On to Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten is the southern portion of a divided island in the Caribbean. The northern 60% is French and is called St. Martin. The southern 40% is Dutch and is known as Sint Maarten. Although Christopher Columbus never landed on the island, he spotted it on his second voyage to the West Indies in 1493, naming it St. Martin after St. Martin of Tours. We were determined to supersede Columbus’ feat by making our own landfall.

Leaving Anguilla in our Wake

Leaving Anguilla in our Wake

Passing Steven Spielberg's $200 million dollar yacht as we cross the Anguilla Channel

Passing Steven Spielberg’s $200 million dollar yacht as we cross the Anguilla Channel

Also passing by the 377', $545 million super yacht Luna originally owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, then sold to his friend, Farkhav Akhmedov.

Also passing by the 377′, $545 million super yacht Luna originally owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, then sold to his friend, Farkhav Akhmedov.

On Easter Sunday morning, after having attended the midnight Easter Vigil at St. Mary’s Anglican Church on Anguilla, we released our mooring lines, raised our sails and set off for a very brisk sail across the Anguilla Channel to Sint Maarten. The wind was howling out of the east at 20-25 knots. So, we put a reef in the main and headed south. This put us on a beam reach with 5-6 waves coming from our port side. We averaged around 8 knots on this short 18 nautical mile passage, at times hitting over 9 knots. The trip was not all that uncomfortable or challenging, but the docking was quite exciting… in a not so good kind of way. After waiting a few minutes for the opening of the Simpson Bay Bridge, we were met by the guide boat from the marina. The bridge only opens every few hours, so there were four vessels which were escorted in to Simpson Bay Marina. We were the last. Finally, we were asked to back into a slip with 20-25 knot crosswinds with higher gusts… not a welcome chore. The guide boat (an inflatable dinghy) was pushing on our starboard bow to keep us from being pushed into the dock and the boat beside us, but he only served to make the maneuver more challenging than it would have been. When he did try to give us a push, he pushed with too much force which totally messed up our alignment with the slip. And, when his push would have been helpful it was absent. Finally, however, we were able to make our way into the slip and secure ourselves to the dock, with a minor scratch or two on the gelcoat. Ouch!

Waiting on the Simpson Bay Bridge to open

Waiting on the Simpson Bay Bridge to open

In line to pass into the Simpson Bay Lagoon through the Simpson Bay Bridge

In line to pass into the Simpson Bay Lagoon through the Simpson Bay Bridge

Piloting the vessel inside the lagoon

Piloting the vessel inside the lagoon

Beatitude in her slip in Simpson Bay Marina.

Beatitude in her slip in Simpson Bay Marina.

Walking the highway to Customs and Immigration, about a 10- minute walk from the marina.  Clearing in was simple and straightforward.  It cost us $101.00 for 6 weeks.

Walking the highway to Customs and Immigration, about a 10- minute walk from the marina. Clearing in was simple and straightforward. It cost us $101.00 for 6 weeks.

Donald Trump makes an appearance in Sint Maarten.

Donald Trump makes an appearance in Sint Maarten.

We had made reservations with the Simpson Bay Marina, knowing that we would be leaving the boat there for a month while we return to the United States: I to work, and Cindy for knee replacement surgery. Although we wouldn’t leave until Wednesday, unfortunately, we had no time for sight-seeing or exploring. Cindy is unsure of how much mobility she will have when she returns to Beatitude less than a month after having knee surgery, so doing a thorough cleaning of the owner’s hull and salon was high on her list of things to do.

Cindy cleaning the owner's hull

Cindy cleaning the owner’s hull

I was busy making arrangements for other boat tasks which needed to be addressed. Our watermaker has not worked since leaving Puerto Rico. The water would be rejected and dumped overboard because the salinity was too high. Based on the troubleshooting section of the owner’s manual, this meant that either the salinity probe or the membrane was bad. I was able to find a Spectra Watermaker authorized service center in St. Martin who sent a technician over to the boat. He had it working before the day was out. It was the membrane which had gone bad. This surprised me somewhat because we had just replaced the membrane two years ago (They should last, apparently up to seven years). We tried to follow all the procedures carefully to insure its continued service, but it went bad anyway. At least, it is working again now. While we were dealing with the watermaker, I decided to go ahead and change the three pre-filters and the charcoal filter. It was then I noticed one of the O-rings was broken. Fortunately, the watermaker folks had some on hand.

Watermaker Maintenance

Watermaker Maintenance

We also needed to clean Beatitude’s hull. I’ve done it in the past, but it is quite a chore. And, this time we had garnered quite a barnacle collection below the waterline. Thankfully, I was able to find a reputable diving company to come and clean the bottom on the same day I called. It looks great now.

Taken from our dock -- looking at the marina offices and the beautiful hills behind

Taken from our dock — looking at the marina offices and the beautiful hills behind

It was also time to do some routine maintenance on the twin Yanmar diesels. I took a day to change the oil and replacing the oil filters on both engines. While I was at it, I cleaned the raw water strainers and replaced the Racor fuel filters. I also tightened the alternator belts and checked the oil in the sail drives. While working on the starboard engine I notice oil on the floor of the engine compartment. I then noted the sail drive oil was low and there was some oil around the base of the sail drive. Uh oh! A call to a Yanmar expert is forthcoming. This could be a potentially costly problem.

Diesel Maintenance

Diesel Maintenance

The other issue that will we are hopeful will be resolved while the boat is in St. Maarten is the Garmin electronics problem. A local shop has been contacted by Garmin and I have spoken with them. It appears they will be able to fix our wind speed/direction indicator and our water temperature sensor while we are away. Fingers are crossed!

Cindy on a walk to dinner

Cindy on a walk to dinner

Dinner at Sale & Pepe, which served excellent Italian fare

Dinner at Sale & Pepe, which served excellent Italian fare

Dinner at The Greenhouse

Dinner at The Greenhouse

Yesterday, we boarded our flights at the Princess Juliana Airport in Sint Maarten for the long flights home. Cindy and I split up in Atlanta where she continued on to Ohio, and I flew back to Daytona Beach. I’ll work there for four days, and then fly to Ohio on the day of her surgery. It’ll be four weeks before we return to Beatitude. I’m sure I’ll have a couple of updates before then.

Sunset in Sint Maarten

Sunset in Sint Maarten

Holy Week in the British West Indies

Cindy and I decided to stay in Anguilla through the end of Holy Week so that we could fully immerse ourselves in the commemoration and celebration of this most important week on the Christian calendar. We rented a car last weekend so that we could attend Palm Sunday worship at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in The Valley. We found the service so acceptable that we decided to stay in Anguilla for the next seven days so as to be able to attend other services.

One of Cindy's favorite trees - The African Tulip - by the side of the road.

One of Cindy’s favorite trees – The African Tulip – by the side of the road.

Sunset in Road Bay

Sunset in Road Bay

We again rented a car for three days, from Thursday to Sunday, so that we could worship with the fine folks at St. Mary’s. On Thursday evening, we attended the Maundy Thursday service, so called from the Latin “mandatum,” meaning commandment. It was at the the Last Supper that Christ gave the new commandment to his disciples — That they love one another. Then, from noon to 3 p.m. on Good Friday, we attended a service in which the seven last words of Christ were remembered in homilies and hymns. I find it it so moving to sit in church and consider these sayings for the three hours which correlate with Christ’s final hours on the cross. Then on Saturday night at 11:30, we attended on of my favorite services of the year, the Easter Vigil. I’ll never forget the first one that I attended in Sarasota while we lived aboard in Bradenton. The service begins in absolute darkness, the darkness which fell on all when Christ was crucified and buried. Then, the Easter Candle, representing the light of Christ, makes its way down the center aisle. Soon the place is completely lit, signifying the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The service lasted until almost 1:30 a.m., at which time we drove back Sandy Ground, hopped on our dinghy, and returned to Beatitude. We love being a part of a liturgical church, where we, in some mystical way, participate in Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.

St. Mary's before Maundy Thursday service.

St. Mary’s before Maundy Thursday service.

St. Mary's at the beginning of Maundy Thursday service

St. Mary’s at the beginning of Maundy Thursday service

St. Mary's after Maundy Thursday service.  The altar stripped bare anticipating Christ's betrayal and suffering.

St. Mary’s after Maundy Thursday service. The altar stripped bare anticipating Christ’s betrayal and suffering.

Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil

I would be remiss if I led you to believe all we did was worship and attend church in Anguilla this past week. Having a rental car meant that we could drive to the other gloriously beautiful bays lined with white sand beaches and restaurants right on the sand. We definitely visited our share.

Our view from DaVida Beach Bar on Crocus Bay

Our view from DaVida Beach Bar on Crocus Bay

Lunch at DaVida

Lunch at DaVida

My flower among the flower's at DaVida Beach Bar on Crocus Bay

My flower among the flower’s at DaVida Beach Bar on Crocus Bay

I'm about to be attacked by a ferocious cat! (At Smokey's on Cove Bay)

I’m about to be attacked by a ferocious cat! (At Smokey’s on Cove Bay)

Cats, Dogs, Chickens in every restaurant!

Cats, Dogs, Chickens in every restaurant!

Enjoyed some great Honey-BBQ baby back ribs. :)

Enjoyed some great Honey-BBQ baby back ribs. 🙂

What a sunset at Smokey's!

What a sunset at Smokey’s!

Outside CeBlue, home of great pizza on Crocus Bay

Outside CeBlue, home of great pizza on Crocus Bay

Pizza at Ce Blue

Pizza at Ce Blue

We are also quite pleased with our almost two weeks spent at anchor. Our energy management was very good. We only had to run the generator once (after a mostly cloudy day), meaning our solar power kept up with our energy needs pretty well. And we survived on our two tanks of water (96 gallons total) for two weeks. Since our watermaker is out of service, we had little choice but to make do. And, we did fine. We washed our dishes in salt water and rinsed them in fresh, which was fine. We sacrificed our daily showers for showers every 2 or 3 days, but we were in the water swimming almost every day. That gives us confidence going forward in our ability to handle energy and water needs for a more extended time.

After just 5 hours of sleep on Saturday night, we rose early to make the 18-mile passage to a new island and a new country, Sint Maarten. More on that next time…

The 180-foot 3-masted barque, Picton Castle, which has made 5 world voyages.

The 180-foot 3-masted barque, Picton Castle, which has made 5 world voyages.

The Picton Castle in background, my lovely wife in the foreground in Dali.

The Picton Castle in background, my lovely wife in the foreground in Dali.

Last Sunset in Anguilla

Last Sunset in Anguilla

Three More Days on Anguilla

The Star Clipper Cruise Ship sailing off into the sunset after a stop in Anguilla

The Star Clipper Cruise Ship sailing off into the sunset after a stop in Anguilla

We are using Anguilla as a decompression and chill out spot. The weeks prior to reaching anguilla were quite hectic for us. We spent a weekend visiting with some friends from Puerto Rico. Then, we hosted our great friends, Justin and Shera, for a week. Afterwards, we flew back to the states for ten days. Julie and Tracy were then on board for ten days as we did a whirlwind cruise of the British Virgin Island’s. We are now enjoying doing very little of anything but hanging out in one spot. Anguilla helped us with this decision a little bit. It is only a little over $20.00 to clear in and stay in Road Bay, but several hundred dollars a week to take Beatitude elsewhere in the island. So, we’re staying put and seeing the rest of the island by rental car. And, by the way, enjoying it!

Cindy, ready for the beach

Cindy, ready for the beach

There are two other things we’ve been especially enjoying lately. First of all, the trade winds. The steady easterly winds keep Beatitude and her crew quite comfortable and cool. It’s truly wonderful. I’m sure it will be hotter as the summer approaches, but I’m hoping this is a token of what’s to come. The other thing we’ve been happy about is the virtual absence of biting insects — at least on board. I’m sure the steady winds contribute to this fortuitous occurrence. Since eastern Puerto Rico, throughout the Virgin Islands, and now in Anguilla, we’ve been able to keep the windows and doors wide open at night and not have any problem with mosquitos and no-see-ums. We’ve also seen very few flies. It’s a nice change from the states and the Bahamas!

Goats freely roam the streets of Anguilla

Goats freely roam the streets of Anguilla

A view while driving on the island

A view while driving on the island

That's not ice or snow.  It's salt on the rocks in the salt pond.  I don't think the salt ponds on Anguilla are in operation at this time, but it's easy to see how the evaporation of salt water leaves behind tons of salt.

That’s not ice or snow. It’s salt on the rocks in the salt pond. I don’t think the salt ponds on Anguilla are in operation at this time, but it’s easy to see how the evaporation of salt water leaves behind tons of salt.

On Sunday, we drove our rental car into The Valley (the capital of Anguilla) and attended church at St. Mary’s Anglican Church. We truly enjoyed the service. It was Palm Sunday, so we joined part of the congregation at a small park two or three blocks from the church before service. There the Anglican church participated in an ecumenical service with the local Catholic and Methodist church before marching through the streets back to St. Mary’s singing hymns to God. When Cindy and I were getting in line to process back to St. Mary’s, one of the ladies from the Anglican church asked if we were looking for the Catholic line. When we said, “No, We’re Anglican,” she explained that the Catholic congregation contains many more white families, so she assumed we were with them. St. Mary’s is 98-99% black. We didn’t think anything of it, but she apologized at the church and hoped we weren’t offended. We, of course, were not. We’re happy to worship whenever and wherever, with whatever color people happen to be there.

St. Mary's exterior

St. Mary’s exterior

Methodist, Catholic, and Anglican priests consorting before the Palm Sunday Service and Processional

Methodist, Catholic, and Anglican priests consorting before the Palm Sunday Service and Processional

Processing toward the church

Processing toward the church

Singing and Waving Palm Branches in the streets of Anguilla

Singing and Waving Palm Branches in the streets of Anguilla

St. Mary's Anglican Church, The Valley, Anguilla, British West Indies

St. Mary’s Anglican Church, The Valley, Anguilla, British West Indies

After church, we drove over to Mead’s Bay and had dinner at Blanchard’s Beach Bar. A cruising friend told us about the place. The owners retired here and opened a restaurant, writing a book about the process. We sat right at a table directly in the sand on the beach and enjoyed some excellent tacos. The rest of afternoon was spent at Elvis’ Beach Bar working on the blog.

Entrance to Blanchard's Beach Bar

Entrance to Blanchard’s Beach Bar

Cool plant at Blanchard's

Cool plant at Blanchard’s

A look at our table right on the beach

A look at our table right on the beach

Chilling on Mead's Bay at our table at Blanchard's

Chilling on Mead’s Bay at our table at Blanchard’s

Toes in the sand at lunch.  Which legs belong to whom?

Toes in the sand at lunch. Which legs belong to whom?

Our lunchtime view on Mead's Bay

Our lunchtime view on Mead’s Bay

On Monday, we drove over to Crocus Bay and had wonderful pizza at CeBleu, a nice resort perched on the hillside overlooking the bay. The pizza was some of the best we’ve had. Very authentic with simple flavors on a crispy crust. When we returned to Beatitude, we jumped in the beautiful water for a refreshing swim. About that time, we were invaded by hordes of charterers. The Sunsail and Moorings fleet must have all left St. Martin at the same time and made Anguilla the first stop on their charter experience. Within ten minutes, we had six charter boats dropping anchors on every side of our aquatic home, all within fifty to one hundred feet away. The crew of the closest boat were definitely in party mode and were loud well into the night. Fortunately, the next day, they all disappeared as quickly as they had appeared (although there were replacements, just not as many).

Lunch at CeBleu, overlooking Crocus Bay

Lunch at CeBleu, overlooking Crocus Bay

View from our table at CeBleu

View from our table at CeBleu

A little work mixed in with a lot of play

A little work mixed in with a lot of play

Monday's Sunset

Monday’s Sunset

Tuesday was a dive morning for me again. We dove on a wreck on the first dive and on No Name Reef on the second. It was a great morning, which was followed by another good lunch at Dolce Vita on the beach here at Sandy Ground (Road Bay). The afternoon was spent chilling on board. The evening transpired watching the moon rise, the sun set, enjoying steak on the grill, and watching a movie in the salon.

Our view, from Beatitude, of last night's moonrise over Sandy Ground.  The Italian restaurant Dolce Vita and the French restaurant Le Bar are seen below.

Our view, from Beatitude, of last night’s moonrise over Sandy Ground. The Italian restaurant Dolce Vita and the French restaurant Le Bar are seen below.

Full Moon in Anguilla

Full Moon in Anguilla

Tuesday's sunset

Tuesday’s sunset

Oh, and the other entertainment of the night was trying not to watch the exhibitionists on the boat anchored directly in front of us. We’ve heard that some cruisers (especially Europeans) are pretty nonchalant about public nudity in the anchorage. We’ve not seen much of it… until now. The gentleman on the cat in front of us proceeded to take off his swim trunks right out in open on the stern, walk down the steps, and jump into the water. He then reclimbed the swim ladder and proceeded to lather up his entire body before jumping in again to rinse off. He then lotioned up his entire body before putting back on his swim trunks. His female companion showed a little more modesty by keeping her bikini bottoms on and covering her top with a towel some of the time. Such is the cruising life in the islands!