Friday, March 14, 2008

Best Sail Ever!

But, before we talk sailing. . . . Let's talk sailing. We're working with my genius daugter to begin producing our own podcasts and put them up on iTunes. Our first one is a little rough but really just a test of how to do this. If you'd like to hear us ramble on for 30 minutes you can go here. This is a site my daughter is building for us and there is a link to the first podcast there. When you click on 'Listen' it will take a bit for a photo to load. Then (again after a littler bit) there is a little 'play' button under the picture to actually hear us talking. . .well, you can hear Scott but turn it way up and sit close to the speakers to hear Sue! It begins with a Springsteen number but fades out after about 20 seconds (Living on the Edge of the World. . . get it?).

Best Sail Ever!
OK, I may have used that title before but not recently! On Wednesday we made the 0900 bridge opening out of Simpson Bay, St. Maarten and pointed Enee south - FINALLY! After beating to windward all the way from the Dominican Republic we finally get to turn right and put the trade winds on our beam and head south. It was actually just a nice close reach. The seas were down to just a couple of feet and Enee happily plowed her way toward Statia 30 miles south of St. Maarten. After a bit we eased the sheets a little and fell off a few degrees to pick up some speed. Enee is not very fast close to the wind so we let her run a little farther off. Hell, who cares? Who wants to get there now...this is too fun!

We did then motor into the little bay on the west side of Statia around 1600. We knew that the marine park here puts out mooring balls and with our barely working windlass my back always appreciates a mooring ball. So we picked one up and tied on. We’re real happy to be on our first stop in truly sailing south. That’s when things started going to hell.

First off, water would barely come out the faucet. This happens sometimes when the line gets an air bubble in it. We have to let it run (into the coffee pot. . . no waste!) until it ‘farts’ out that air bubble and then all is well again. So I’m letting it run and run. And run. And run. Water is just dripping out and the pump is sounding louder than usual. So, I peek at the pump in the engine room. Holy CRAP! The pump is just shooting my valuable (20 cents a gallon) water right into the bilge. There’s a broken pipe fitting. Well, this was pretty easily repaired. Luckily who ever re-plumbed this boat left lots of spare connectors on board. The good news about this repair is that the fitting that failed must have been cracked all along causing the air to get into my lines so not only did I fix the big leak but also the nagging water pump problem. Sweet.

Now then. . . why isn’t the water flowing down hill into the bilge? Why is it staying in the engine room? Only one possible explanation. It’s not down hill from the engine room to the bilge. Why? Oh yeah! I have a new 18 horse outboard and new hard bottom dingy hanging on the stern. Well, that’s not good and I’ll have to think about this some more. I guess if I ride on the bow pulpit and Sue sails the boat we might be back to balanced.

We relax with our sundowners and, wow, this is a pretty rolly anchorage! Swell is coming in from the south while we point into the generally east wind. Yeah, that means the swell is striking the beam and really setting us to rolling. If we were on anchor I could set an anchor bridal and turn us into the swell. If I had ambition I’d launch the dingy the take out a stern anchor to turn us. But, we decide to just ride it. How bad can it be?

Oh my god what a long night. It’s not just the motion but also the noise of everything in every cabinet sliding back and forth as we roll 20-30 degrees each way. Not much sleep at all. In the morning we just leave and not bother checking in or going ashore at all. We’re anxious to get to St. Kitts anyway in preparation for friends visiting us in a little over a week!

The 10 mile sail to St. Kitts (17 17.00 63 01.00) was not so nice as the wind tends to follow the shore here so we were getting headed pretty badly. We had the main reefed as usual but put the front sail out all the way. This is really too much sail for us and is really difficult to trim when we’re close to the wind. Suddenly the pendant to the tack of the sail (the bottom part) came off and this piece of the front sail is flapping in the breeze. Now that ain’t good. Snappy quickly donned his jacket and leapt to the bow to re-attach the sail. Never a dull moment. We decided to haul this sail in then and continued on with motor and main.

There's more mountain up there in the cloud!

What beautiful islands though. Statia, St. Kitts and Nevis are all volcanic. St Kitts rises over 3500 feet out of the sea and is covered in rain forest (and monkeys! - the green kind!!) that we look forward to exploring a little.

With the wind a little south east we headed for the eastern shore of the big bay where lies the town of Basseterre. We just got the anchor set by the coast guard station where two other boats were at anchor when a coast guardsman came out hollering for us to beat it! Crap. Now I have to haul chain by hand. I don’t know why those other boats were ok but we had to move out about 300 yards. OK, anchor down, launch dingy and we’re off to clear customs which is over on this shore somewhere. Customs was no problem just the usual filling out of forms and giving money ($12). Very friendly and helpful. Still have to go to Immigration which is over by the marina about a half mile away.

The marina is new and next to it they are building that is called Port Zante. This is right at the base of the cruise ship dock. We walked through there and it is bizarre. This is like what we saw a smaller version of back in Samana Dominican Republic. The cruise ships pay for a little pretend town to be built near their dock. In this pretend town are all the souvenir shops, jewelry and of course duty free this and that which is all made in China and probably available at your hometown Walmart. As I understand it these pretend towns are owned and operated by the cruise ship lines themselves. So when you go to ‘foreign’ lands by cruise ship you could just be seeing an extension of the cruise ship itself. Like staying inside a big safe white people bubble. Interestingly among cruisers certain towns are of little interest to them as they’ve been ‘ruined’ by becoming a cruise ship port. Reminds me of the Yogi Berra saying, “No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded”. The photo nearby is of the pretend part of town that leads to Port Zante and the big cruise ship - Queen Mary 2 is in port today.

If you walk a little further you come to the actual old town of Basseterre. The French and English settled here together and joined forces to completely wipe out the 2,000 Carib natives who were already living here. That accomplished they took to fighting with each other as the English and French inevitably do. The tradition here now is mainly english as Queen Elizabeth II is on all of their money (I guess they won). There’s a little traffic circle at the center of town that is called the ‘Circus’ as it is supposedly a smaller version of Piccadilly. The only thing left of the native Carib is the name for the caribbean beer.

Well, we have lots of more exploring to do so we can show our friends a great vacation here. Tomorrow we’ll sail to the south end of the island where there are several interesting looking anchorages and beaches to explore.

Ok. A flash back to St. Maarten. Here's a photo of Canadians we met in both Phillipsburg and Simpson Bay who were on vacation and following the regatta. This photo includes local guitar player and singer Lee. I call it - Sweet Lee and the Torontones!

And now Nova! Our favorite bartender at Shrimpy's. We don't know how we took the one on the left but we like it. Nova was a good teaser. . . she could take it AND dish it out!

1 comment:

brian said...

Nice read. We have to start working on our boat soon. I hope it's there. Skipper Bud's has endured a tornado (Kenosha) in January and two fires in February and March. Honest to God... the building that burned in February started on fire again this week when the fire inspector was there. His truck or some repair truck had a hydraulic line burst burst. The fluid hit the engone and it caught on fire again.