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St. Matin/Sint Maarten

It is hard to believe it has been 2 weeks since our last post. So much and so little has happened….

I think we are beginning to feel like we are really living this lifestyle and not simply on vacation.

We had a reasonably good passage from the BVIs to St. Martin, but we were both happy to arrive and have that passage finished before the Christmas winds kicked in. 

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Our arrival port in St. Martin

The wind eased a bit so we left The North Sound, BVI on December 15th around 1 pm.  The wind was mostly on our nose, but we managed to motor sail for the first 5 hours. Around 4:30 pm we reefed our sails as we saw a rain storm heading our way. Sure enough the wind kicked up to a brusque pace and the rain absolutely dumped on LIB.  But only for about 10 minutes.  Boy were we happy to have the helm enclosure we added back in September!

The rain storm brought a temporary change of wind direction and we were able to actually sail directly toward St. Martin for about 45 minutes. That was nice, but short lived. As night was falling, the wind turned again and hit us head on. I voted to drop sails and motor through the night rather than sail at such a tight wind angle.

Frank kindly agreed. We probably would have had better boat motion if we had continued to sail.  By falling off the wind and tacking a time or two the passage would have taken longer, but may have been a more pleasant ride.  Still, we arrived safely in SXM around 9:30 am and I appreciated Frank’s lowering of the sails.

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Last June we spent time on the French side of St. Martin, so this time we went over to the Dutch side, that is Sint Maarten.  We had our first bridge crossing into the lagoon. I was at the helm and at first I was nervous about the width of the boat versus the bridge, but we had plenty of clearance.

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The bridge into the lagoon in Sint Maarten

We had plenty of clearance, but not so much that I could take a picture while passing through.

I don’t know why, but Sint Maarten draws a large number of h-u-g-e yachts.  We enjoyed dinghy-ing around the marina and seeing the mega-yachts. 

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Minimum length – about 180 feet

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Pretty sure this tender is larger than our ski boat was!

I especially liked watching the big yachts enter and leave through the bridge.

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Fun to watch and celebrate NOT being at the helm!

We had an opportunity to meet up with David and Amy of Starry Horizons again, which is a big treat for us. 

We also reconnected with Shane and Sara of Dream Chaser, whom we had met last spring in the BVIs.

Dream Chase, Starry Horizon and LIB are all Helias, so the six of us got together and had another episode of, “What changes/additions have you made to your boat?” and “How did you fix this Helia issue?”

Who knew I would become so fascinated with how others store provisions, plates, spices etc.,  much less want to know how they arranged their water maker or forepeak compartments.  Life aboard has caused changes in me already!

We have shared sundowners with a few other cruisers and enjoy hearing about their adventures and learning from their experience. 

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Breakfast at Serafina, St. Martina

Since LIB is a boat, there are always things to be considered or addressed. Recently Frank went up the mast and diagnosed the problem with our anchor light (white light at the very top of the mast) and our deck light (about 1/3 way up the mast and shines on the foredeck). Luckily the only issue was two burned out light bulbs which we were able to buy at Island Water World. Now LIB is visible at night with her anchor light shining brighter than ever before.

The view from the top of the mast is too pretty not to photograph….

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Looking outward toward the mega yachts.

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Looking down on LIB and Day Tripper.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten is popular with tourists which is evidenced by the tours we saw daily. The two most popular tours on the water appear to be kayaking and mini- dinghy parading.

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Captain kept a close eye on every dinghy parade!

After spending almost a week in the Lagoon, we exited and moved to Grand Case, a French bay on the western side of St. Martin.  Grand Case is quaint and full of restaurants, but the dinghy dock stinks! 

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The water is so blue!

We spent Christmas Eve with Shane and Sara of Dream Chaser including a leisurely dinner at La Villa. The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the company terrific!  A very nice treat.

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Thanks Sara and Shane

Christmas Day was a quite different this year and we missed being with our sons.  We had a chance to talk with family which helped make the day much happier. We toured St. Martin by car and enjoyed the views looking out from land instead of in toward land. And even though we missed our kids, we consider ourselves truly blessed to have this adventure on LIB.

Lest some readers be concerned, Frank has had a chance to kite a couple of times while in St. Martin as the wind has been “nuking.”  Frank took me with him to kite one day and sadly I am still not proficient.  However, I am determined to succeed and I am confident I will conquer the sport very soon!

Winds and Waves and Rain, Oh My!

The spirit of the “Christmas Winds” were upon us during parts of our BVI visit in December.  The Christmas Winds are expected in the Caribbean and usually means wind speeds of 20-30 knots.  Thus, the sailing can be spritely, to use a Christmassy term, during the holidays.

One particularly gusty day, we were anchored off of Sandy Spit when a fairly ominous looking storm approached:

Sandy Spit Storm

The sun highlights Sandy Spit like a favored haven.

The usually blue waters took on a more menacing green cast and the waves built out in the channel.  Luckily we were a bit protected by the reef that runs between Sandy Spit and Green Cay.  Though the storm didn’t last long, the winds and waves remained throughout the night.

We were very happy that we had invested in a heavier Spade anchor at the Annapolis Boat Show and that TMM had already installed it for us:

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As a precaution we let out a little more anchor chain, set an anchor alarm, and had a very restful night.  We are really glad there weren’t many boats anchored nearby because the boat that was anchored parallel to us on our starboard side? Well, the next morning it was at least three boat lengths behind us!

I’m really thankful for a good anchor, a solid hold and an anchor alarm to let us know if something goes awry.

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