We’ve been in Sint Maarten now for over two weeks and most of it has been devoted to boat projects. Getting our electrical system sorted took quite a bit of time – and lots of money however, during the process I finally tracked down a major flaw in the generator’s electrical circuits which had been causing it to intermittently shut down. There was a group of wires that had fused together, probably during the lightning strike and I happened to notice them arcing when just as the generator cut out. Chance in a million of spotting it – I guess our luck is good!!
We also spent a ton of dough on a new car – OK dinghy – but it’s a car for us. This is now our 5th dinghy of the year and we’re basically back to where we were at the beginning of the year with a hard bottom’ed Aluminum rib dinghy with a 15HP Yamaha two stroke. She goes like stink but is rather more squirly than the old Caribe due to being much lighter. We’ve relegated out Achilles inflatable to the lazarette – as a backup and if we need a good rowing dinghy…
Sint Maarten has it’s plusses and minuses. For getting boat work done, I don’t know of a better place. The chandleries are plentiful, huge and with great prices and there is technical help all over the place. It’s a great socializing spot too with loads of cruisers in the Lagoon and an active VHF net each morning run by Mike Shrimpy. We managed to sell our little 2.5HP outboard on the VHF net… There are bars and restaurants all over the place, so plenty of opportunity to meet other cruisers.
There are a bunch of OCC boats here and we have had several evenings out with them. New Year’s was great – with 6 boats at a very good Indian restaurant, Lal’s – good food at very reasonable prices. After dinner, we returned to Toodle-oo! to watch the fireworks which were set off from a barge just a couple of boats away from us. A bunch of Salty Dawgs have shown up in the past couple of days and we’re hoping to get together with them over the course of the next few days.
The down side is that the lagoon itself is nasty water with sewage all over. Toodle-oo! is now sporting a green beard at her stern – all of which has grown in the past 2 weeks. When we get out of here I’ll have to set to, cleaning the bottom. Another drawback is that it’s waaay too easy to spend a bunch of money! And finally, we’re right underneath the flight path for Sint Maarten Airport! Every time a jet goes over, conversation must be halted…
On the other hand, one of the most enjoyable days here was heading to the beach and bar on the other side of the runway – the jets come in really low with the start of the runway just yards from the beach. When they take off, the jet blast at the end of the runway has to be felt to be believed – the hot blast of air really tries to knock you off your feet… The local jets make a point of running up their engines before takeoff for way longer than is probably necessary!
We got to tour the island with Peter and Patty from Serendipitous – another Outbound 44 that was also on the Salty Dawg Rally from Virginia. We stopped in Philipsburg for a beer and to stock up on sea sickness meds and then had a great barbecue lunch in Grand Case.
Yesterday we decided to go out of the lagoon in search of a good beach. Initially we tried on the dinghy, but the surf was such that beaching her was rather too daunting so we gave up and walked to the beach instead. We had a very relaxing afternoon of people watching and swimming in clear water!