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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.