Monday, May 20, 2013

Another Stroll Through St. Martin/Sint Maarten

February - April, 2013
So the gauntlet has been thrown down! A special thanks to Deana on Storyville for guilting me into blogging again. :-) She's called a few of us out for not writing much lately, so hopefully everyone will take her good-natured taunts to heart and get some posts out there. It's always fun to see what our friends have been up to, and other sailor's blogs provide both entertainment and useful tidbits to the rest of us out here on the water.

Yes, we're back in St. Martin/Sint Maarten, anchored on the (cheaper) French side and playing on the (safer, more fun) Dutch side. It's always good to come back here, where marine stores are plentiful and - thanks to an abundance of mega-yachts - supermarkets and wine shops offer anything you can imagine. Having missed the St. Martin Heineken Regatta last year due to weather, we made sure to give ourselves plenty of time and arrived in mid-February. We soon fell into the same routines as last year...showarmas at Little Jerusalem, where Abraham and Cathy greeted us like long-lost children; happy hours at Barnacles, where the bar staff may have changed, but was even better than ever; and the usual cruiser get-togethers for open mic night, musical jam sessions, flea markets, and the like. We planned to stay until mid-March, at which point we would head for Antigua and the next big regatta week. Oh, how plans are made in Jello!

First of all, a note about the Heineken Regatta. It's a great week of sailing during the day and partying at night. Our friend Runyon from Ghost came down to stay with Island Dream, and we spent most of our time watching the regatta with them. The five of us crammed into a tiny Hyundai and followed the yachts in the around-the-island race, stopping for an ooh-la-la picnic lunch of brie, foie gras, salami, and baguettes (and, of course, a bit of wine) on the French side. At night, we joined the revelers at the Heineken-sponsored parties. We still haven't figured out how the race teams can party all night and still manage to perform the next morning. Maybe that's why the races don't start until after 10am. :-)

The festivities continued a week later when friends and sailors-to-be, Damon and Marcie, came down to stay with Deana and Troy on Storyville. We always love to see them, and had a great time watching them fall effortlessly into the cruiser lifestyle. Living in a 300-square-foot space and obsessing about weather and water/energy usage - albeit in beautiful places - isn't for everyone, but Damon and Marcie will be perfect at it. (We promise, guys - we'll even have our guest room in working order the next time you visit!) The only downer to their visit was a break-in to our rental car while we were visiting Phillipsburg. Shame on us for not having downloaded the regatta pictures...or the pictures of the KLM 747 landing over Maho Beach (thank goodness Rene still has some on the big camera)...or any of the other 250 shots, ALL of which disappeared with our stolen camera. Damn thieves!

St. Martin also gave us an opportunity for some boat work. Rene did a complete reorganization of the lazarette and cabins while Stacy flew back to the States for a family visit. Sint Maarten Sails also did a fantastic job designing us a new bimini and dodger (it even matches up with our existing side panels - thank you!), and Darnell from Island Dream went above and beyond the call of friendship when she helped Rene clean the boat after a double bug-bomb that was supposed to (but didn't quite) rid us of some obnoxious powder post beetles in our walls. BTW, if anyone has any info on how to get rid of those little bastards once an for all...HELP!

So about leaving for the Antigua Classics Regatta... a few days before we left, we had our outboard serviced at Island Water World. We'd bought the engine there last year, and wanted to have it checked out before continuing down-island. Everything checked out fine, until it seized two days later. First we were told we'd blown a head-gasket, and oops, sorry, we were 11 days out of warranty. Crap!! Once they opened the engine up, however, they realized that we had much longer-term damage that indicated we may've had a leaky valve from the start. The shop fought with Nissan USA to treat it as a warranty issue; IWW wanted to give us a brand new engine, while Nissan wanted to re-build it. Multiple phone calls later, Nissan USA finally got on board with a new engine...only to be told by Nissan Japan (home office) that it wasn't going to happen. It took two weeks to come to a resolution, but we finally reached a compromise that got us a new engine and even a new warranty. A HUGE thank you to Brad (maintenance) and Erwin (store manager) at Island Water World for all their help. If not for their support and constant back-and-forth with Nissan, we would've been stuck having to pay full price for a new engine.

And now for the real excitement: once we leave St. Martin, we'll be in virgin territory as far as our boat is concerned. There will definitely be more pictures - and more blogging - as we travel down-island towards hurricane season in Grenada. Til next time...

For those of you going to St. Martin, here a few more of our favorite spots:
- The beach accessible from Barnacles: cross the street and keep walking west til you hit sand
- Maho Beach: always worth a trip to watch the KLM 747 fly in on TUE, FRI, & SUN
- Mark's Place: for melt-in-your-mouth ribs; in the parking lot of the Grande Marche between Simpson Bay & Phillipsburg
- Soggy Dollar Bar at Palapa Marina: for great mega-yacht watching and dollar beers
- Rancho: the Argentinian steakhouse next to Palapa, for a fantastic meal out
- Golden Apple: if you're dying for some good Chinese; cross the street at Barnacles, go straight to the next block & turn left
- Skip Jack's: for that extra-special seafood meal out, with its own dinghy dock just past the Dutch bridge

Feel free to enjoy more of our pictures of Sint Maarten and Carnival.

No comments: