Viva La France

Date:  31 July 2018

Location:  Margot Bay, St Martin  LAT 18° 04.167  LON 063° 06.143

Weather: Scattered Showers, Mid 80’s, Winds ESE 20 to 30 Knots

9 July 2018, Monday – St Thomas, USVI

We return to Crown Bay Marina where sadly, our Vice Admiral Cathy and Skipper Extraordinaire Joe, jump ship and return to their landlubber life. A wonderful time and great adventures had by all. Next up is Saint Martin but prior to departure my Crew turns their attention to chores that need to be finished up. The Captain embarks on yet another HD (Home Dept) run as The Admiral tackles laundry and some cleaning. Solar panel installation continues but rain showers and high winds kept them off my hard top.

10 July 2018, Tuesday – St Thomas, USVI

The Captain decides to thru bolt panels to my hard top – another trip to Ace for bolts and screws needed. They stopped at the grocery store for a few items since we had a rental car.  Installed the first 2 solar panels on the port side while they had me secured to the dock. Worked until dark then off to bed.

11 July 2018, Wednesday – St Thomas, USVI

All solar panel project gets put off as The Captain and Admiral celebrated their 35th Wedding anniversary (2 days past) by taking a break from their chores.

12 July 2018, Thursday  – St Thomas, USVI

Back at it running the feeders from panels to controls. Opted to stay at the dock and work in the AC. Made this job tolerable for my crew. They enjoyed Cuban sandwiches from the local Tickles Marina eatery.

13 July 2018, Friday – St Thomas, USVI

With completion of the Panel install in site, the crew washed clothes and made a quick run to grocery store for a few last items. Few last minute tasks mounting the disconnects and connecting the system to my house battery bank.

14 July 2018, Saturday – St Thomas, USVI

With the installation complete, my Crew enjoyed one last meal at Tickles and bid farewell to Jamie, the Marina Dock Master at Crown Point Marina. Luckily for PAWS, a large cargo shipped docked to windward which offered a wind break that made my escape a lot easier. Short trip to Christmas Cove for the evening where we anchored after finding all mooring balls in use. Often, working on one thing can create issues with other things. The Crew discovered the meter on the Wind Generator was not working. The Captain puts troubleshooting skills to work and finds his clumsy hands and fat fingers knocked the wires from the terminal blocks while routing control wires for the solar panels to the Battery Bank. Fortunately, the repairs were reasonably simple and once again the gauges were gauging.

15 July 2018, Sunday – Christmas Cove, BVI

Awakened at 0200 to anchor alarm squawking. PAWS was swinging but not dragging. Back to sleep. The next day found the added solar panels are keeping batteries juiced up to 13.5 Volts! Mission accomplished. Decided to celebrate and once again enjoy the Treasures from the Pizza Pi Boat located in the Bay. Ordered the medium pizza with extra meat. A little pricey at $39, but hey – you’re in the islands. After pizza, tried to get the anchor up, but Windless switch decides it doesn’t want to cooperate. The Admiral skillfully works the Helm while Captain used his magic touch to get anchor up. Steered PAWS between the rocks without hitting one. Then the wind fills in (at 20 knots) and provides a great sail to Jost Van Dyke. Soggy Dollar bar awaits in White Sound. Arrival finds the bay full of Charter Cats and Power boats so they work around Dog Hole Point into Great Harbour to pick up a mooring ball and dinghy back over. Soggy Dollar Bar was destroyed by Hurricane Irma but the owner and employees quickly rebuilt and back in business. Legend says the famous “Pain Killer” originated here in the 70’s. My crew found a chair near the beach and enjoyed people watching. Met John and Caroline from Tallahassee, FL, who were chartering a mono-hull boat for the week. After the sun set, loaded everyone into Sea Tigger for a short ride back to PAWS. John and Caroline joined my crew for some light snacks on PAWS. Lucky for us, they needed to offload their extra provisions they did not use. Fruit, juices and other supplies were greatly appreciated. Said good night to our friends and lights out.

16 July 2018, Monday – Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Got a little bath during the night while crew discussed options for the next anchorage. A quick run by The Captain and Sea Tigger to the Customs dock to give blood and then it was off to Cane Garden Bay where The Admiral showed off her skills and snagged the mooring ball on the first try! She said she missed her former crew helping on the hook but handled things like a pro. Scattered rain during the day so the crew relaxed and enjoyed swinging on the mooring ball.

17 July 2018, Tuesday – Cane Garden Bay

Replaced a failed Windless switch and weighed anchor to sail over to Lee Bay for the evening. Took two attempts to get her to set in the loose gravel over hard pan bottom. My anchor likes sand and not rocks. Washing done and The Captain takes a swim to rub some of the algae and slime build up off my belly – feels so good. After a full day of boat work, they enjoyed dinner with cabbage, rice and pork chops. Few showers throughout the night had my crew giving the hinges on my hatches a good workout. Lucky there was a good breeze in the cockpit!

18 July 2019, Wednesday – Marina Cay, BVI

Motored over to Marina Cay and grabbed a ball. The hurricane took care of the local restaurant and most of the other buildings on the island but rebuilding was in full swing. Back in 2010, when we visited the area on a charted boat, we saw the beginnings of a new resort. Scrub Island Resort and Marina is now up and going and quite the site. Caters to the “Big Boys”, not a cruiser hangout for sure!

Enjoyed lunch at Marina Cay under the tent, serving as the temp restaurant while the reconstruction is in progress. The small library was not totally destroyed and the walls of the store are still standing on top of hill. Met several couples who attended Clemson that were cruising with BVI Charters. Late afternoon found us in Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda. A lot of coral head about so again it took some time to find sandy spot. Finished the day with Pain Killers on ice. The only downer to a great day was the slight change of pitch in the engine that would need to be investigated.

19 July 2019, Thursday – Virgin Gorda

Departing the next day The Captain found my engine wouldn’t develop more than 2000 RPM as we slowly motor sail to Spanish Town. He took a look but nothing real apparent but obviously there was a problem. Contacted the local Volvo Dealer in Tortola and made arrangements to have one of their technicians working in Spanish Town come by and troubleshoot. Sea Tigger picked up Willard from shore and ferried him aboard PAWS. After some investigation, they found a piece of plastic from air filter broke off and sucked into the turbo. In addition, The Captain saw that custom exhaust riser we had installed in West Palm Beach had a crack in a weld joint. The process began to find a marina for repairs. That task proved difficult with an 8.5 ft draft and damaged docks. Spanish Town Marina was an option but they wanted $50 per hour to tie up plus 18% of the outside contractors bill. Not our first choice. Called several places, but no dock space available. Decided to motor sail slowly across Sir Francis Drake Channel to Tortola near the Mooring’s Base and near Volvo dealer. We squeezed in the Harbor just off Village Cay Marina. Unable to tie up dock side as Dream Yacht Charters has their base there taking up one of the intact docks and the other reserved for incoming private boats. Seems “Christmas in July” was underway which is a huge event where dozens of boats from nearby Puerto Rico head over to the BVI’s for a long weekend ofpartying.  After the last hurricane, Puerto Ricans loaded up and brought over supplies to help out their neighbors. We were able to set anchor, missing several sunken sailboats still underwater. Dinner on shore with Ribs and chicken.

20 July 2018, Friday – Village Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI

Willard returns to continue the investigation. Removed riser and discussed options. Decision was made to fix cracked riser and order new Turbo. Riser was sent off to machine shop for repair. Discussed hauling boat out for Hurricane season in the BVI’s but limited options and very $$$. Spent afternoon watching a barge mounted crane pull up a couple of sunken boats in the harbor. Nachos on board, ran generator to charge batteries. Need to check alternator on generator, draining start batteries.

21 July 2019, Saturday – Tortola

After seeing dozens of destroyed boats piled up along the shore and after multiple  continuing engine issues, Captain makes the decision to replace engine and get south. Turbo order canceled and PAWS sets sail to St. Marten. Captain wants PAWS out of the Hurricane belt and down to Grenada while our sailing window exists. We head out under sail with minimal use of engine. Sail started out smooth with a few scattered showers but no major storms. Captain took a short nap but had to be awaken when winds increased above 20 knots and boat speed above 8 knots in the dark! Admiral decides it’s a little fast at night with limited visibility. A reef in the mainsail and furl in the Yankee to reduce speed and stabilize the ride.

22 July 2018, Sunday – At Sea

We decided to tack into Marigot Bay. The stronger than expected East winds were not helping and maneuvers took some time. After a 29 hour sail, we anchored right off “Fort de Marigot” that overlooks and protects the large open bay. A beautiful sunset marked the end of a long day and off to bed at 1930. Awakened around midnight to rain, hatches closed and fans running.

23 July 2018, Monday – St Martin

Sea Tigger to marina to check into customs. Returned to PAWS, rain clouds approaching. Captain resting with kink in his neck. After nap, observed wind speed indicator not indicating. Another boat project at the top of my 82 foot mast. Admiral Joyce is not climbing up for this one. Dinner on boat and Captain Brian attempts to repair the oil line feeding the turbo on engine to decrease oil leaking into bilge and spraying out the exhaust. Making water and washing clothes. The joy of R/O, reverse osmosis, water taste refreshing. Off to bed and once again rain around 0100 means hatches closed and fans working.

24 July 2018, Tuesday – St Martin

PAWS really got a good fresh water shower overnight but day starts off with bright sun. Captain fetches the mechanic to look at the logistics of an engine replacement. Captain spent the day with local vendors and Admiral Joyce did a few boat chores. At least relaxing in the sun while clothes are washing is not too bad. Lunch prepared and waiting on Sea Tigger to return. Batteries at 13 plus volts with additional solar panels. At least something is working!

25 July 2018, Wednesday, – St Martin

My Crew ventures off on Sea Tigger to shore. They were able to dock near town square. Found ATM machine for some much needed cash. Translating French into English for a ATM withdrawal was a little challenging. Enjoyed a lunch at place on the water front and indulged in a tasty salad and chicken burger. Then it was off to find the Digicel cell phone store. Google Maps decided my crew needed some exercise and the App took them the long way there. SIM card purchased,  50 GB/month. Our friends at T-Mobile made this necessary because they canceled one of our numbers. The fine print in the “unlimited international plan” contract apparently allows this if 50% data used outside of US. Oh well, learning the cruising lifestyle. On a mission to find a adapter for 220v to 110v which is needed on French side of the island. Unable to find anything so they catch a bus to Dutch side. Bus ride for $2/person to Ace Hardware gets us an adapter. A walk to Island Water World Chandlery in search of a replacement Masthead anemometer is next. It was not to be so it was off to Budget Marine. The water cooler at Budget Marine was great sight. However, still no success in finding the part. They walked to street corner and caught one bus to a round-about and another back to Marigot Bay. After a full day of running around, Sea Tigger gets them back to PAWS. I think they looked a good 5 pounds lighter after their adventures today. They enjoyed the AC for a couple of hours while Captain ran the generator as the rain forced them to close the hatches.

The Admiral was able to touch base on Facebook with a former nurse co-worker coming in on Royal Caribbean “Oasis” on Thursday and plans were made to meet up.

26 July 2018, St Martin

Up early, coffee for Admiral Joyce – eggs, bacon and English muffin for The Captain. Launched Sea Tigger to take them ashore and caught bus to Philipsburg on the Dutch side where the cruise docks are located. Hard to beat a $2 bus ride across the island. Admiral Joyce struck up a conversation with a local on the bus who ended up walking them to the road leading to the cruise ship docks. Her friend, Peggy Dean Miller and husband Jeff meet my crew at the gate.  The Security Officer found us a cab to Maho Beach in Simpson Bay. The trip over the mountain was quite picturesque but Hurricane Irma certainly left a lasting impression on the island. Dozens of sunken boats scattered around the lagoon, several flipped airplanes on the airstrip and hotels with only the shell structure remaining. However, the island is open and tourists are flocking back.

My crews destination for the day was The Sunset Bar and Grill, best known for its close proximity to Princess Juliana International airport making it a popular hangout for plane spotters and tourist watchers. They enjoyed the afternoon with live bands, dancing, several rounds of Pain Killers, Grilled Fish sandwiches and seasoned fries while watching Darwin Award candidates risking their lives down on the beach. The idiots hang on to a chain link fence 30 meters off the departure end of the runway. The goal being to see if they can get blown off their feet and into the water as the planes depart. Truth be told, I’ve never considered humans to be exceptionally bright.

After a fun filled day, they loaded up in a Taxi, said their good byes and were off to the hardware store on a mission to find a specific bolt which apparently is only made by some secret tribe in southern Mongolia, only in the winter and only on Thursday mornings. The search will continue. Oh well, 15 minute walk to bus stop. 30 minute ride back to Marigot Bay and then another short walk to dinghy. Getting their steps in for the day, back to PAWS for a rest!

27 July 2018, Friday – St Martin

Dinghy to shore to find Wi-fi so the Captain can complete his Continuing Ed for his Electrical license. Admiral Joyce finds local eatery and orders ham and cheese omelet with homemade bread. While The Captain starts his online class, Joyce leaves to hunt down the customs office for check out. Evidence of the Hurricane destruction is everywhere, part of wall to the cemetery down and hotels still missing windows but there are positive signs of rebuilding. Found she was able to complete the check out without the Captain so she returns to the marina for paper work, checks on Captain and returns to Island World to complete process. Check out is done online. Even though keyboard set up in French letter placement, all forms are completed, the $2 fee paid and then it’s off to explore. Many of the shops have not reopened so it’s mostly window shopping while she makes her way back to marina to make sure the Captain hadn’t fallen asleep.

A local recommends Yacht Harbor for lunch overlooking the water. While waiting on lunch, they were entertained by local Iguanas looking for a few lettuce leaves. Salad with chicken for Joyce and Captain indulges in steak, he was happy. He continues with online class at the restaurant and Joyce takes off on a mission. About a mile later, she reaches the grocery store and the fun begins. Translating French into English was a little challenging but she finds a fellow shopper willing to help her. Bread, sliced meat, cheese and salty snacks purchased, bagged and ready for hike back to marina. At the restaurant Captain completes his online course and back to PAWS they come to get me ready for the crossing to St Kitts.

28 July 2018, Saturday- St Martin

After a rolling night on the anchor, on and off showers, we awoke to a beautiful rainbow after shower. Note to self, close hatch in salon, puddles of water and bare feet do not go together. Luckily the rug caught Admiral Joyce’s fall.

Anchor up, engine less than 1500 RPM and PAWS sets sail to Oranjestad Bay, Saint Eustatius, a dormant island volcano. My engine allowed us to get around rocks, the sails went up and engine off. We stayed on port tack, averaging 6-7 knots with winds 18-20 knots. A few waves over the bow washed in the helm station. Passed by Saba Island, which has shortest commercial runway in the world. Saint Eustatius has an Oil jetty extending out in water. Finally on Leeward side of islands. Set anchor in Oranje Bay, near the Harbor Club with music greater than 10 decibels. Captain resting, continues with neck discomfort.

29 July 2018, Sunday- Oranje Bay

After spending a rolling night in anchorage and Admiral not happy after little rest, Captain decides to sail on to Nevis. Started out with 18-20 knot winds going 6-7 knots. Passed by St. Kitts but heard they prefer cruise ships over Cruisers. Nevis is one island below St. Kitts, but the wind angle and no horse power on the engine made the sail a little more challenging. Finally made it to Penni’s Beach and secured a mooring after several attempts. Lines secured, dinghy in the water, hatches open and time to relax. We were greeted by jet ski boats zooming by as well as locals racing by us after a Poker Run.

We have learned if you ignore and don’t get your dander up, they go away. Beach bar playing loud music at 20+ decibels. Saw the local party Sunset barge go out. Also, saw cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas,  passing to St. Lucia. Her speed of 17 knots is a little faster than our 5-7 knots but they’re not as efficient. Raining off and on, hatches closed and fans on. Less roll in this anchorage.

30 July 2018, Monday-Penni’s Beach

Awoke after a great night’s sleep, less rolling. Boat chores complete, dinghy launched. Visited our neighbors on S/V “Space Between” and got some local info. Sea Tigger to Charles Town, Nevis to check in. Securing dinghy to damaged dock and swell from ferry boat was a little challenging. Followed signs to customs office on second floor, located in an Air conditioned room. 5 steps down, immigration, checked in and passport stamped. 3rd door down, port authority and mooring fee paid. $44 and we are legal for 3 days. Our officer explained what was happening in the city over the next few days.

Visited tourist office for local map and information. They walked through town to find a local lunch spot. Found a local eatery, enjoyed salad, rice/peas beef and chicken, 2 drinks, $20. Bartender walked my crew to local bus top and recommended Dr. Drake to drive us to Golden Rock, one of the places recommended to visit. It was the local bus with seating for 12. Their bus was filled with locals shopping and getting to work. On their journey they passed a local IGA with goats on one side of the traffic circle and donkeys in the cemetery on the other side. Finally made it to Golden Rock, old sugar mill converted into an Inn and Restaurant. Golden Inn site located several hundred feet up in the mountains. No A/C needed in the cottages. There is a 2 suite villa located in the old mill part. The bar area has the original stone form the 17th century. Fishponds, numerous plants surround the area. This might have to be a revisit one day. Our bus driver picked my crew up promptly at 1630. One of the locals told them that donkeys are numerous on the island and some are used for research at the Vet school, Ross University.

Returned to Sea Tigger and explored  the coast along the beach. Unable to  launch dinghy on the beach due to incline. Continued up to Yachtsman Harbor Club for dinner. Enjoyed dinner with our friends from S/V Space Between, named for time between birth until the end. Dinghy ride back in the dark, but Captain able to avoid mooring balls with aid of head lamp.

Generator fired up to power batteries and AC on to cool off the cabin. However, when generator off, hatches open and fans on. Our nightly rain shower begins, hatches closed and fans on. A little roll during the night on the mooring ball.

31 July 2018, Tuesday – Charlestown, Nevis

Took Sea Tigger into Charlestown for lunch and Wi-Fi at The Caribbean catching up on emails and paid a few bills. Enjoyed the sunshine in the afternoon to wander around the town. The Captain scoped out an ice cream shop before heading back to PAWS. Yamaha engine secured to the stern rail and dinghy hoisted up to the fore deck with Spinnaker Halyard. Everything prepped for our early departure south. Rain showers off and on, hatches closed and fans on. DC fans are the greatest to keep my crew cool!

Joyce & Brian Clark

S/V Pawsitive Latitude


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2 thoughts on “Viva La France

  1. I just love the detailed way you describe everything, and it is fun reading between the lines sometimes to figure out how the crew really felt 😀. I enjoyed every picture!

    Liked by 1 person

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