Mark and I ended up taking Yazawa II, our committee “B” boat, back to Oyster Pond today. Mark had already been to the gas station to fill up some Jerry cans to top off the tanks and since we were already a well-oiled team we were off our mooring quickly and motoring around Sint Maarten to Oyster Pond on the windward side. Soon after rounding the corner of Simpson Bay we began bashing our way through the big swell and strong winds and despite running the engines at high revs our speed would vary from 3 knots (after getting a pounding) to 5 knots or so. The motion was surprisingly uncomfortable compared to a monohull sailboat, but part of that might be that the sails on a monohull will keep a given heel angle and the main motion is bobbing on the fore-aft axis, while the catamaran would constantly move about all three axis.
We got to listen to a (Sunsail charter) boat calling the MRCC Fort-de-France because they lost their steering, but the first suggestion from the MRCC was to try using their autopilot (since that is usually attached straight onto the quadrant while the steering mechanism uses cables and pulleys) and that met with success. They headed back to Oyster Pond but were to arrive much later than we did. The seas were irregular and big and the wind was blowing us strongly ashore, we could see breakers all over but the outer marker and 3 channel markers were visible so Mark gave Yazawa II a bit of gas and in we went, met by a pilot boat on the way out to guide in the charter boat behind us. Once inside Oyster Pond the wind was negligible, as were the waves. After several minutes we were met by a Sunsail representative who came aboard and did a splendid job of putting us alongside the dock between two docks. Although there wasn't that much room, she made it look easy!
We did have to wait a while to get her to check the boat back in, as she was called off due to a catamaran with just one engine having to come in. The boat running on autopilot only had their autopilot fail, luckily after entering Oyster Pond. It later turned out that the cat with but one running motor was our sister ship, committee boat “A” and the skipper acknowledged that the entrance was rather hairy!
Mark and I repaired to the “Dinghy Dock” for a non-Heineken beverage while we waited for a lift from Wietske; who arrived soon and drove us back to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club; where we continued to stay at the bar. Somehow that ended up being the end of the day for us and once I finally got back aboard Zanshin I didn't get much work done at all.

Yasawa II, our committee boat The Robertson and Caine 38 foot catamaran was our home for the regatta week during the races. We've already removed all of our flags and other race items and are about to return the cat to other side of the island.
(2015-03-09 11:22:29 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/4.2, 1/3200s] ISO 1000)
Yasawa II, our committee boat
Mark entering Oyster Pond The entrance channel to Oyster Pond is narrow with breaking waves on both sides plus an onshore wind - put together it means a rather hairy couple of minutes.
(2015-03-09 13:15:45 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/4.0, 1/2000s] ISO 200)
Mark entering Oyster Pond
Oyster Pond reef next to the entrance channel Entering a narrow channel with seas and wind running behind you isn't for the faint of heart.
(2015-03-09 13:14:47 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.8, 1/1250s] ISO 200)
Oyster Pond reef next to the entrance channel
Oyster Pond channel We've just made it past the shallow bits and are turning towards the entrance of Oyster Pond on St. Martin. Notice how close the breaking waves are to the markers, which one needs to stick close to during the entrance.
(2015-03-09 13:14:41 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/800s] ISO 200)
Oyster Pond channel
Relief after making the channel The entrance was challenging, but now behind us. The waves were between 1.5m and 2m with an onshore wind and breakers to the left and right.
(2015-03-09 13:14:24 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/1000s] ISO 200)
Relief after making the channel
Oyster Pond channel panorama A panoramic view of the channel to Oyster Pond. Notice the breaking waves right next to the channel markers!
(2015-03-09 13:14:05 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/3200s] ISO 200)
Oyster Pond channel panorama
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