Browsed by
Tag: saint martin

Night sail to the BVIs

Night sail to the BVIs

We restocked in Saint Martin before heading off, also doing laundry on land, collecting some full gas bottles and filling up jerry cans with water a couple of times. We were having so much “fun” doing these chores that we almost missed the bridge opening on the French side to let us leave the lagoon.

Just a few minutes before the bridge opened we made it into the queue, though it felt list a lot of rushing around on land, and we didn’t manage to tumble dry any of our laundry like we wanted to.

Not the most exciting of pictures, but with all of the rushing around we didn’t take many.

We headed out through the bridge at 5pm and anchored just outside so that we could start getting the boat ready including stowing the shopping, and eat some dinner before starting to sail.

The plan was to mostly run (straight downwind) all the way to the BVIs.

Ideally, we would do this with 2 headsails up, our genoa and larger ghoster, so before the sun set we also prepared the poles to keep these sails more stable and stop them from flapping around on the crossing.

There are no pictures of this amazing setup that night, however, there are some from the following morning but with the ghoster already lowered, and also some great shadow puppets on the sails from the middle of the night.

The sail itself was a breeze, setting off at around 7pm once away from the weird wind that was happening near the shore of Saint Martin we put both head sales up and wouldn’t need to adjust until after sunrise the following day.

Overnight we once again tried our 6 hour watch cycle which also worked a charm and we both managed to get plenty of sleep.

We headed straight to Spanish Town where would do all of the normal formalities checking into the country. and spent the night in the Spanish Town anchorage.

Just south of Spanish town there is a tourist attraction called “The Baths” which we were keen to explore.

The Baths are a popular tourist attraction and are known for their unique geological formations, including giant granite boulders that form natural tidal pools, tunnels, and grottoes. The area is also home to white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring.

We moved Hannah slightly down the island, anchoring around what felts like hundreds (but actually just 10s) of catamarans and swam over to the beach from which you could enter the baths.

It was great fun exploring the boulders, walkways, sandy beaches and little pools.

Off we went again, to a gathering on a beach we had organized with some other boat freinds.

In total 5 boats and 10 people were in attendance on a beach on Peter Island (Hannah Penn, Danae, Blue Note, Extress, Escapade)

Once again, there was lots of catching up to do as some of us had not seen each other in some weeks, or even months.

We did a potluck, which is where each guest brings a dish of food to share with everyone. In a potluck, the dishes are usually not coordinated or pre-planned, so guests may bring anything from appetizers to desserts. The idea is to create a shared meal where everyone contributes something, and there is usually a lot of variety and abundance of food.

There was bread, dips, pate, cheese, a cheesy spinach bake, potatoes, tuna salad, pasta and more.

And of course, there was a fire!

Much more to come from the BVIs, and we are happy to report that the night of the fire was 20th April, and at the time of writing this it is the 2nd of May, so we are nearly caught up. We might even be setting off back across the Atlantic in as little as 3 days, but only the weather can determine that!

Island water world, West to East Seminar

Island water world, West to East Seminar

Right after dropping off our quad bike, we headed across the lagoon by dinghy to Island water world (a chandlery) which was putting on a free seminar about a west-to-east Atlantic crossing, including free drinks and snacks, so naturally we had to attend.

We didn’t see Blue Note or Extress there, but did once again meet up with Saga who were anchored outside the lagoon on the Fench side.

The seminar was run by 2 people, one of which has done one of two crossings, but the other who has done 19 since 2003.

There were various approaches discussed by the 2 hosts and also the audience, but the one we are likely to follow (roughly already the plan) is to stick close to the Azores high so you have enough wind to sail, but you can always head further into the high to avoid any approaching low pressures.

One person in the audience promoted their option of motoring all the way through the high, this way you get lovely flat seas, but light winds and you’re going to be burning lots of fuel!! To motor 2400 miles on Hannah, we would estimate some fuel usage at around 1440 litres. This would mean something like 60 jerry cans on deck to be sure.

There were some useful sites discussed.

You can find all of the notes from the session on the Our Life At Sea website.

After the seminar, someone from Island Water World did their seemingly yearly liferaft demonstration where they set off some old and new liferafts to let people see what happens.

They lead with an old liferaft first, which experienced a similar set of malfunctions to the old liferaft that used to be aboard Hannah before we replaced it. These include tearing of the floor, tearing of some tubes, and lack of full inflation.

They also inflated a coastal liferaft. The most noticeable visible difference being the lack of an inflated roof/spray hood.

And last but not least an off-shore liferaft complete with a roof. (Obviously, there are other differences., but that’s for the technical specs of life raft manufacturers to tell you.

We had a quick beer with Saga after being in the sunshine for far too long, cruised back to the boats and started to think more about our upcoming crossing.

Remember, you can subscribe to this blog to get updates by email!

The Adventures of Saint Martin

The Adventures of Saint Martin

On recent islands, we hadn’t necessarily explored everything the islands had to offer. It’s been a long time since we rented a car, and we knew we wanted to explore Satin Martin more.

Our aim for this day was to go and see some parrots in the parrot park, we were prepared to walk the whole way, or maybe get a taxi, bus etc, but as we were walking to get some cash from an ATM we saw some quad bike rental!

For $100 USD for 24 hours, this seemed like a bargain, as it would easily get us to all of the parts of the island that we wanted to see. (Don’t worry parents, yes we had helmets and this is just a posed picture).

We lapped the whole island, but let’s take you through the journey step by step.

On the way to our parrot park, we found a lovely high viewpoint called Bell’s lookout point. Bell’s Lookout Point in Saint Martin is a popular attraction that offers stunning panoramic views of Philipsburg, the harbor, and the Caribbean Sea.

Heading further inland we made our way to Parotte Ville Bird Park, one of the main things we wanted to try and see on the island.

Neither of us has ever experienced something quite like the bird park. It’s kind of similar to a butterfly house, but bigger and for all kinds of parrots and parrot lookalikes.

You get a little cup of birdseed, and within moments of entering through the doors, you’ll have a bird perched on the edge of your cup nibbling away.

We took far too many pictures to show you them all, but here are some of our favorites…

We spent quite some time here and ate our packed lunch of tasty wraps here before continuing on a big loop of the island.

On our way we saw a rather beaten-down marina, we assume all broken due to the recent hurricane.

Looking it up online now, it’s called Oyster Pond Marina. It was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The marina suffered extensive damage to its docks, facilities, and infrastructure, and many boats and yachts were destroyed or damaged.

Continuing around the island counter-clockwise, there were many other lovely protected and shallow coves with crystal clear waters.

One of the best ways to get a view of an island is often from the highest point. (The lowest points of places are also often great, but the lagoon ticks that box)

As far as we could tell the highest point was called Pic Paradis at 424 meters. We headed straight there and encountered an interesting sign on the way…

Lucky for us we are not in a car! So we continued on our all-terrain quad bike!!!!

It turns out a quad bike was perfect for this little trail and in around 5 minutes we had made it to the top.

Once again, some great views

From the top, you can see many neighboring islands including the Saba, St. Eustatius, and Anguilla.

Also, this very interesting round marina.

We were late for a drinks gathering with Blue Note, Extress, and some other Dutch boats, so sped back down the hill as the sun set meeting them at a bar, then dinghying to a br for some food, moving to another bar, and so on… Wanting to make the most of our quad bike hire we made sure to end our night early enough to get up and do things the following day.

In the morning we got a SubWay (a rare occurrence) and headed to a beach called Maho Beach. This is a popular tourist attraction due to its unique location, as planes taking off and landing at Princess Juliana International Airport fly low over the beach, providing a thrilling experience. (You have probably seen videos of people here)

Fortunately, before needing to return the quad bike, we were able to see a plane landing.

And also taking off…

Now, that’s plenty of adventure for one blog post, so let’s leave it here with us returning the quad bike mid-way through the day!

The lagoon of Saint Martin

The lagoon of Saint Martin

Saint Martin is a beautiful island in the Caribbean that has gained notoriety as the filming location for the TV show Below Deck. The show has showcased the island’s stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and luxurious lifestyle, making it a popular destination for fans of the show.

We set off from St Kitts as the sun was setting, ready for a night sail to Saint Martin.

This was the first passage that we tried 6 hour watches for. We knew that we would only need 1 night sail, so being able to get a full 6 hours sleep each sounded quite nice. Adam stayed up until about 2am, with Kathryn keeping watch from 2am until 8am (ish). The passage was smooth sailing most of the way, but with a fair few gybes in the first hours.

We decided to stay on the French side as clearing into and out of the country here would be easy (a similar experience to other french islands with a computer and little paperwork), so on arrival we anchored on the outside of the french bridge into the lagoon, as we would need to wait until the evening or following day to enter through the bridge.

This is not the only bridge option… The first bridge is located in Marigot on the French side (our choice). The second bridge is a swing bridge that connects the Dutch side of the island to the French side. The third bridge is located near the airport on the Dutch side.

We dinghied to shore to check in, and have a little look aroud, and found outselves at a delicious pizza place! No bridge activity for us until the morning (this one only opens twice a day).

We made it through the bridge just fine, though it was very tight for a catamaran infront of us…

While contemplating where to anchor, the monohull 1 boat ahead of us decided to go north and imediatly grounded on the bottom. So rather than follow them into what seemed like shallower waters, we headed south.

The Navionics chart with sonar chart overlay is pretty good for the channel that should be dredged. On top of this, we added some fresh depth soundings to te Navionics “active captain” community overlay.

We anchored close to a small bit of land for a little bit of shelter in around 2-3m of water, so not much space under Hannah keel, but also we were back in a flat anchorage! (with the exception of the odd incosiderate motorboat that would drive through the lagoon too fast).

Next it was time for a long awaited boat job. Parts of the cabin top had some old holes form old rigging hardware etc that needed re filling. They were filled in the past but in the UV sun light whatever was in them had started degrading. We have had some fresh filler onboard for some time now to use, and this was the perfect oppourtunity.

We don’t have a comparible before pictures, but here you can seen the holes nicely filled with a gelcoat filler.

We havn’t seen Blue Note in quite some time (except for a brief chat in Antigua), but we once again found ourselves anchored next to them as they came through to the French side of the lagoon from the Dutch side.

We made a pasta bake, had some beers and a catchup as the sunset.

The following day we were also once again joined by Extress, all anchored in a little triangle.

More catching up, eating, drinking and chatting.

But the rest of Saint Martin will come in future posts!

Remember, you can subscribe to these posts by email! It’s not long until we start sailing in the Atlantic again heading back to Europe, and this time we will be trying to blog along the way!