We escaped out of Simpson Bay Lagoon behind the mega-yacht Apogee through the Dutch Bridge. You gotta go fast through this bridge or the bridge operator starts yelling at you over the VHF: “Close the gap up, this isn’t a funeral procession!”
The Simpson Lagoon, St. Martin, is one of those cruising boat locations that is very sticky. Boats come in here for a short visit and just never leave. It’s easy living, tons of anchoring space, lots of places to fix the boat yet again, plenty of friendly restaurant/bar/internet cafes catering to the cruising crowd, and really no reason to leave till hurricane season. A short visit is nice – otherwise its not for us.
We sailed on a short trip off to Isle Fourchue, an empty island off St. Barths. Empty, so we didn’t have to check in and deal with customs/immigration. Got in a nice snorkel – saw a turtle, school of barracuda, octopus and small nurse shark. Also saw one of the engines that fell out of the catamaran that is wrecked on the beach. More reason for Tony and Shannon to refurbish it.
Next day was a great sail to Ballast Bay, St. Kitts. 15-18kts of wind with a small swell. We anchored in Ballast Bay intending to stay overnight and move on – without checking in. This morning we got up and sailed past the tip of St Kitts and down the leeward side of Nevis on our way to Montserrat. As we got near the south end of Nevis and the shadow of the volcano stopped blocking the wind things began to pickup. We beat into the ESE winds for about an hour telling ourselves that it would lighten up once we got good and clear of the island. Of course, it didn’t. We ended up beating into 25-35 kts winds and the seas were growing. We both looked at each other and said “naw” to another 6-7 hours of this. We turned around headed back to Nevis. It was a pretty rambunctious trip back, surfing off the waves at 10 kts. There was light rain blowing through the cockpit, getting us wet. I was pretty cold when we finally got tied up to the mooring. Went below and the cabin temp was 78*F, so we decided to have some hot soup to warm us up and take the chill off.
Our mooring is under the lee of the island’s volcano. Since this was technically our second day in Kitts/Nevis and the Charlestown port authority drives around in a boat to check their mooring, we decided we better drop the dink in the water and jump through the check-in hoops. If we wanted to check in and check out at the same time, customs would only allow us 24 hours. So we took that and headed to immigration. A few more passport stamps and we were off to the Port Authority office. We knew about the $54EC (Eastern Caribbean dollars) charge (US$23) for 1-3 days on the mooring. But, he also came up with a $50EC harbor fee and an $8EC environmental fee. I went into complete whine mode, complaining that we were only their one night and that a harbor fee and mooring fee wasn’t fair. The port officer got tired of my whining and settled for the mooring fee only. I wasn’t sure if Chris was happy that we got the fees down to something reasonable or if she was embarrassed that her man was such a whiner.