We’ve spent the last two weeks hanging in Simpson Bay Lagoon on the island of St Martin. This is the island that is half Dutch and half French. The large, navigable lagoon is also divided between the Dutch and the French. The causeway bridge above is on the Dutch side. The lighting on the bridge is a trip. The horizontal and vertical lights change color and pattern about every 3 minutes at night. Chris gets pretty excited when the lights go all rainbow on her.
The lights on the bridge are working really well. The bridge itself is having a few difficulties opening. It is currently restricted to two test openings a day. For a few days there it was closed all day. That makes it difficult for the boats anchored on the French side to exit via the Dutch side. The good news is that bridge is still under warranty. It is free to anchor on the French side, but the crime rate is higher – dinghy and minor thefts – than the on the Dutch side. Plus the dinghy ride into shops and businesses is longer. On the Dutch side we pay $40 a week to anchor (over 13m, under 13m and it is $20 a week). Not too bad. Plus a bridge use fee of $21.
We had planned to be in St Martin for 3 or 4 days – so 2 weeks is about right. We got a lot of small boat projects out of the way. You can get pretty much get anything you need in St Martin. Two big chandleries, a great rigging shop, sailmakers, and 4 or 5 great grocery stores that are accessible by dinghy and, most important, have fresh baguettes and croissants daily.
Above is Arthur and Naio(sp) from FKG rigging. This is the largest rigging shop I’ve ever seen. They do rigging for the mega-yacht sailboats. They have a huge machine shop and do Navtec rod rigging heading. We had the riggers come out and do a basic rig check and then had the rig tuned. The only way I’ve ever seen the rig is the way it was setup when we bought the boat in Cape Breton. The stays and shrouds always seemed a bit loose to me. I wanted to get a good rigger to tune it so I’d have a good reference point in the future. Well the rig is a LOT tighter now than before. They took up the upper and lower shrouds a fair amount and then put a lot pressure on the back stay. The stiff mast now has a significant bend back at the top. It will be interesting to sail her in the tradewinds now with this rig tension. The boat should point a little higher (i.e. closer to the wind) with the stiffer mast and tighter forestays. While the riggers were running up and down the mast I had them move the blocks for the lazy-jacks (line system that captures the main sail when it comes down) up higher on the mast. This puts them at a better angle to capture the sail and hold up the stack pack sail cover.
Another project to get done was to fix the boom vang’s gooseneck. The pin was loose and was making a clanking, incredibly loud annoying noise whenever we were sailing downwind. I took the fitting into Peter at EMSC machine shop (behind Lagoonies bar). He cut off the tube portion of the fitting, which had actually been bent by the pin movement, and welded on a larger one and put in a delrin bearing. She fits tight now. I had him straighten a stanchion that bent in a wild mainsail gybe on our trip down from Virginia too.
Torbin and Judy from Tivoli showed up yesterday. They are here to get new rod rigging, bottom paint and knock off a long list of little items before they start a trans-Atlantic passage to the Azores and then Ireland. We went out to the St Martin Yacht Club, along with Molly & Baxter on Terrapin and Sabrina & Tom on Honey Ryder, and had burgers and wraps last night. Always fun to catch up with the crew on Tivoli.
With a little luck we’ll catch the 10:30am bridge opening tomorrow morning and start hopping down the islands toward Guadeloupe. The tradewinds are supposed to lighten up a bit for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Since we still need to make another 60 miles East (straight into the tradewinds), having lighter winds and waves will make this much easier.