I awoke shortly before the alarm was set to go off and quickly prepared the boat for night passage. A French boat had anchored close to me in the late afternoon, but I had subsequently dove on my anchor to make sure that I could leave without running into them so I was good to go. I departed around midnight with mainsail partially reefed and no genoa set, with about 1600RPM on the engine and pointed the autopilot at Simpson Bay on the map and told it to “Make it so”. I checked my speed and it was a good 5.8 knots, the sail wasn't flapping and kept the boat relatively stable and the waves were a bit higher than I expected and the boat would slam every once in a while - which bleeds speed which the motor has to work to regain. Shortly after hitting the open seas there was a strange ”BANG&8221; somewhere around the cockpit and it wasn't until I arrived that I noticed some shards of yellowed plastic on deck and discovered that my radar reflector, which I'd attached to the rigging myself when the boat was commissioned, had departed company with the boat. There are some dents in the teak deck which I'll have to sand out.
There was a lot of boat traffic around. Big cruise ships puttering away on their way east and many smaller motorboats and sailboats, so instead of my usual routine of sleeping for about an hour and relying on the AIS and radar alarms, I remained awake and only dozed fitfully this time around. When the sun came up I looked back at my wake and realized that something was wrong with it. First, there was a little white float bobbing around the ocean in it, remaining at a constant distance from the boat, secondly there was a long line stretching back, right in the middle of the wake. Damn! I'd caught a fish trap, and that must have happened in the first hour after leaving the BVI, since the water soon drops off to stygian and abyssal depths after leaving those islands. My boat speed has dropped to around 5 knots as well! I slowed the boat down to idle I didn't want to put it in neutral for fear of a propeller wrap) and pulled in the 100 feet or so of slimy line and saw that the two floats were on the other side of that line; I assume it had missed the propeller and done a simple wrap around the rudder and since the steering felt normal I just cut the long end of the line close and kept on dragging the remaining floats behind me. The long line, being heavier than water, went overboard, and my boat speed at 1800RPM picked up again afterwards. Several hours later I saw that due to the autopilot motion on the rudder the remnants of the fish trap had freed themselves and went floating away. I had hoped to get those back aboard rather than leave them floating around as a hazard to other boats, but I hadn't expected them to free themselves.
I arrived in St. Martin at about 13:30, anchored outside and got the dinghy ready again, showered, shaved, put on a fresh shirt, and zipped across to the Simpson Bay Bridge Customs and Immigration office. At their dock was Mark and the crew of an Australian boat leaving and we greeted each other while he agreed to help me find a suitable anchoring spot inside the lagoon after the 15:00 bridge opening. The paperwork inside consisted of filling out 2 forms, one of them used to use carbon paper, but they now just photocopy it instead. Clearance went quickly but the credit card machine was down so I couldn't pay, and since I didn't have enough cash along they said I should just pay when I leave. If it were any other office I would be 100% certain of being able to avoid paying upon exit, but the Dutch in Sint Maarten are pretty good at collecting their dues and I'm certain I won't get away with it.
\ I got in line for the bridge opening and Mark dropped by to join me through the bridge, afterwards he had his lead-line out and started looking for a good place. We found one spot that was deep enough, but if I put out sufficient scope it might put me partially in the channel but it was the best option. An Australian boat said that they were leaving at the 16:00 bridge opening and that I could have their spot if I wanted (and I wanted) so once they left I took their spot and anchored in good water. I did go over the chain of the boat behind me, but I'd spoken to him and he said he wasn't leaving until the 14th so we are good to go.
I went to the Yacht Club at the bridge to see the 17:0 opening and spoke with two ladies from New York for a bit. Then Mark joined us and we chatted for a bit. I think that we are now categorized by them as “Randoms” (random guys that chat them up); after they left to prepare for Salsa night we talked for a while but I faded fast and once aboard the boat again I had the rest of my bread with some cheese and was asleep within seconds of hitting the bed.

St. Martin seen through the salty dodger Approaching St. Martin after a night passage from the BVI, with the decks and dodger liberally covered with salt spray
(2015-02-24 12:02:14 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/800s] ISO 125)
St. Martin seen through the salty dodger
Looking aft on an ocean passage The BVI are 50 miles directly behind and long out of sight, and St. Martin is still a long ways ahead.
(2015-02-24 12:02:23 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/250s] ISO 125)
Looking aft on an ocean passage
Caught a fishtrap I had hauled most of the 100 feet of line aboard and the part that had the 2 floats, one of which can be seen in the picture, was still wrapped around the rudder.
(2015-02-24 08:39:41 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/60s] ISO 125)
Caught a fishtrap
Dragging a fishtrap on passage I had hauled most of the 100 feet of line aboard and the part that had the 2 floats, one of which can be seen in the picture, was still wrapped around the rudder.
(2015-02-24 08:39:37 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/20s] ISO 125)
Dragging a fishtrap on passage
Blue Mall looks like it is finally finished The concrete building has been complete for a long time, but the mall itself wasn't built out for a long time, and the upper stories were still windowless and empty last year, but it looks like it has been finally finished.
(2015-02-24 12:36:43 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/1000s] ISO 125)
Blue Mall looks like it is finally finished
Ester III Megayacht ahead of me for the bridge Ester III must have had a new skipper who had not gone through the bridge before, as it took them a very, very long time to go through. But they made it without popping any fenders or scratching concrete.
(2015-02-24 14:55:56 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/1000s] ISO 125)
Ester III Megayacht ahead of me for the bridge
Salty dodger The sea spray from the passage has dried and adhered to the dodger. I hope that it will rain in the next couple of days to help wash all this overboard.
(2015-02-24 12:02:39 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/640s] ISO 125)
Salty dodger
Lady Mariposa dousing a spi I think that they were either training for the upcoming Heineken Regatta or part of another race at this point in time, as other big boats were out there as well with spinnakers flying.
(2015-02-24 12:37:38 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/6.3, 1/320s] ISO 125)
Lady Mariposa dousing a spi
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