Friday, March 30, 2007


March 30, 2007  Friday
Pointe ‘a Pitre, Guadeloupe

Our boat has a new name.  She is now S/V BeBe.

BeBe stands for several things:
  1. Our granddaughter.  Elisabeth received the nickname of BB when she was only a month old.  Bill gave her this nickname and soon everyone was calling her BB.  We tell her that this stands for Beautiful Baby; but our family members know the true definition of that nickname.  Let’s just say that she was sometimes a difficult baby who wanted her own way and made disagreeable noises until she got what she wanted, and often all she wanted was simply to be left alone.  She has since outgrown that infant phase and now is a delightful little girl.  I started writing the nickname as BeBe, and it has stuck.  So, our boat is named after our five-year-old granddaughter.
  2. Big Boat.  Whenever we are in the dinghy or ashore, we always refer to the Amel as the big boat.
  3. Beautiful Boat.  Well, not really.  Bill thinks this boat is beautiful; I think it has sharp lines that look rather old-fashioned and that the orange boot stripe is not at all attractive (sort of UT color and Bill is an Aggie).  The interior is beautiful, but the exterior is not, IMHO.
  4. Baby in French.  Everyone knows that bebe is the French word for baby.  There are eight other US documented boats named Bebe but they are all quite small.  Our boat is by far the largest documented baby.

This name change was desirable because the name Security was causing too many hassles.  I have wanted to change the name for the past year but Bill wanted to keep Security.  After being in St. Thomas and hearing the incorrectly pronounced securite calls every single time a large ship entered Charlotte Amalie harbor or left the dock, Bill finally came to realize what a detriment our boat name could be.  So he agreed that we would change the name.  BeBe was his idea and I liked that name, so now it is a done deal.

We started this re-naming process two months ago while in St. Martin.  First we renewed our documentation under the name Security.  The old documentation had an expiration date that could have caused us problems had we decided to move from one island to another before the new docs arrived.  Once we had the documentation renewed under the old name, then we applied for documentation under the new name BeBe.  This cost only $84, but we did not know how long it would take to process the paperwork.  Turned out that it took only a couple of weeks.  The new Certificate of Documentation was mailed to our permanent mailing address in Houston (Trey’s and Kristina’s house).  Kristina sent the new docs to the computer repair guy who was working on our malfunctioning marine computer.  The computer guy then FedEx’d the repaired computer and the new boat docs and that package was waiting for us at the Amel office when we arrived here in Guadeloupe.  In the meantime, we were able to update online with the FCC for the ship’s station radio license and EPIRB registration.  There are no boat sign places on St. Martin, or on Guadeloupe; but we did locate one in Antigua.  So we had a laser cut boat name produced while we were in Antigua, and Bill applied it this week while we were docked at the marina in Guadeloupe.  Whew!  Another example of how a simple process takes more coordination and effort than it does back in the States where everything is so readily available and more efficient.

The folks at the Amel service office here in Guadeloupe have been a true delight to work with.  They are knowledgeable and nice and have had the materials for every job that we have requested.  The gel coat repair guy was very apologetic about the ever so slight color variance on one of the gel coat chip repairs.  He told us that the product that he uses is three years old because they can’t get any more shipped from France – “because of the Muslims,” he said, “we can’t put this on airplanes anymore.”  Hazardous material, you know.  Bill said that as many Amel yachts that are delivered to Guadeloupe (where most Americans accept delivery of their new boats), you would think that they could have added a few boxes of gel coat material and paints to a boat being delivered here.  My guess is that the new sales department and the service department at the Amel factory in La Rochelle don’t communicate with one another.  Or maybe the French government won’t let them put these “hazardous materials” aboard a private yacht.  There are seven older Amel boats on our dock.  We are the only American owners.  Most are French but two are from countries unknown to us and with names that we can’t begin to pronounce.  Obviously a popular place for Amels because of the service office located near this marina.

We haven’t yet gotten out of the marina/restaurant/shopping area here on Guadeloupe.  We have wanted to stay on the boat most of the time so that we would not miss meeting whatever worker needed to come aboard.  Bill wants to leave the marina on Monday, so he has reserved a rent car for the weekend and we plan to get out and see the island.  Neither of us is particularly interested in sailing to different anchorages and seeing just those areas within walking distance of each anchorage.  A rent car will allow us to wander all over.  After all it is an island; even if we can’t read the road signs, how lost can we get.

Guadeloupe is a very large island, shaped sort of like a butterfly.  Technically, it is two islands; because the two butterfly wings are separated by a river.  A shallow draft boat can actually navigate that river but our boat is much too deep to attempt it.  The western “wing” is very mountainous and is called Basse Terre and borders the Caribbean Sea.  The eastern “wing” is flatter and is called Grand Terre and borders the Atlantic Ocean.  The Riviere Salee passage separates these two islands.   Guadeloupe is a very beautiful island(s).

BTW, there is a young French family living on the 45-foot steel sloop berthed next to us.  The woman gave birth to their fifth child this week.  Can you imagine having five children under the age of seven living on a boat that small?  I cannot!  The mother and baby came home from the hospital last evening and there is a reception being held on our dock for the new baby this afternoon.  One of the little girls tried to give Bill an invitation this morning, but when he spoke to her in English then she got very shy and took back the invitation.  I’m sure she had no idea what he was saying to her because she doesn’t speak a word of English. 

There are additional children farther down the dock who often come to play with the kids next door.  It has been a different experience for us to listen to so many children playing and riding scooters and running about all day long.  Don’t know when these kids do their schooling.  But we have not made any negative looks or comments because we really do not want to be the old folks who complain about the neighbors’ children.  And, after all, these kids are just playing loudly; it isn’t like they are fighting or acting badly.  Just been awhile since we have been around so many young children.

Pierre and Ellen’s guests have arrived from France, so they sailed away today.  Hope to meet up with them somewhere along the way.  We do enjoy their company.

I went to Customs this morning to change the boat name on our clearance paperwork.  They told me to complete clearance paperwork as if we were leaving, even though we aren’t leaving yet.  So we are officially cleared out of Guadeloupe as of next Tuesday.  The French are so lax when it comes to official paperwork; what a difference from the Brits.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Whales all around us!

March 24, 2007  Saturday
Deshaies, Guadeloupe
16.18.479N; 61.47.836W            Sailed 44.7 NM

We were awake at 5 but decided to wait until at least partial daylight before leaving Falmouth Harbour.  Good thing we did because Bill knocked the boat hook overboard while he was dealing with raising the anchor.  I grabbed the shepherds hook and tossed it to him and he was able to pick up the boat hook from the big boat…the dinghy was on the davits and could not be used for this rescue.  We wouldn’t have been able to see well enough to do that little maneuver if it had happened in the darkness of 5 a.m.  Arrived in Deshaies at 12:30; average speed 6.4 kts

Seas were fairly heavy and we were heeled on a port tack at 15 to 35 degrees for the straight sail down to Guadeloupe.  Winds were 19-21 knots true; 20-25 knots apparent.  So it was a lively sail.  We didn’t trail a fishing line for most of the trip because there was too much motion for Bill to clean a fish if we had managed to catch one.  We did finally drop one line in the water for the last hour before arriving in Deshaies, but did not have a nibble.

But, boy!  Did we see whales!  It was really just too cool!!!

Bill was sitting on the low side (starboard) and I was lounging in the rear of the high side (port) of the cockpit.  I had just caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of what seemed to be something large going down in the water.  A few second later Bill said he saw spouting off to the starboard side.  Then he saw what appeared to be either a whale’s tail or a very large dorsal fin of a very large something.  Then he saw another one about 400 meters off the starboard side.

Suddenly I saw a whale’s tail extending 10 feet or higher from the surface of the waves – 50 feet directly in front of our bow!  That meant a whale was diving only a boat length in front of us.  I jumped into the helm seat and turned off the autopilot so I could hand steer, while Bill ran down the companionway to grab the camera.  I waited a few seconds to make sure that we had avoided colliding with the diving whale and then punched autopilot back on so I could stand up and move back in the cockpit to look all around for it. 

On the starboard side there was another whale only about 20-25 feet from our boat.  As sailors reading this log will know, the ocean becomes darker in color the greater the depth.  It appears clear here in the Caribbean until it is about 20-30 feet deep and then begins to assume an aquamarine color.  As it deepens, the color deepens to darker and darker blues.  By the time it is 300 feet deep, it appears to be a deep navy blue.  Eventually it appears almost black in color as the depth increases.  

This whale was swimming along the same path as our boat.  The water color all around the whale was midnight blue; but the water above the whale was a very light aquamarine color, which enhanced the blue-black whale beneath it.  Based on the color of the water above it, I estimate that this whale was 20-30 feet deep.  It was about the length of our boat, probably 45-50 feet.  Our boat is 53 feet long.  I instantly started a silent mantra of “Oh, God! Let it turn right!  Please; let it turn right!  Turn right!  Turn right!  Turn right!”

Within a flash the whale was gone.  Don’t know if it turned right or went to deeper depth.  But at least it did not turn left and raise up to strike our boat.  It was an incredible sight and I am sorry that Bill missed it.  By the time he came back up the companionway with the camera the whale was gone.  So we missed getting a photo of the neatest whale experience we have ever had.  Bill took a photo of the water where the whale had been!

Later we saw another pod of whales well off to the port side.  We saw 4 spouting and 3 diving and flipping their tails with those distinctive flukes out of the water.  They were huge.   But too far away to get any photos.  These are humpback whales.

So today we had a pod of whales to the left of us, another pod to the right of us, and one loner right in front of us.  Whales all around us.  Last time we saw a whale was between St. Martin and St. Barths in March 2005. 

A bit of info: 
  • Humpback whales come to this area of the Caribbean every winter to give birth.  They migrate thousands of miles from their northern grounds near New England off the coast of North America to the Dominican Republic and as far south as Bequia to calve, approximately 3000 miles round trip.  The longest humpback migration is one documented (through photo-identification) between the Antartic Peninsula and Central America, a one-way distance of over 5,000 miles.
  •  The mother stays in these waters with the new baby while the calf eats tons of food and grows several months.  The mother does not eat during this period.  In fact, female whales lose up to a third of their body weight during the nursing period which can last up to a year.  When the new calf is big enough, both the mother and calf head north together for the colder waters. 
  • Humpback whales have a unique coloration pattern on the underside of their tail flukes; no two whales are the same.  The mother tends to her calf while swimming upside down.  The whale that I saw beside our boat was swimming upside down so that I had a clear view of the coloration on the underside of her flukes.  (And the one that we saw dive right in front of our boat was likely her calf.)   
  • Photographs of these patterns allow scientists to identify and keep records of individual animals.  Based on this work, it has been estimated that there are nearly 12,000 humpback whales in the North Atlantic.  Approximately 900 of these are thought to be Gulf of Maine residents and some have been tracked since 1974.  Each Gulf of Maine whale also has a name inspired by its unique tail pigmentation and agreed upon by researchers and naturalists.  Over the years, four generations of Gulf of Maine humpback whales have been tracked by photo-identification techniques.  This research has greatly improved human understanding of humpback whale migration, habitat use, behaviors and anthropogenic impacts.   
  • Humpback whales belong to the family of baleen whales and are found in all oceans of the world.
  • Newborn humpbacks average 14 to 16 feet long and grow to 45 to 55 feet when adults.  Females tend to be larger than males.
  • Females reach sexual maturity at between five and ten years of age, and will calve every two to three years thereafter.
  • They can live to be 50 years old, possibly much longer.
  • This information was provided from an article authored by Nathalie Ward and published in the March 2007 issue of the Caribbean Compass.  Nathalie is the Director of the Eastern Caribbean Cetacean Network.

BTW, those who have been reading these logs will recognize that I have decided to switch grammar from third person to first person.  Don’t like using all the “I’s” but got tired of describing myself by name.  And everyone who knows us must have realized long ago that most of these logs are written by me.  Bill reads them and makes constructive comments, but he rarely writes a long entry.

Also, I just finished reading an old book that should be mandatory reading for all sailors.  It is titled “Adrift” by Steven Callahan.  It details his 76 days lost at sea in an inflatable raft after his sailboat sank back in 1982.  FWIW, EPIRBs are totally different now than the old technology used during his harrowing ordeal.  Great reading and heartily recommended.


March 25, 2007  Sunday
Pointe ’a Pitre, Guadeloupe
16.13.569N; 61.32.096W           
Sailed 52 NM, 12 hours, averaged only 4.3 knots boat speed due to high winds on our nose.

We decided not to bother with clearing in at Deshaies.  Got really lazy and didn’t want to take down the dinghy from the davits and move the outboard; just to have to put it all back up again so we could sail down to Pointe ‘a Pitre today.  Plus the wind was really howling through the harbor and we just didn’t want to get off our boat.  The sailing guide mentions that this particular area normally has high howling winds even when it is calm outside the harbor.

Anchor was up before clear daylight again today so we could get an early start.  Bill described it as “fancy driving” to get the anchor up and get out of that crowded anchorage without hitting another boat or dragging someone’s anchor line.  Another boat had come in late yesterday and anchored almost right in front of us. Tricky maneuvering with the helm and throttle was required while Bill was raising the anchor:  helm hard to starboard with high throttle as we approached the starboard side of that boat and Bill raised the anchor as fast as the windlass could handle it; then helm hard to port with high throttle (as soon as the anchor chain counter read 4 meters and I knew it was off the ground) so that it would swing our stern away from that boat; with both of us praying that our anchor would be high enough as we passed very closely in front of that boat so that we wouldn’t snag his anchor line.   We were so close to that boat that we could have stepped from our boat onto his!  But we didn’t touch him so that is all that counts!  As soon as our anchor was up then I lowered the bow thruster and made tight turns between boats that were anchored too closely together, and we exited Deshaies.  That little harbor got very crowded last night.

It was a lovely sail for about 18 miles down the western side of Guadeloupe.  At times we were only going 2 knots boat speed and we were very close to the land so we enjoyed sightseeing at all the little towns and villages along the way.  Winds would blow 20-25 knots and then stop altogether; so sometimes we would shoot from slow speeds to fast sailing speeds.  One time we went from 1 knot to 9 knots boat speed in just a few seconds.  It was fun.  And then the nasty weather arrived.  It quickly became a Force 7 moderate gale with wind blowing 33 knots; of course, right on our nose.  The remainder of the trip was awful; probably the worst sailing experience we have had to date.  Each time we changed course at the appropriate waypoints, the wind would change too; so it remained directly on our nose.  Our boat was either hobby-horsing directly into 8 ft rolling waves and 30+ knots wind or we were rolling side-to-side in the 8-ft rolling waves with the 30+ knots wind still directly on our nose.  A miserable time that lasted for hours as the high winds on our nose caused us to slow down to only 3 knots boat speed – and that is with a 100hp diesel engine.  We watched a catamaran forced to go back and forth north and south in order to progress easterly; obviously because his engines weren’t did have enough horsepower to go straight into the high winds.

Finally about one hour before we arrived at Pointe ‘a Pitre, the wind was at the correct angle for us to sail again.  Putting out the sails changed the motion entirely and we had a pleasant sail for the final hour.  We found that the area outside the marina where we are going tomorrow is no longer an anchorage as marked on our charts and in the sailing guide.  This area is now filled with mooring balls. 

Bill cut his fingers while securing our bridle line to the mooring ball painter.  We figured that no telling what was growing on that mooring ball painter, so I pulled out our fancy-dancy medical kit for the first time since we moved aboard.  Simple clean-up and antibiotic ointment and fingertip bandages.  Thanks again to Donna for helping us with this medical kit.

Hoping that this nasty weather passes quickly.  A gray and dim Caribbean is not our idea of paradise.

March 26, 2007  Monday

Now all legally cleared in and berthed at Marina Bas Du Fort for about a week or so.  They didn’t even look at our passports!  Just asked us to write down the passport numbers on a form and that was it.  This harbor is hot as blazes!  Lots of wind outside this harbor, but deathly still in here.  And we are seeing mosquitoes for the first time since leaving Bonaire last November.

After searching two chandleries we finally found the correct fitting to allow us to plug into shore power.  We have several 220 adapters on board because every country seems to have a different plug configuration, but none of the ones we had would work here in Guadeloupe.  That’s a relief because it would have been unbearable without air conditioning and having to leave the hatches open for all the mosquitoes to fill our bedroom tonight.

This marina is only 40.17 Euro per day, including electricity and water.  That is less than $55 USD per day.  In the BVI and in the USVI, we had to pay $1.25 per foot per day plus commercial electrical rates.  One day in the marina at Red Hook cost us approximately $125, because the electricity rates were exorbitant.  This marina seems like a true bargain when compared to The Virgins.

Shortly after we docked, our friends (Pierre and Ellen on S/V Lady Annabelle) arrived and were berthed on this same dock.  They are from Nice, France, and we had met them in Trinidad last summer; we headed west and they headed north.  We ran into them again in St. Martin.  They had just left Antigua and were headed to the BVI.  We had just left the BVI and were headed to Antigua, so our paths crossed.  And now we meet again in Guadeloupe.  Pierre and Ellen plan to go through the Panama Canal next spring, about the same time that we will be there.  So we hope to continue to meet up them off and on all the way through the South Pacific.

Pierre said he had to purchase an electrical adapter in the BVI, just like we had to buy one here.  (Pierre and Ellen are from France so his boat had no American adapters like those used in the BVI.)  Pierre had to pay $125 USD for that silly adapter.  We paid only 9 Euro here, about $12 USD for the same thing.  You can see how overpriced the BVI has become and why most cruisers avoid that area.  The reason we had to buy another adapter is because this marina has the standard USA plug for 220v, except that it is wired for only 110v.  So, obviously, our standard 220v plug would not work – and no one from the USA will have a 110v plug in that 220v configuration, so this marina is really wired strangely!   

We went out to dinner tonight with Pierre and Ellen and another American couple who had also been in Trinidad last summer.  Food was delicious, as one would expect on a French island.  It was nice to have people at the table who spoke French because the restaurant staff did not speak any English.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Done with Antigua for this time.

March 23, 2007  Friday
Leaving Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Today we cleared out of Antigua.  Our plans are to leave about 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning for the 45 mile passage to Deshaies, Guadeloupe.  We have reservations at a marina in Point’a’Pitre starting Monday.  This marina is directly adjacent to the Amel factory service office and we want the boat checked out.  We don’t know of anything wrong but would like several gel coat chips repaired with the correct factory colors and also have a few small things on the boat looked at. 

We took a couple of photos today of two mega-yachts that we saw here in Falmouth Harbour.  One was a huge sailboat leaving the harbor and the other is an enormous motor yacht that is docked at the Falmouth Harbour Marina.  This boat has every toy imaginable on her.  Click on the photo below and check it out.

We walked around a bit this afternoon sightseeing; visited Nelson’s Dockyard once again; bought lots of the freshest locally grown vegetables; returned to the boat and got everything ready for an early start tomorrow morning.

We have enjoyed our week in Antigua but are ready to move onward.

Note May 28, 2013:  We ran into that same enormous blue motor yacht with all the toys, including the approximately 50-ft sailboat, in Marmaris Turkey in 2011.  

Sorry, no photos yet.  Will eventually try to get around to adding the old photos from the previous website.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Nelson Dockyard

March 18, 2007  Sunday
Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
17.00.784N; 61.46.609W            Sailed 22NM

Five Islands Harbour was so nice that we stayed anchored there for 2 nights.  Especially nice that we have free WiFi broadband from the new resort hotel there.  Never did find out the name of the place but it looked like a great place to honeymoon.  The bay is over one mile wide and two miles long.  On Friday we were the only boat anchored in the entire bay and we loved the solitude.  On Saturday a very large crewed sailboat arrived – and anchored practically right on top of us.  They could have anchored anywhere in that large bay; don’t know why they felt the need to be 20 feet from our stern and looking down into our cockpit.  Herd mentality, we guess.  Later a few more boats arrived and spread their anchoring around the bay a bit.  So much for our solitude.

Also on Saturday the sky was very hazy and there was some sort of ash blowing in the breeze.  We had to close all the hatches as it was getting on our Ultrasuede upholstery inside the boat and creating a mess.  Judy vacuumed up all the stray bits of black ash and then we put the mosquito nets up so that we could open a few hatches for ventilation.  We don’t think this ash was coming from the volcano on Montserrat because the wind was coming from the SE and Montserrat is west of Antigua.  Plus this ash was black and volcanic ash should have been white or light gray.  Anyway, it was messy and lasted most of the day.

This morning the sky was clearer, but still a little hazy.  We decided to move to English Harbour so that we can visit the Nelson Dockyard tomorrow.  It was a wonderful fast sail doing 8 to 8 ½ knots for about halfway; then a motor directly into 20 knot winds and rough seas for the last half. 

Antigua is not our favorite place for sailing.  There are too many spots that are only 2.7 meters deep and our draft is 2.05 meters.  You can be kicking along in 10 meters of water and suddenly it is 2.7 meters!  Judy does not like that at all and even Bill gets a bit of pucker affect when the depth gauge suddenly reads zero.  Our depth gauge reads in meters, not feet; and is set to display actual depth under keel, not the depth from water surface.  So when it reads zero, it does mean that there is something less than one meter water under our keel.  When that happens it is very disconcerting!  So we sailed out away from the island to get into somewhat safer water depths. 

The seas on the southern side of the island are quite rough.  Just not a good sailing area.  We entered English Harbour and looked around for about 30 seconds before deciding that it was way too crowded for our comfort level.  Looked like a number of boats were on permanent moorings or permanent anchors.  So we turned right back out and backtracked over to Falmouth Harbour.

We found the perfect anchoring spot just inside the second green marker on the channel to the right side of Falmouth Harbour.  Anchoring this far out means a longer dinghy ride to shore, but that is fine with us.  In fact, it is even preferred by us.  Would rather have a longer ride to shore than to be anchored up closer and more crowded. 

Bill stood on the bow and put a buoy over our anchor while Judy lowered the anchor from the helm.  This buoy serves two purposes: it floats over our anchor and marks where the anchor is actually set, and it also can act as a trip line in case we encounter problems raising the anchor when it is time to leave.   Pierre on S/V Lady Annabelle told us how his anchor was fouled in Falmouth Harbour by old chain when he was here in January.  Pierre had to hire a diver at a cost of $100 USD to get his anchor clear.  So, putting a trip line is a good idea.  Who knows how much crap is at the bottom of this harbor.  After all, the British Navy was using this harbor as a hurricane hole as far back as the 1700s.  No telling what kind of stuff has been abandoned underwater over the past 300 years.

March 19, 2007  Monday
Today we visited the Nelson Dockyard.  We left the dinghy at the Cataraman Club Marina dinghy dock and were waiting on the main road for a bus when a very nice local man offered us a ride to the Dockyard.  He said the buses don’t run regularly and we might have had to wait an hour or more.  So he saved us the price of a private taxi.  Much later in the day we found out that if we leave the dinghy at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina then it is just a very short walk over to English Harbor and the Dockyard.  There are three little marinas here in Falmouth Harbour, two of which cater to the mega-yachts.  There are some huge sailboats and motor yachts here.

Which brings up something that has become an annoyance to Judy.  These red anchor lights that the large sailboats are using are just wrong, wrong, wrong.  Lights on all vessels are regulated internationally by COLREGS.  Absolutely nothing in COLREGS states that a vessel can use an all-round red as an anchor light; it is supposed to be an all-round white light.  There are other requirements for vessels 20 meters and longer to have an all-round red (or two) for other reasons, but the anchor light is always supposed to be white.  There are obvious reasons for the need for uniformity in lighting.  For example, there are many harbors that have red lights placed on land that vessels entering harbors at night must line up with in order to follow the correct entry channel.  This is true for English Harbour.  There are three red lights going up the mountainside that an entering vessel lines up with at they approach the very tricky entrance to that harbor.  Well, when there are large boats anchored in the harbor displaying these silly red anchor lights then it becomes impossible to find the correct three red lights to ensure safe entry.  These red anchor lights are dangerous and this practice needs to be stopped before it gains any further in popularity.

Nelson’s Dockyard was interesting to us, especially since we have been reading Patrick O’Brian’s 21 book series about Capt Jack Aubrey during that period of British Naval history.  (Judy is now on the final book and will miss this series; wish it continued further)   The British began to use English Harbour as a hurricane haven as far back as 1671.  They began to use it as a Naval Dockyard in 1725.  Captain Nelson was made temporary Commander of the Leeward Islands Station for the period of 1784-1787, but the Dockyard was actually established in 1743 by Commodore Charles Knowles and it remained in use until the Royal Navy closed it in 1889.  In 1951 the jFriends of English Harbour formed a mission to reconstruct the Dockyard and it reopened in 1961.  Now it is part of the Antigua and Barbuda National Parks Authority.  This is the only Georgian Naval Dockyard in the world today.

Sunsail has a charter base located right in the Dockyard.  They only had three boats docked there, so it is an exceptionally tiny charter base, but in a very unique location.  And an expensive location.  Sales tax is 15% here in Antigua, and that is in addition to the duty already added into the price of everything.  There were a couple of restaurants in the Dockyard.  We found that the least expensive place for lunch was the bakery located behind the museum.  So we bought a couple of burgers and drinks at the bakery and sat at a park bench and enjoyed the beautiful setting under an enormous ancient tree amongst the old stone buildings.

We walked around the quay and admired the gorgeous large sailboats moored there, each one with a crew dutifully detailing those lovely boats.  Watched one 50-ft sailboat trying to extricate his fouled anchor when he unmoored from the quay.  Guess he didn’t want to spend the $100 to have the diver retrieve his fouled anchor.  He turned circles while letting out chain and taking in chain, and it appeared that eventually he did manage to get the anchor free.  

Then we took a taxi up the hill to the Interpretation Center.  The guidebook recommended the multi-media video about the history of Antigua that is shown there.  The guidebook also says that it would be a 15 minute walk up the hill to the Interpretation Center.  Yeah; right!  That taxi was worth every cent of his fee.   If we had attempted this walk then we would have turned around after going less than 25% of the distance.   The video presentation was okay but the real reason to go up there is the view.  It does give a different perspective of English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour, as well as Indian Creek and Mamoa Bay and a some of the eastern side of Antigua.

We were curious as to what the depth of the entrance of English Harbour was back in the 1700s, but the tour guide did not have that information.  The entrance depth is 3 ½ - 4 ½ meters, and those old frigates and men-of-wars could not have negotiated that shallow.   The harbor entrance was guarded by Fort Berkeley on the western side and Fort Charlotte on the eastern side.  Fort Charlotte was destroyed in 1843 in an earthquake and it appears the submerged ruins of Fort Charlotte and silting resulting from storms over the past several centuries have filled in the harbor entrance.   It must have been deeper 300 years ago or those old ships could never have entered this harbor.

Late in the afternoon we took the dinghy over to the Antigua Yacht Club Marina because we wanted to visit a store that will embroider hats and shirts with our boat name.  Found the type caps we like and Judy found a couple of sleeveless polo shirts in her size, but the woman who operates the embroidery machine wasn’t working today, so we have go return there on Wednesday morning to select fonts and thread colors.  Hope she doesn’t have a backlog of work to be done so that she can whip this small job out for us in short order.

Last night we treated ourselves to a nice dinner in a nice restaurant – the Antigua Yacht Club Marina restaurant.  The upstairs is supposed to be private, members only, according to our sailing guide; but this is not true.  We were seated in a choice location and there was a pretty view.  The restaurant was well decorated and typical Caribbean open-air to enjoy the evening and the scenery.  We each had seven pieces of beautifully presented sushi and one glass of Grey Goose on-the-rocks, and the tab including gratuity was $100 USD.   In Houston at the nicest sushi restaurant this meal would have cost $65-$70 including tip; so you can see that Antigua is a bit on the expensive side but not totally exorbitant.  It was a lovely evening.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Off to Antigua

March 14, 2007  Wednesday
Jolly Harbour, Antigua
17.04.555N; 061.53.742W           Sailed 75NM

Anchor was up at 4:00 a.m. today in St. Barths and we arrived in Antigua at 4:00 p.m.; average speed 6.25 knots in drizzly rain and heavy clouds, but very calm seas.  The sun shone for a whopping one hour today.  This is most unusual for the Caribbean; usually rainstorms move though quickly.  This must be a large weather front because it encompasses a large portion of the Leewards and has made for a very gray day. 

Winds were from 15 knots from ENE 050 so we enjoyed a beautiful sail for the first six hours.  Then the wind stopped totally for about half-hour.  When it started again, the wind was from SSW 185 – practically on our nose.  So we had to motor the last six hours.

Caught one fish.  As Bill was pulling it in, a larger fish bit our baited fish in half just behind the gills. All Bill hauled out of the water was a fish head attached to our hook.  Hard to identify a fish from just its head, but it possibly was a mackerel. 

Had another one of those odd coincidences at sea today.  We cross paths with another sailboat heading from Antigua to St. Barths on exactly the opposite course of us.  We passed within 75 meters of one another, so it was easy to read the name on that boat’s stern.  It was S/V Wasabi!   Wasabi was berthed at the same marina with us down in Trinidad last summer.  This is the boat that had 2 sisters aboard who decided one night that they would leave with a Moorings delivery crew headed to the Panama Canal on a delivery to La Paz, Mexico.  It was a spur-of-the-moment decision and left the owner aboard all by himself.  We hailed Wasabi on the VHF radio and spoke with the newest woman now sailing with the owner.  They were on their way to St. Barths for a few days and then on to Anguilla for the Jimmy Buffet concert to be played there on March 26.  This will be a small venue concert, with only 3500 tickets.  We thought about going to that concert but decided that we had seen Buffet so many times already that it just wasn’t worth the $108 per ticket plus the exorbitant costs of clearing in at Anguilla.  What a coincidence to sail so close on opposite paths to a boat we haven’t seen since September. 

March 15, 2007  Thursday
Jolly Harbour, Antigua

We chose Jolly Harbour for our port of entry for Antigua for several reasons. 

  1. We had no interest in visiting St. Johns, the major port of entry.  We were last there about 20 years ago and didn’t particularly care for the large city.
  2. Jolly Harbour is a small port so clearing in should be less crowded and likely with easier access to the official offices.
  3. The other 2 ports of entry are Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour, from which we will depart when it is time to move on to Guadeloupe; so didn’t want to start there on the southernmost part of Antigua.
  4. Jolly Harbour is touted to be the safest harbor in the Caribbean for storms.  It is tucked away with a couple of dog-legs behind land so it is really protected from the seas.  Plus it is on the western side of the island, which puts it well away from the “dirty side” of a hurricane coming off the Atlantic.  Our insurance company allows boats to be stored in Jolly Harbour during hurricane season for a 10% surcharge.  We don’t plan to ever do this, but we wanted to check it out just for future knowledge.

Well, reason number 2 is definitely not true!  We arrived at the Immigration office in Jolly Harbour before 9:00 this morning.  Bill walked to the nearest commercial area in search of an ATM to get some local currency (EC) while Judy stood in line waiting to clear in.  Judy is listed as captain or master of the boat, so she is the one required to visit the official offices.  There were 4 people (appeared to be all one group) inside at the counter of the Immigration office.  There were 3 more people waiting outside, all of whom had obtained the clearance forms from the officer inside the Immigration office so that their paperwork would be ready when it was their turn to see the officer.  Judy stepped inside and requested the clearance forms for this same reason, but the officer told her that she would have to wait outside and refused to give her the forms.  Off to a good start!

Four more people arrived and got in line behind Judy.  She waited there for about an hour and not one person had come out of the Immigration office.  Oh, this officer is S-L-O-W!  Bill returned with the news that the ATM machine states that it will work only with ATM cards issued by local banks.  Since we didn’t have EC currency and since the line wasn’t progressing at all, we decided to leave.  It was too darned hot to wait outside so long.  We dinghied down to the commercial area and found a local bank, where we exchanged US cash for EC currency. 

The bank was celebrating its birthday and they served us some tasty punch and a small plate of snacks.  Well, these snacks were way different from one would receive from any business back in the states celebrating its birthday.  In the states you would get a piece of cake or a few cookies with the punch or fruit juice.    Here we were served pomello juice (tastes like sweet grapefruit and is red) and our snack plate consisted of:  tiny piece of fried fish, tiny baked meat pie (like a miniature empanada), a dry meatball strongly flavored with sage, and a miniature cherry turnover.

We also checked with an internet café in attempt to find the prepaid cards required for WiFi service so we can have internet access on the boat while in Antigua.  The clerk said we would have to go all the way to St. Johns in order to purchase the prepaid cards.  Well, that is definitely not going to happen!  Also found out that to use this internet café would cost $15 USD per hour!  And that also is definitely not going to happen! 

Then we dinghied back to the Immigration office to again attempt clearing in.  There were still 2 people waiting, filling out their forms outside the office.  We entered and the officer told us to stand at the counter and complete the forms (6 copies).  Took him about 40 minutes to clear us in!!!!  Have no idea what was taking him so long to read and process these standard forms.  Then we walked to the Customs office next door.  That took another 10 minutes.  Then we went to the Port Authority office next door to obtain our cruising permit; another 15 minutes and 40 EC.  Nice that all three office are in one complex.  We were finally finished at 11:55. 

Three hours to clear into this place!  And this is the “simple and easy” port of entry for Antigua.   OTOH, Jolly Harbour is very nice if somewhat expensive.  We checked out a few restaurant menus and decided that they are out of our normal price range.  Good thing we don’t plan to stay here very long.

When we returned to the boat we sent an email via our satellite phone to the WiFi company in St. Johns asking where and how we can purchase WiFi access.  It is now 6:00 p.m. and still no answer to our email inquiry.  We are receiving a strong WiFi signal for this company where we are currently anchored; just can’t seem to buy their service.

March 16, 2007 Friday
Five Island Harbour, Antigua
17.05.290N; 61.53.857W            Motored 2 NM

Whenever we do laundry we also make more water.  Since the generator is required to operate the washing machine we always try to find another job to also use the generator, and that job is usually to make more water.  Seems logical to us.  The water in the anchorage at Jolly Harbour was full of silt because the depth is so shallow and over sandy bottom.   We did not want to foul our watermaker pre-filter membranes, so we moved to the next harbor which is considerably deeper and no silt.
The sailing guide states that there is a garbage dump at the head of Five Island Harbour.  We figured we could always just move back to Jolly Harbour before dusk if the garbage dump was a problem to us.  This sailing guide was published in 2005 and it is usually accurate.  Not this time.  There is no garbage dump at the head of Five Island Harbour.  But there is a very nice resort hotel built on Hermitage Bay beach tucked in on the southeast side.  We are the only boat in the entire harbor and the view is gorgeous.

We had a bit of good news today.  We had purchased 1800 minutes of air time from Globalstar before we moved aboard last year.  But we haven’t been able to obtain and retain a signal from Globalstar long enough to use very many of those minutes.  To make up to us for their poor signal, Globalstar gave us an additional 700 minutes several months ago --- isn’t that great; can’t use the phone so they give us even more minutes that we can’t use.  So as of today we still had a total of 1700 minutes, which expire on April 16, 2007.  Today Bill contacted Globalstar and they agreed that their service has been inadequate for the past year.  They claim that new satellites will be put into use very soon.  And, this is the good news, they agreed to extend the expiration date for our 1700 minutes until December 31, 2007.  So now we have until the end of the year to use up these prepaid minutes.  Sounds good to us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Finally left St. Martin and returned to one of our long time favorite islands - St. Barths

March 12, 2007 Monday
Gustavia, St. Barths
17.54.33N; 62.51.54W

Happy Birthday to Aaron.  Although his birthday will be long past by the time this log is updated to our website.  Our younger son is now 32 years old.  In a similar vein as we pointed out to his brother on his last birthday, Aaron is now only 18 years from being 50.  Out of high school only 14 years and still only 18 years from the age of 50.  Life goes by quickly, so enjoy it every day.

It was a busy weekend since we updated the website last Thursday.  We did rent a car last Thursday and did another major provisioning at Cost U Less on the Dutch side of St. Martin and at Match Supermarche in Marigot on the French side.  Stopped at Ric’s for a final Tex-Mex lunch of enchiladas and updated the website while there.  Then we drove around on the northwest tip of St. Martin.  This is a part of the island that we have never before seen on land and it was good to see a new area.  Lots of condo construction going on over in that area, and some exceptionally nice homes/villas being built by people with lots and lots of money---most palatial.  It was fun driving around in a car for a change.

When we were loading all our stuff at the dinghy dock we were right next to the tender for Mirabella V.  They had about a half-dozen crew breaking down boxes and crates of produce and provisions and loading the food into huge baskets in the tender – no cardboard was going onto that luxury yacht.  For the novices, it is a terrible idea to ever bring any cardboard box or any crated produce onto a boat; that is how insects (primarily roaches) find their way onto your boat.  Mirabella V is the largest sloop in the world.  She arrived in Marigot yesterday and is provisioning for her upcoming Atlantic crossing, planning to depart next week for the Med.

We saw the Maltese Falcon a week or two ago on the Dutch side.  She is the largest privately owned sailboat in the world; 289 feet long, square rigged, mast height about 300 feet, and extremely UGLY.  Those electronically operated square rigged sails look like huge window shades.  And there is some kind of truly ugly electronic tower on deck near the bow.  Just a truly ugly boat.  OTOH, Mirabella V is the largest sloop rigged sailboat in the world; and she is gorgeous.  Hard to get a true prospective of her size until you get fairly close to her.  From a distance you can easily see that her mast is 2 to 2 ½ times the height of all the other sailboats in the harbor; but you aren’t impressed with her true size until you get closer to her.  We sailed past her stern on our way out of Marigot Baie today, maybe our photo will illustrate her true size.

After a lobster pizza dinner Thursday night in Marigot then we drove over to Grand Case, just for the heck of it since we had the car rented until 8:30 a.m. Friday.  There were camouflaged soldiers carrying automatic weapons stationed all over the place.  Then on Friday we noticed more soldiers in camo with arms going around the harbor with the Gendarmerie.  We had no idea what was going on; we don’t speak French so the newspapers and local radio news mean nothing to us. 

Friday was bimini day.  We spent the entire day waiting to hear from the bimini shop to notify us to come pick up the repaired bimini.  Bill finally went over to the shop in the late afternoon and waited for them to complete the job.  They finished this repair job about 7:00 p.m.  But Bill was entertained the entire time because there were about 20 soldiers “guarding the bridge” and their commander was sitting on the patio of the bimini repair shop visiting with Bill.  He learned that this was a joint military exercise consisting of French, Dutch, Venezuelan and Colombian forces.  At one point their bridge guarding duty was declared over and the commander walked away and left his automatic weapon lying on the table near Bill.  Well, o-k-a-a-y; now doesn’t that seem just really efficient and military like.  Bill brought it to him as they were loading up to leave the area.  We would love to have a weapon like this for whenever we are in really dangerous areas but Bill didn’t think it would be very smart to keep the commander’s weapon.

Saturday morning we installed the repaired bimini and put up the extension.  We planned to clear out and go to St. Baths for a few days on our way to Antigua.  Well, good plans oft go astray.  Our computer would not work.  We have experienced video driver problems every so often since purchasing this computer and also every single time we perform Windows updates.  Now the darn this would not boot at all.  Bill contacted the vendor and received some instructions to attempt repair; nothing worked.  So, Bill pulled out his laptop and starting setting it up so that we could use it for our passage to Antigua.  We already had Maxsea loaded on the laptop, and all the charts are duplicated on an external hard drive; so that wasn’t a problem.  But the Airmail 3 program and the software for the Globalstar satellite phone and for the Pactor modem was not loaded on the laptop; and we need at least one of those (preferably the Pactor modem) in order to receive weather updates and email. 

Bill spent most of the day working on computer stuff.  Then we made a made dash to the Business Point to ship the broken computer back to the states for repair.  True to our luck for this day, they did not have the correct FedEx forms on hand.  This meant that we had to cancel our plans to leave for St. Barths over the weekend and wait until FedEx opened on Monday morning. 

Early Monday morning we were waiting at the door for FedEx to open (and found that they don’t open until 9:00 a.m. here --- what a way to run a business!).  Then we cleared out with customs and had a pleasant, calm motor over to St. Barths – with the wind directly on our nose the entire trip.

Tonight we went to Le Select for the traditional cheeseburger in paradise.  That has really changed over the years.  The first time we went to Le Select was back in the mid-1980s.  A hamburger cost $10 and nothing came with it or on it – just ketchup and mustard.  Le Select courtyard is now twice the size and a cheeseburger cost only 4.50 Euro, with a large order of fries for only 2.50 Euro. 

We had a great evening drinking beer and vodka and listing to loud rock music, then walking around Gustavia and window shopping.  The French know how to live.  Learned that Jimmy Buffet had done an impromptu jam session at a local bar last week.  Guess we missed seeing him on St. Barths this trip.

March 13, 2007  Tuesday

We walked all over Gustavia and reminisced about previous visits here.  This has always been one of our favorite places for vacations.  We used to stay at the Filao Beach Hotel on Baie St. Jean.  The last time we stayed here in a villa on a mountainside overlooking Baie St. Jean; that was about 15 years ago.  We have visited St. Barths a few times via boat since then, but we have very fond memories of our hotel and villa vacations here on this wonderful French island. 

There are many more designer clothing stores here than in the old days.  A little disappointment this time is that Lulu’s Marine is no longer a marine shop.  It is just another clothing store now.  And Le Select is much more commercialized these days than it was 20 years ago, but still a must-see if you visit this island.

We visited a small food store right on the quay of the harbor.  Obviously this store owner caters to the mega-yacht business.  He stocked every expensive food item that they might want, including truffles at 109 Euro for a tiny can and only the best champagnes.  Way out of our price range for those food and beverage items.

BTW, if any cruiser is thinking of stopping in St. Barths and not bothering to clear in with Customs then you need to be aware that the Port Captain writes down the name of every boat anchored in or around Gustavia each day.  He has posted a list in the Customs office of boats that have anchored and have not properly cleared in.  This list includes the boat name and the date that they were anchored in St. Barths.  The title of this list is worded something like “Boats to Retain.”  So it is not a good idea to visit St. Barths and not properly clear in.  It only costs 8 Euro and is a simple process.

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.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Heineken Regatta

March 2, 2007 Friday
Marigot Baie, St. Martin

The annual Heineken Regatta is in progress around St. Martin.  The spinnaker races were held yesterday and probably were beautiful with hundreds of colorful sails; but we opted not to go to the Dutch side of the island to watch, so we missed out on that sight.  To move the big boat, it would have required clearing out with Customs on the French side and then clearing in with Customs on the Dutch side and simply did not seem worth the trouble just to watch a few hundred boats racing with spinnakers.  You can go back and forth all you want in a dinghy or a car, but must officially clear in and out with the big boat.  We would have “chanced” doing this without clearing in and out except that last week we watched the Dutch customs confiscate a large catamaran inside Simpson Lagoon – we assume it was confiscated because the boat had not properly cleared in Customs and was therefore illegally in the Dutch waters.

Late yesterday afternoon the Gendarme (French police) were out in a small boat in the anchorage here at Marigot Baie.  They visited our boat while we were enjoying our afternoon wine and cheese, and informed us that we could not stay anchored in that location because the Heineken Regatta was scheduled to be in this location on Saturday.  The race boats will fill over the anchorage so all the rest of us must move.  So this morning we moved over to the eastern side of the bay, along with about a dozen other boats.   All boats anchored in the normal anchorage area must move by tomorrow morning, so most of us moved today.

We also finally broke down and purchased a week of WiFi time this morning.  The main WiFi company sells time at ridiculous rates.  They charge 7 Euro for 24 hours but only allow you to actually connect for one hour during that 24 hour period.  Or, they charge 28 Euro for one week but only allow you to connect for 4 hours during that one week period.  But today we found a WiFi site that charges for $40 USD for one week; they do not mention any limitation of hours during that one week.  So we sprang for the 40 bucks.  And, man, is this connection S-L-O-W.  But what the hey; at least we are connected again.   And John will be happier because now he can connect with his normal AOL accounts. 

The Heineken Regatta sailed past this anchorage a few hours earlier.    It was pretty watching at least 300 boats sail past, many with those mylar or laminate sails.  Maybe they are sailing around the island today.  We have no idea of the schedule or routes for these races.  There were a bunch of jeeps and small cars parked along the beach road.  These people are apparently following the race boats as they sail around the island.  And there will be parties galore each night.  Definitely not our cup of tea.

We are probably boring John to death.  We have done absolutely nothing but read and take naps and laze about on the boat.  We have managed to get off the boat at least once each day, but haven’t really done anything.  This is definitely a restful vacation for John.