cruisers share information. He has infinite patience with all the wacky personalities that come and go on the water here and he's a font of information about where to go for what.

Odd bits on the front desk at the shop - did not inspire confidence.
Jean Pierre and Skip don't seem worried though.
The shop (for anyone in need of such information) was behind what used to be the Shell Station, behind the wall with the blue shutters and the HIELO machine, down the road from the Cost-U-Less after the second round about in town. Got that? Given more or less those directions we found the place and Pablo (below) set us right.

You can tell by his blue fingers that he resprayed our motor blue after fixing it. Safety first!
Skip and JP inspect the fix.
We did the rounds of the big stores for provisioning... Cost-U-Less (so-so in my book, unless you're looking for large quantities of junk food or things for your house), a Grande Marche (great grocery stores - different prices depending on which one you visit) and Leader Price (a fun French side buy-in-quantity place)

Denise wisely brings a sarong to ward off the chill in the overly air conditioned Cost-U-Less.
Leader Price, found down island as well has all kinds of fun things, including about ten different kinds of chocolate cereal, proving that French kids have as diets as crappy as most American kids.

I love the hyped up kid on this cereal box.
And on their non-nutritious cereal, they have a choice of using liquid milk, powdered milk or... milk that you squeeze out of a tube?!

Clearly we needed a little translation on some items... thankfully Denise and Jean Pierre could help out. 

"What's French for 'STRONG coffee'?"
Here are two random shots for two of my sisters.... Rebeco beer for Rebecca and dog food for Ruth who has multiple dogs and will LOVE the puppy at the end of this blog. (Oops... I should've given a spoiler alert there.)

The day Skip and I bused into Philipsburg there were SIX cruise ships docked. The beach was a crush of people, umbrellas, beach chairs and vendors hawking Sint Maarten hats and T-shirts. Tucked between all the shops there was a great little museum that highlighted the island's Arawak past. We spent a little time there then sat and had a beer and decided that was enough of Philipsburg for us. We bused back to the French side and dinghied over to Absaroque for drinks and a few games of dice. 

Philipsburg - not exactly a peaceful island hideaway.
I'd seen an article about what I thought was a museum on the road to Grand Case, that I wanted to see, but it turned out to be a showroom for marble and stone work. The owner, Patrick Lapierre was there when we stopped in and gave us a mini tour of the place. His kitchen and bath designs are hi-tech and understated - and he showcases local artists as well. 

Denise checks in with the rebar iguana at the entry.

My. Favorite. Thing. In. The. Whole. Place. 
That's me imagining myself asleep in this tub.
Patrick Lapierre gives us some details about the artists.
I didn't half capture the place, so here's a link to his web site if you want to see more. There were sculptures made from petrified wood, rebar, shells, engine parts and just about everything else you can imagine. It was a look into the imagination of different artists and an inspiring stop.

Back on Saralane we reinstalled the windlass motor. Remember the windlass motor? The initial problem was that the windlass was slowing, which seemed to indicate that the gearbox needed to be removed and cleaned.  It should have been no problem, but we couldn't get the damn thing off. No amount of banging, heating, threatening or voodoo hexing did the trick. In the process, we either discovered that one of the posts on the motor was broken, or, we broke it trying to get the gearbox out. Either way we saved ourselves future angst by seeing the problem and getting it fixed by Pablo at the shop behind the wall with blue shutters and the HIELO machine. 

But... that still leaves the gearbox unserviced. And with the fixed motor reinstalled, the windlass is STILL slow so we haven't solved the problem. One more chore kicked back down to the bottom of the to-do list. 

We dinghied to the Capitainerie to clear out and made a stop at Shrimpy's to say thanks to Mike for his input on the windlass. And... we saw this! Mike and Sally Anne's new puppy, Flipflop. Floppy for short. Is he cute or what?

Floppy - at Shrimpy's Laundry
Floppy is about six weeks old and is NOT endearing himself to Shrimpy, the older dog who's been top dog here his whole life. Notice Shrimpy's expression....

Shrimpy on the left, making his displeasure known to Floppy, the bundle of black fur on the right.
We've been anchored more or less in the same area for most of our time here and Skip noticed this funky boat/dinghy near us. The double ended one in the center of this photo... and is asking for guesses about it's construction. There's no reward for the correct guess... just bragging rights.

Slow windlass or not, it was time to pull up the anchor and get moving. Friends Adri and Daryl whose boat Leila is on the hard for a bit of work see us off as we pass by. Back to work you two! Hope you're in the water again soon.

We take the early bridge out of the lagoon and just keep going. The wind is 15 to 20 from the NE - oh happy day! This means less banging into waves and wind than we usually do. We have a great sail and zip along around 7 knots the whole trip. Our fishing luck is still all bad luck though and before sunset I reel in our untouched line. 

We had the anchor down in Deep Bay, Antigua before midnight and the next day we sailed around to Jolly Harbor to clear customs.

Flying our Q flag on the way into Jolly Harbor
We pass Hawksbill Rock on between Deep Bay and Jolly Harbor. It's supposed to look like a Hawksbill turtle, which I suppose it does from a certain angle. Skip says it looks like a frog from this angle. I think it looks like a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting and a cherry on top. Anyone else see that?

Or maybe it's named for the Hawksbill turtles in the area... there's been one swimming around the boat since we arrived in Deep Bay.

I still see a cupcake.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weather Whiplash

We're back in St. Martin after about two weeks in Rhode Island and we're still sort of adjusting to being here. It was beautiful flying over the Bahamas on the way north and seeing the sand banks and all the colors of the water streaming together.

Then we landed in Boston. It's January in New England (and everywhere else of course). What were we thinking?! The first thing we did when we got into our house was this.... 

.... and we didn't put it out until we left almost two weeks later. Our apologies to our really nice new tenant - we just about used up what was left in the wood pile. We cleaned dirty things, repaired broken things, replaced missing things and generally worked our butts off while we were there, which is just what we were there to do. We had a flight booked to leave on Monday and on the Friday before, this happened...

Those are giant arborvitae bending almost to the ground with the weight of the TWO FEET OF SNOW that fell on Friday and Saturday. The snow fell and fell and fell and the wind blew and blew and blew and then more snow fell, and then this fell...

If this looks at all familiar it's because it's practically a repeat of this. So where we used to have two big beautiful trees in our yard, we now have only one half of a big beautiful tree. The snow was so heavy and the wind so gusty that it split our big juniper tree in half and it came crashing down in the back yard. We lucked out this time though - it didn't land on anything but grass. It missed the house, the studio and all the wires running to the house.... and not by much! 

I do NOT miss this at all.
A call to our tree guy found him vacationing and lamenting the fact that he was missing the biggest tree removal week for a while. I promised him our tree will be waiting for him when he returns. So we locked up our neat, clean house and started thinking warm thoughts as we headed for Logan airport. I had a little trouble with the warm thoughts part as I watched them de-ice our plane. Cripes.

We have to say a big thank you to Eliza who ferried us back and forth to the airport, at night when we arrived and then in the snow and slush and muck when we departed. Thanks Lize... you're a gem.

I haven't taken any photos of lovely things here since our return. Just this photo....

.... of Skip working on our windlass which has been protesting as we use it to bring up the anchor lately. Stay tuned for an update, but it's not looking good.