Thursday, March 8, 2007

Street party for the Heineken Regatta

March 4, 2007 Sunday
Marigot Baie (again)

Well, our purchased WiFi was a total waste of time.  It worked (very slowly) for about 30 minutes.  Bill called their office and was told that the problem was the Heineken Regatta sailors trying to upload photos and download weather and stuff like that.  Supposedly, they were eating up all the bandwidth.  The office claimed that this happens every year during race week.

Well, the WiFi office spokesperson lied.  The racers weren’t causing the inadequate bandwidth problem.

We went into Marigot last night for a street party held for the racers which was sponsored by Heineken.  We returned to the boat before 8 o’clock --- leaving all the partying racers ashore; so there should have been plenty of bandwidth at that time.  Nope; it was just as slow as during the supposed heavy usage racing times.  So we canceled the WiFi service.  It wasn’t worth the aggravation of trying to use it.

The Heineken Regatta street party was fun – lots of people watching, lots of good food, LOUD music, and $1 Heineken beer (in very slim cans so they didn’t hold very much).  John treated us to dinner at the Arrawak.  The Paella Dude was cooking huge skillets of paella on the street corner at the Arrawak, and John wanted to try it.  He said it was delicious.  We had eaten paella just a week or so ago in Grand Case when Donna and Bruce were visiting us, so we weren’t particularly interested in trying sidewalk prepared paella again so soon.  Bill opted for a small grilled lobster and Judy enjoyed an appetizer of calamari.  It was a real treat for all of us.

John walked around pretending to be a photographer for a magazine so several of the racing teams stopped and posed for him to take their photographs.   Obviously, they surely weren’t taking John seriously since he was not wearing a press ID and had only a single Sony digital camera hanging around his neck; but almost everyone played along anyway.

This morning the racers began to empty Marigot Baie.  It appeared that the racers would be sailing eastwards, so we decided to sail westward a bit – just to get out and sail awhile.  Well, it turned out that the race course did go eastward; but then it did a 180 and headed right back westward where we were sailing.  So rather than get in the way of the racers on their westward course, we took in the sails and motored back to Marigot Baie.   What a disappointment!  We had seen the sailing vessel Maltese Falcon last week anchored off Simpson Bay, and Judy wanted to sail down there and get a photo of it.  For those who aren’t familiar, the Maltese Falcon is the largest privately owned sailing vessel  in the world.  She is 280 feet in length with a mast height of 300 feet.  We have seen a photograph of the Maltese Falcon under full sail and she is a very unattractive sailboat, in our humble opinions.  There is a large “tower” on the bow where all the electronics are mounted that is quite unsightly; and the sails are sort of square-rigged, except that they look like electrically operated window shades.  A very NOT, NOT, NOT attractive sailing yacht.

A zipper on our bimini needs to be replaced and we have an appointment for a shop to visit our boat in the Marigot Baie anchorage tomorrow morning.  We don’t want to remove the bimini unless we know for certain that the shop can do this minor repair and that they have the correct zipper in stock.   We cannot use the bimini extension until this zipper is replaced.  We have also sent an email to Amel inquiring about purchasing a new bimini and having it shipped to Guadeloupe

March 6, 2007 Tuesday

The quote for the bimini repair was reasonable at 255 Euros, including adding 3 zippers so that we can install and remove it from the frame more easily.  So we contracted for this repair job and it should be completed tomorrow.  Quick turnaround or at least a quick promised turnaround.  Removing the bimini was quite a chore because the frame supports feed through slots in the underside of the bimini; so we are having zippers added instead of the stationary slots.  This added about a bit more than a hundred dollars to the cost of the job, but a feature that we feel will be well worth it.   They would have made a complete new bimini for 640 Euros, and Amel wanted more than 1300 Euros for a new bimini.  No way we would pay that amount to Amel, but the local quote of 640 seems very reasonable.  But we chose to repair the old one; no point in buying a complete new one when the old one will be just fine once the zippers are added and all the seams re-stitched.  Not like it is worn out; just needed a few stitches resewn and a new zipper.

Bill has been compiling a list of various spare parts that we would like to have on hand when we do the Pacific crossing.  There is an Onan dealer here in St. Martin, so this morning he went in to purchase about 12 items for spare parts for the generator.  He returned with only 2 of the items on his wish list – a fuel pump and a thermostat.  Most of the other parts could be ordered but would take too long to arrive.  We don’t want to wait here for weeks for ordered parts.  Maybe we can find these parts in Guadeloupe or Martinique.  We will try to get online while we are in Antigua and hopefully order these parts to arrive in Guadeloupe prior to our arrival there.

Today is working out good for us.  We are accumulating numerous items for John to take back to the states to mail for us.  Mailing anything from down here takes freaking forever.  We received an email this morning from our CPA regarding the preparation of our tax return for 2006.  Based on his numbers we decided to make deposits to our IRA accounts for 2006.  One more thing that John can bring back and mail for us, along with the signed form authorizing our CPA to file our return electronically and to electronically draft our checking account for the taxes we owe.  And Bill finally got his HAM radio General Class paperwork all worked out.  Now he can start doing Winlink email as soon as he receives the General license upgrade.  We will probably continue to use Sailmail for $250 per year until we see how well the Winlink works.  We have read that Winlink is often more difficult to get a good signal, whereas we can usually get a good signal with Sailmail.  So Bill will want to use both for awhile to compare to confirm that Winlink will work as well as Sailmail.

John is also bringing back the defective circuit board from our watermaker.  Another Amel owner wants to diagnose exactly what went wrong with that logic board.  So John will mail that for us also.  So convenient to have our own personal mail carrier from St. Martin back to the states.  John brought lots of things down to us (including 2 large US flags, 2 Texas flags, favorite shampoo and razor blades, and many surprise DVDs) and then he carried all our mail back to the US.  His visit was very timely for us.

March 7, 2007   Wednesday

First thing this morning we removed the shade awning and went into Ft. Louis Marina to get fuel.  It was so much easier to do this with three people aboard than it is with only two.  You can never count on having someone on the dock to help with the lines, so it is convenient to have the third person – one can step off onto the dock (Bill) and the second (John) can throw the lines to him, while the third (Judy) handles the helm.  Turned out that there was a guy on the fuel dock to assist with the lines, but Bill stepped off with the spring lines and finished tying those off.  Smooth and simple process and we were back at anchor in Marigot Baie by 9 o’clock.

Another Amel owner came by our boat to check out our davits this morning, as he is planning to add davits to his boat.  He invited us over to see the modifications he has made on his Amel and we visited his boat late this afternoon.  It is nice to see what changes each person makes, as well as the slight changes that Amel made as the same model boat stayed in production longer.  So far we have been aboard Super Maramu 2000 hull numbers 299, 339 and 355; and ours is null number 387.  The boat we visited today is hull number 362.  He had Amel make a smaller dining table (a feature that we really liked) and a two-shelf spice rack in the wasted space behind the stove against the port side hull.  He also has the normal full-size dining table top that attached on top of the smaller table top for those rare occasions when there are six or more people dining.  The smaller table top is certainly sufficiently large enough to accommodate dining for four.  He stores the full-size table top in the forward hanging locker.  We would love to have this smaller table top, but it would involve sailing our boat to La Rochelle, France!  Don’t think that will be happening anytime soon.

Having the two-shelf spice rack is an interesting idea.  Judy would not want to put spices behind the stove because of the heat destroying the spices and the stickiness that would occur from cooking so close.  But that would work great for canned goods; utilize that wasted space and the heat or stickiness would not harm canned goods.  If we can get the finished pieces of wood from Amel shipped to Guadeloupe, that is something we would very much like to get. 

The owner of hull 362 also has made a large cutting board that fits over the countertop where the washing machine is located.  We also like this idea because it provides a large working space as well as preventing crumbs from falling down inside the washing machine space.  His cutting board had felt attached on the bottom edge rim to prevent marring the cabinet finish, but we would want the lower edge routed out to actually fit over the cabinet edge to allow a very sturdy placement of a cutting board/work surface.  The cutting board is stored on top of the closed pilot berth when sailing; this places it beneath the starboard cabinets in the saloon, a great storage area for a large flat item.  If we ever find the appropriate maple wood to make a cutting board like this, we would be very interested in having this built to our specs.  We certainly don’t have the tools aboard to do this type job ourselves.

Bill does not understand why Judy has such a difficult time climbing off the high docks down into the dinghy; he just jumps down and lands on one of the inflatable tubes and steps down inside the dinghy.  Judy usually sits down on the dock and scoots her butt off slowly and steps onto one of the tubes, making all movements slowly while holding onto something on the side of the dock (even if it is just the top edge of the dock). 

Well, this afternoon she got a big laugh when Bill fell out of the dinghy when we were boarding the other Amel.  Would have taken a photo but he was holding the camera in his hand at the time. (Yep, the waterproof one, luckily)   He wasn’t even standing up when this happened.  He was sitting on the tube where he normally sits to steer the outboard when a large wave rolled through (probably from a speeding ferry) and it literally just rolled him backwards into the water.  Thank goodness he didn’t lose his glasses this time (he has only fallen into the water once before years ago in the BVI and he lost his glasses that time).  But this quick little dip ruined the alarm decoder that was on the keychain in his pocket.  Luckily we had not set the alarm this time since we were just visiting a boat anchored so closely nearby, so we were able to re-board our boat with no screaming alarm siren.  And we have another alarm decoder onboard so this dunking won’t cause us any problems in that regard.  But we think we should order a few more decoders to have as spares.  You know these unexpected dives are going to happen again; can’t live on the water without getting wet sometimes.

We will soak the tiny circuit board in alcohol a few times and see if that helps the decoder that fell into the sea.  The light on the board flickers a bit when the activator is pressed, but we aren’t hopeful that it will work again.

All guests are gone; time for cleaning and laundry and getting our little boat home ship-shape again.

March 8, 2007  Thursday

We have rented a car for the day for final shopping excursions like Cost U Less and possibly the Match supermarket.  Hoping to stop for lunch at a place with WiFi and get this uploaded to the website.  The repaired bimini should be ready tomorrow and we hope to leave St. Martin tomorrow afternoon or early Saturday morning.  Loose plan is to go to St. Barths for a day or two and then passage to Antigua on Sunday or Monday, assuming the weather predictions remain the same for the next few days.  We have thoroughly enjoyed St. Martin and really are not ready to leave here, but we also want to spend about a month around Guadeloupe and the Saintes; so it is time to move on if we are going to make it to Grenada by June.

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