Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I found my cell phone the night before and turned it on for the first time since leaving Germany, not in order to use the telephony but to use the alarm function. I set it for 1am but didn't get as much sleep as I'd wanted as I had trouble falling asleep, but I was awake enough and made some coffee to drink while traversing the channel. Weighing anchor and making my logbook entry took only minutes and at 01:30am I had the engine on and was heading out. The wind was nonexistent in the North Sound and later, on the open ocean, it was variable at 3 knots, sometimes at 5. Trying to motor sail would have steadied the boat, but slowed me down a bit so I decided to make like a powerboat and use my diesel for the whole passage. The northerly base swell occasionally rolled the boat but it wasn't uncomfortable at all. I set the Gori prop to overdrive, put 2000 RPM on the tachometer and made 7.1 to 7.3 knots according to the GPS.
The AIS was a fun tool as I saw 2 targets while they were still 40 miles away that the AIS system told me would have a CPA (closest point of approach) at under 1NM, but by the time they got closer the actual closest distance was over 2 miles, so I assume that the big ships had altered either speed or course to increase the distance as I certainly hadn't touched my controls and there was no wind or wave action on that glassy sea.
I was napping when I awakened to some sound and saw that some dolphins were frolicking next to the boat. I waited a bit to see if they would stick around long enough for me to get the camera from below and they, staying just long enough to let me get the lens cap off and power up the camera and then they disappeared. I did get one picture of them playing around behind the boat, though.
I made it into Marigot at 13:30, a mere 12 hour passage and by far the easiest that I'd ever done. Within a half hour I'd gotten the dinghy inflated and into the water, my papers sorted out and taken a quick shower so I wouldn't bowl over the immigration officer with my pungent odour. The officer was standing outside of the office talking with someone when he spied me, came over and shook my hand and said &Welcome home&; that was a pleasant surprise. It only took 10 minutes to clear in, since the officer filled in the computer form (those French keyboards still confound me) and after paying my €35 fee (first night for a 15m ship is expensive, but every night thereafter is only €3.50) I headed to Keith's car rental where someone else was at the stand and I ended up getting a real clunker of a rental, but at least the brakes work and the A/C does as well.
My first stops were, as one can expect, Budget Marine and Island Waterworld, but I didn't buy anything as I'd forgotten my shopping list ashore. I did go to Philipsburg and got a cheap printer, since I really do need one aboard and have already paid at least the $45 purchase price in printing fees at internet cafés throughout the Caribbean. There was a cruise ship in town, so I didn't find any parking along the main drag and postponed my trip to a camera store (for a polarizing filter and a tripod) for another day. Wednesday the 15th is a national holiday of some sort on the Dutch side so I'll have to do that on Thursday.

Jumping Dolphins Jumping Dolphins
Jumping Dolphins
Flying fish This fish ws a much better flier than he was at choosing flighpaths or landing zones. He made a night landing while I was on passage and I didn't see him until the next morning when it was too late and he'd closed his flight plan.

[18°20'48.13"N 63°42'25.09"W ]
Flying fish
Becalmed going to St. Martin Motoring toward the island of St. Martin coming from the BVI - normally this is a difficult upwind passage against the waves, but I had a good weather wind and quickly motored the distance.

[18°8'54.46"N 63°29'23.96"W (facing E)]
Becalmed going to St. Martin
Comfortable cockpit seating This is my typical seating position while on passage, some cushions at my back to protect it from the winch and looking forward.
Comfortable cockpit seating
Fish traps Fish traps waiting to snare the unwary sail or powerboat between the islands of St. Martin and Anguilla.

[18°6'0.61"N 63°11'24.97"W (facing NE)]
Fish traps
Winches and Lines Winches and Lines
Winches and Lines
Simpson Bay from above Simpson Bay from above

[18°1'55.19"N 63°4'27.35"W (facing NW)]
Simpson Bay from above
Fort St.Louis in Marigot Looking forward from my anchoring position up to Fort St. Louis, which still commands a prominent position over the town.

[18°4'4.44"N 63°5'16.88"W (facing NE)]
Fort St.Louis in Marigot

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