Friday, February 29, 2008


On Monday daughter Leah arrived on St. Maarten. This has been a week we have been looking forward to for some time. For her too since she arrived from chilly Chicago.

On Tuesday we sailed to Grand Case on the north shore of St. Martin. A pretty little town with tons of resturants and on Tuesday nights hundreds of vendors set up on the main street selling all kinds of crazy stuff. We ate dinner at 'California' which is where the three of us had our Christmas dinner when we chartered here back in 2003. Still great food!

We decided to stay another day so we could snorkle and Leah could get a good hilly run workout in.

On Thursday we tried to sail around the north-east corner of St. Martin and down towards St. Barts. When we turned to try to take our our course of 150 degrees we found the 20-25 knot wind coming out of 140 degrees. That ain't going to happen! So, we turned back and sailed back to Marigot bay, threw up our Q-flag and had another pleasant boat day while we considered our options.

While considering we decided it was time for Mismo's first swimming lesson. She loves the water as much as any cat but seemed to learn quickly where the 'rescue fender' is. This is a fender we keep hanging in the water that has been wrapped in screen type material so she can easily climb on it.

Before Leah arrived we again went to the Sunday flea market at Shrimpy's. A new cruising couple came to town with a boat load of stuff and they were sellling it on Sunday. Among the many items was a perfectly fine hammock which we quickly bought and tested out on Enee. Leah also likes how it works. We are also very excited that Leah brought her wonderful camera with her. She's a terrific photographer and has been taking many action shots as we go about our regular routines on board. Look for her blog post with her photos soon. We'll put a link here for them.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mismo Plays Poker!

Splicing a Loop in Double Braid Line

Back in June of 05 we received a very nice going away present from our friend Jeff D. A whole set of fids and instructions for making a slick loop splice in double braid line. Since that time I’ve tried a half a dozen times to do this and only ended up teaching myself new swear words! The instructions are convoluted and besides it’s not clear what you’re even trying to do. Even having done it now I’m not sure what I did!

Well with Sue’s help we spent 4 hours and finally succeeded in making a loop. We needed to do this because we desperately wanted to replace the shackle on the main halyard and didn’t want a big old nasty bowline up there. I think we did pretty well. There is this hardest part of the whole process where you are trying to stuff a fid with the core stuffed in the end of it back inside the cover where there is already core. Right. Or as our English friends say, Wryyyght.

VERY tight fit and slow going at that point. It’s kind of amazing at the end you just milk the outer cover down toward the loop and all your work magically disappears leaving just the loop. I was actually going for a slightly smaller loop but this is as far as we could milk it.


Other gains made today...we've made our dingy official by painting the name on the side. This is a tedius process. You outline the letters using stencils and then fill them in by hand. We took the dingy to the beach side of a little island in the lagoon and got 'er done. . . .no problem except for losing my balance and spilling the paint onto the dingy tube. ARGGGGGG! Looks good from no closer than 10 meters!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thanks Lance

Just a quick note. Enee is floating again. We have high praise for Bobby's Boat Yard (Simpson Bay). Lance runs everything there and drives the 50 BFM (Big F------ Machine) Marine Travel-Lift and was very helpful and friendly. You worry when cruising because you are always dealing with someone ONE time and are unsure of what you're getting into. Anyone out there looking for a good haulout place...Bobby's in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten is a good choice.

That's Lance. Another happy boat worker. We've met hundreds!

We've re-anchored just over the line into French territory and will have to check out of the Dutch side, check into the French side, and buy a couple cartons of smokes.

Busy, busy, busy

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On a Roll

(get it we’re painting the boat. . . with ROLLERS!

Sailor Sue dons her paint overalls and is ready to go!

Seems like every once in a while we get on a good roll. That just about balances the bad ones that come our way I guess. On Monday Enee was hauled out at Bobby’s Boat Yard. No problems and the hull wasn’t as encrusted with sea life as we had feared. After a power wash it was clear that we just needed some minor sanding and scraping here and there. Wash the hull and get to painting! Before the haul out we made the trip to the French side to get the paint. Thanks to Larry and Debby from Debonair (get it?) for letting us use their dingy. I’m NEVER even going to try to start the Nissan again. EVER! That motor doesn’t exist for me. The paint is HEAVY. The four gallon boxes that we bought must have weighed 80 pounds and we bought two as we’re taking 5 and 3 are for a friend of ours on a 1948 wooden boat. He only has a rowing dingy and its at least a mile to get the paint. This was all loaded into Larry’ and Deb’s ‘fold-a’boat’. I’ve never been in one of these and I’m sure they are seaworthy but they sure don’t feel like it. The thing flexes all over the place and I have $900 worth of paint on board! It’s nasty stuff so we also bought the white paper painting suits (no cuffs) and rubber gloves. We spent the rest of the day knocking off the few remaining barnacles and the little white foot prints that they leave. We quit around 4, used the cold water shower in the yard (Yowza!) and walked the mile or so to Shrimpy’s for a well deserved happy hour beer. Also got to check on my brother law in Indiana having some heart work done.

Hang in Ken and get all better!

On Tuesday we did a little more minor sanding and cleaning and got ready to paint. We donned our paint suits with hoods, and put kerchiefs over our mouths. This stuff is really nasty! I’m sure you’d be arrested instantly trying to paint with this stuff in a U.S. yard! Hell it says right on the label,


Stern warning!

But it goes on fine and it seemed like it would take 4 gallons or so as we had predicted to do two coats plus a third coat at the waterline. This water line coat really makes a difference. We did this back in Marathon a year ago and for all the abuse the paint has taken, I still had solid paint for the 6” below the waterline. So while we were painting Enee, Debby was headed over to Budget Marine. I asked her to check on the readiness of our dingy deal that was cooking there.

When she returned we got the good news: We can pick up our dingy any time! Yeah! We finished our first coat of paint, jumped in the shower, and grabbed a bus over to Budget Marine. A good guy there, Vossie, (yep...South African. Everyone here is from somewhere else. We’re the only people I know who don’t have accents!) helped get the deal together. We’re buying the used dingy that was returned because of some blisters on the hull. This is about a $2500 dingy when new. When I showed up Vossie hollered at a guy across the store, “Hey, you’re selling that dingy to this guy for $600 OK?” It wasn’t really a question. OK. Sweet! I never care about boat problems that are where I can’t see them anyway! We added a brand new Tohatsu 18 HP 2 stroke outboard to this. Zoom! I wanted the 15 HP but they were out. The 18 weighs the same and only costs $50 more (It’s the 15 with different carburation). They put the outboard on the dingy, gave us a splash of gas and off we went! Started on the second pull! We’re so happy to have the worry about travel away from the mother ship removed from our list of things to worry about. Global warming and the big lie about Elvis being dead are still on our list. We got some more gas along the way (mixing it 25:1 for now) and headed to Shrimpy’s (again?) to celebrate. Our good friends, Mark, Lee, and Jules were there to help with that. We had a fine time too making fun of the French. Our English friends are especially good at this. The French are accused (right or wrong) for the stealing of dingies up and down the caribbean. The English say that the English outfit their boats to go to cruising while the French go cruising to outfit their boats! I’m sure this is not true as everyone knows the French are way too busy watching Jerry Lewis movies to get involved in any high seas shenanigans.

Now for food and a special travel moment: We walked a little ways down the street to a little mexican joint. It’s really just an old van which is now the kitchen and some tables under an awning. Smells good though! While we were ordering at the window we sort of struck up a minor conversation with a lady sitting alone at a table. After we ordered the cook said, “You can sit with Loretta if you like”. Smelling a scam we sat anyway. A wonderful string of stories of a hard life some possibly even true started coming out of Loretta. It seemed she was hell bent on being very friendly to us and succeeded in being very entertaining. I sensed right away that this was an unspoken deal between Loretta and the cook where we also get to buy Loretta a couple of beers and her burritto which we did. (Loretta is not her real name because we forgot that.)

Whew! What a busy day and more painting tomorrow!

The plan now is to put the second coat on Wednesday morning, have the yard move the jack stands in the afternoon when the paint is dry and then throw a couple of coats on where the jack stands were as well as an extra coat along the water line and on all leading edges. These are places where the paint wears faster.

Wednesday arrives and we jump into our paint suits and get that second coat on well before lunch. This paint will now be dry enough in the afternoon for moving the jack stands and painting where the pads were. So, while we have time to kill we let all the chain out of the anchor locker and stretched it out 200’ through the yard. This chain has somehow become twisted so when I try to raise anchor the twists cause the chain to jump out of the gypsy. This is what caused the motor to break originally I think. Huge shock load when the gypsy re-grabs the chain. Actually it didn’t seem twisted so we just loaded it back into the locker carefully. If it stays on the gypsy now as I let it out when we anchor there should be not any twist. We’ll see. . . .

The yard boys moved our jack stands as planned in the PM and I painted the empty places where the pads were and the water line and all leading edges. Also gave the rudder and complete third coat as it always seems to wear fast. One more coat on the jack stand places either later in the day or first thing in the morning and we’re ready for launch!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bad Timing

Looking at a very busy day coming up on Monday - haul out, pick up new dingy and motor, about a mile dingy ride, and need to run to Time Out Marina, about a mile and a half dingy ride, on the french side to pick up the bottom paint - and the currrent outboard is totally DEAD. No start today at all! I'm going to have to lean on friends for dingy rides etc. for a day or two while we sort this all out. Remember, this is the outboard with the brand new carburetor! To any of you considering a Nisson 4 stroke...I wouldn't! I have a line on a warranty dingy and new 15 horse two-stroke. This dingy is a 9 foot fiberglass bottom that was returned under warranty due to some blisters on the hull. So, I can get it for maybe $900 instead of $2900 for a brand new one. I can grind out the blisters while we're on the hard.

So, confused and busy 24-48 hours coming up for us....


On a completely different tack...I thought I'd talk about our navigation. We have a gps at the helm with lots of information and down below we have paper charts. The morning of a departure we go over the charts and write our 'sailing directions' on a yellow sticky. Also we enter waypoints into the gps. The sailing directions are things like..."Sail from wp 3 until latitude is 18.5...then sail due east. Stuff like that. Works for us and cheaper than a chartplotter! The SSB down below also shows our lat long while we are underway so whoever is not at the helm can chart our position on the paper chart.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Busy Birthday Month

Happy Birthday to all the February birthday-ers out there. I - Sailor sue being one of them - had a lovely day, actually couple of days to celebrate. The captain made me a filet dinner with Enee fries on Thursday and yesterday we celebrated with our Manatee freinds and a delightful chocolate cake with my name on it. Nice.

In particular Happy Birthday to Andrea, Samantha, Luke, Christopher, and Georgia. Enjoy your day(s).

Friday, February 08, 2008

Simpson Bay, St. Maarten

Well, here we go again learning all about a new place where we know we’re going to be for awhile. Where’s the wifi, grocery, happy hours, other cruisers, mail, and so forth? For our first two days here we anchored ‘outside’ in Simpson Bay. This is fine but somewhat rolly. So on Tuesday we went ‘inside’ to anchor in the lagoon. The lagoon is huge and completely protected. There are only two ways in through narrow channels with drawbridges. One is on the Dutch side and one on the French. Oh yes, for those who don’t know, the island is split along a roughly east-west line with the northern hunk being french and the southern Dutch.

As the story goes a frenchman and a dutchman decided to split the island. They started from a spot along the east coast. The frenchman walked counterclockwise and the dutchman clockwise. When they met on the west side they drew the line from their starting point to where they met. A glance at a chart will show that the French hunk is significantly larger than the Dutch. It is said that this is because the frenchman carried a bottle of wine with him while the dutchman carried gin which significantly slowed his walking. You’ll also notice that the line runs right through the lagoon. This makes for some interesting international check-in/check-out questions. When you arrive at a new port you have to check in with customs and immigration. For Simpson Bay you now pay $20 a week for the right to anchor. You also pay a fee for the bridge if you come inside. Already it gets interesting. We arrived and anchored on the outside. We paid $20 for a week but no bridge fee. But, on Tuesday we came through the bridge. Are we supposed to run back and pay the bridge fee? Who, if anyone, is even checking on this stuff? Now if you enter through the French side and anchor north in the French waters of the lagoon there is no anchoring fee. There are also no buoys to tell you exactly which side you are anchored in. In theory we can check out of the Dutch side. Move the boat about 100 yards north and check in with the French and skip the $20. OK, let’s say we do that. Then on the 11th we return to the Dutch side and get hauled out at the Marina. Do we still pay the $20? We’re not anchored but we really should check in since we will be living aboard in Dutch territory. Again, who’s roaming through boat yards checking on live-aboards?

To me the solution is simple. 1. Charge the mega yachts $500 for using the bridge. Chump change. 2. The Dutch and French then need to form an agreement that checking in anywhere on the island counts for both sides. It is already true that if you check in on the Dutch or French side you can travel to the other side by car or foot or dingy without checking out or in. It’s only if you move your main boat from one side to the other. Maybe just change the name of the island to Frutch or Drench. OK, is that all clear?

The lagoon is reminiscent of Marathon Florida if you can imagine Marathon with about 50 mega-yachts! They are just amazing and there are mega-sailing yachts as well. We’re talking 200’ and beyond here. Where does all the money come from?

Those who are frequent readers of this blog know how this lifestyle has its ups and downs. It’s not all pina coladas and midnight strolls on the beach. Tough sail into here but then...out of propane again! Something is seriously wrong. I can detect no leaks but propane is vanishing from the boat. I think maybe the tank or maybe even both have rusted through the bottom. So, first order of business is to maybe replace one of the tanks with a new aluminum one. There are two great marine stores here (Budget Marine and Island Water World) and besides those there is every kind of marine service here. Kind of like Ft. Lauderdale! It’s a long dingy ride from the outside to Budget Marine way in the western corner of the lagoon. But lots of pretty boats to look at except. . . .DUM DA DUM DUM. . .

Yeah, outboard is acting up again. This is with the 3 week old carburetor. I really don’t mind problems. A big part of cruising is to really dig solving problems to keep the whole trip going but to keep trying to solve the SAME problem is very tedious. This is why we don’t have refrigeration. Just tired of worrying and throwing money at the same problem.

Well, at Budget Marine we bought some supplies for our topside painting project and looked around . . . and forgot to ask about propane tanks! Jeez-o-peet! Well, tomorrow maybe. Our next job was to find Bobby’s Marine and get information about haul out and bottom work. It is a VERY long dingy ride to Bobby’s and I had to keep nursing the outboard along. It’s like it is not getting fuel and when you rev it it barely gets going. I keep hoping someone steals the whole rig!

Then, at Island Water World I found that they now make Kevlar propane tanks. Very light and about $100 less than aluminum. I bought one and will buy another when my working steel tank goes dry.

Bobby’s is a real working boat yard. Not fancy at all. Lance, the operator seems like a good guy and we have tentatively scheduled a haul out for 2/11. We hope to get two coats on the bottom and a third coat along the water line. Now the really bad news. The paint of choice down here is SeaHawk. . . at (get ready) $265 per gallon! I’ll need 4 gallons. Oh sweet jesus. If I spill a drop I’ll probably break down in tears! We have heard of a boat yard over on the french side that is selling Ameron ABC3 paint for more like $110 a gallon. Yeah, but it has to work! My bottom (the boat’s that is) looks like a coral reef! If stuff is just going to grow there anyway I might as well put Sear’s house paint on it! Sheesh.

I’ve since got some positive reports about Ameron. It’s used by commercial boaters such as tugs and freighters and now a few cruisers are using it. It should be in friday or saturday and we’ll pick up 4-5 gallons.

On Sunday there's a flea market at this local joint Shrimpys. We decided to bring our stash of The Why Book of Sailing and try selling some. We sold half our suppy! Well that's only 6 books but seemed like free money.

Later that day we had fun watching the SuperBowl at Ric’s Bar and Grill with our new best friend Mark from Manatee. Go you Giants! Mark won the pool for the last quarter of the game and so he and his wife Lee took us out to dinner the next evening to celebrate. What fun. Thanks again kids.

We took the little bus (11 person van) to Philpsburg the other day. This is the town about 5 miles to the east where the cruise ships go. The whole town is just jewelry and junk shops. Not much reason to go there really.

Yesterday we took the dingy to the french town of Marigot. That’s a little more interesting town but the streets are bumper to bumper cars with tourists NOT looking like they are having fun!

At this writing I’m looking at a used Nissan 9.8 hp 2 cycle outboard. The guy who runs Shrimpy’s Bar deals in used marine things and especially outboards. I’m a little nervous about trading in one set of problems with another but I have zero confidence in our 4 stroke nissan. Yesterday it stalled with us about a half mile from Enee and down wind. We tried to paddle but were only breaking even when we got a tow from a passing power boat. Of course back at Enee it ran like a champ for many minutes. We jumped in to go ashore, got about 200 yards and it died again. So I’m DONE with this outboard.

Mismo continues to grow. I think we’re going to have a 20 pounder here. Here she is helping me tape for painting the topsides. What a helper!

Stay tuned for pictures of painting the bottom! With or without Mismo's help.