Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Perfect Sail to St. Martin

Oil tankers anchored in the distance waiting to unload.
One rolly night in St. Eustacia's was enough for us. We decided to skip Saba, which is known to be even rollier than most places. Once we sailed out and around all of the tanker ships waiting to unload their oil at the Stacia storage area and into the open between Stacia and Saba, we were off.

There are many tankers is this area as well as cruise ships so one has to be alert at night. It is very difficult for large ships to maneuver or even see a small (relative to their size) sailboat. We like to give them plenty of room. You cannot cut between the tankers and shore because sometimes there are long hoses unloading fuel.

These are the "big boys" you want to avoid - especially
in the dark! None of us have brakes out there!
It was a perfect day to sail northeast to St. Martin. In fact, the wind was on the beam again and we made the trip of 40 miles in 4.5 hours. We were flying! (I know, that doesn’t seem fast to you, but in a sailboat where you usually average 5.5-6 knots per hour, it was fast at 7.5 – 9 knots!)

The best part was setting the sails and letting her go! Once we had the course, there was nothing to do but keep an eye out for traffic. This is when you get to read a good book (and I have read many this winter!)

We did have one interesting event. A military helicopter came from nowhere, hovered over us, took a photo or two, and disappeared to somewhere! Who knows what that was about! Did we make a wrong turn or drive in the wrong lane? I wonder where that shot will turn up!

Sunrises and sunsets amaze me everyday!
Once back at
Simpson Bay, we anchored in the Bay rather than going into the lagoon. Dennis needed to access the Internet to prepare for a conference call on Monday, so it was off to Mickey D’s again for free Internet. Actually, their WiFi service is good and fast. And a milkshake seemed like the right refreshment! (Why do they never taste as good as you anticipate?)
Set the sails and let her fly!
Anchoring in Simpson Bay is not desirable! It is very, very rolly. But this time we did not want to be restricted by the drawbridge hours so we did not go into the lagoon. We just dropped the hook for the night and planned to leave at 5 am the next day. The longest leg of this trip is the one between St. Martin and the British Virgin Islands.

We hung out at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club for Happy Hour as it was Friday night and the crowd had gathered to watch the boats enter through the drawbridge. Then it was down the road for a barbeque dinner out. We tend to eat rather early - especially early by European standards - but we like getting back to the boat before it is too late. Otherwise, we end up trying to secure the dinghy in the dark.

Since we stayed at the restaurant a little too long , we had to raise the dingy to the foredeck and secure it in the dark. We had the deck lights on which lit up the whole area around the boat. Apparently the light attracted fish. One very large fish stayed along side, chasing the smaller ones. I think it may have been a Barracuda.

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