Pages

Monday, January 24, 2011

BECAUSE IT IS THERE .................................



For almost two weeks we have been anchored in the lee of the "Witch's Tit", that hill that begs to be climbed ..................... The French have it marked on their charts as "Mont Fortune" ............And finally that day came, when the wind had dropped and being blown off the top would probably not happen .............. Though on the way up we did pass the skeletons of several goats who all love this kind of climbing .............Right at the very top there were droppings by the bucketful .............. Spectacular views by the bucketful also ............... Check out the video panorama at the end of the posting .......... A good climb with the only danger being the ever-present thorn bushes and cacti ................ Captain Arnd joined us for the hike .............



There is not a lot to say, except maybe some heavy breathing .................. Goes to show how much we are out of practice doing any real exercise .................. Might have to do another mountain real soon ..............



There is something about sailors and rum ................. Look at the old sugar cane mill we found in Grande Case, on the French side ......... We found some rum made in St. Martin ...............Very, very delicious in hand-painted bottles ............. Had a drop or too but nowhere near the sailors of old .............. Read this one .............

Naval History
WOODEN SHIPS AND IRON MEN
The following is from a tale related by the Chief Curator of the National Park Service, and printed in no less an authoritative source than "Oceanographic Ships, Fore and Aft", published by the Oceanographer of the Navy. It has to do with a cruise of the 204-foot frigate USS Constitution, commonly known as Old Ironsides, in 1779. The quote:
On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass English shipping.
On 6 October, she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later the Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 6,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.
On 18 November, the ship set sail for England where her crew captured and scuttled 12 English merchant vessels and took aboard their rum.
But the Constitution had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid. Here her landing party captured a whiskey distillery, transferred 40,000 gallons aboard and headed for home.
On 20 February 1780, the Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no whiskey. Just 48,600 gallons of water
.



Booze consumption -- 2.26 gallons per MAN per day (plus whatever they “rescued” from the 12 English merchant ships).......................And did you notice that they arrived back with exactly the same amount of water as when they left ...............

AND ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT WE WENT TO SEE THE FACTORY WHERE THAT DELICIOUS RUM IS MADE IN CUL-DE-SAC, ON THE FRENCH SIDE ..........




And when we finally found the place it was no more than a ramshackle house next to a little painted out-house filled with shelves of delightful bottles and hand painted shot glasses............... Somewhere under the main house is where the stuff is blended ............... ACCESS DENIED ..... took a quick photo over the fence ............. Well, we had to at least try ...........



Saw Ile FOUCHUE and Ile ST. BARTS in the distance ................. Our next destination as soon as our long awaited parts arrive ................



Drinking rum from unknown sources required you to take a look at yourself from time to time ...............And just in case, we ............. You know, fall overboard while celebrating Australia Day on January 26th ........ Laurie has re-made the life rings with brand new vinyl covers ............. Don't they just look awesome ............ The "Queen" has far too many talents to list here ................

video
video

Thursday, January 20, 2011

TWO WEEKS AND STILL WAITING .......................



Not so long ago "MARI-CHA III" was the fastest sailing yacht in the world, setting a great many records for a monohull including the Trans-Atlantic crossing, doing that passage in just over 9 days .................(Check out the size of it by seeing the bicycles on the foredeck) ............ That same record fell recently to a French trimaran that did the same passage in 3 days, 3 hours and 37 minutes (or close to that) .......... Leaves you wondering if they ever actually touched the water.................. Another record was recently set in "Grande Anse" (Big Bay beach) in St. Martin where the "Queen of Florida and the Bahamas" was momentarily escorted by four French 'Gendarmes' ............. The occassion was a street festival in preparation of " Grande Carnivale" to be held later next month in all the French Islands .............. We strolled through the waterfront street and caught a glimpse of the ocean swimming pool, tethered and fully surrounded by plastic floats .............



Restaurant keepers and stall owners were out in full................ Giving you the low-down on all the specials in fluent French ................. Very colourful, very loud and very French .....................Amazingly we think that all the European smokers have escaped to St. Martin and are catching up on the times they were restricted ..............Robin Williams, puts it so beautifully when he said about the French in his comedy skit " We give a cigarette to the baby, here my Darling suck on it, we don't care, 'Life is sheet', get used to it "............ You have to go into a bathroom if you want to escape the smoke zone ...............DO NOT GO OUT IN THE OPEN .............. Our Aussie friends Peter and Sandra on the Yacht "BONDI TRAM" took us to the street carnivale in their rented car ..............



Now you may not have a car, but you can still put out great music by linking your 'ipod' to a battery powered speaker system on your extended bicycle ............. Big speaker in the the 5-gallon bucket and the sub-woofer just behind ............. There was plenty to listen to and plenty to see, for young and for old ................



Back in Simpson Lagoon there is this volcanic peak known as "Witch's Tit" that begs to be climbed ................It really is steep, and our friend Arnd almost made it to the top ..................... Double-click on the photo to enlarge it still further ................ It definitely is not insurmountable ..........



So while the wind still howls outside we do the repairs on our awnings, replacing the windscreen in the dodger and the canvas over the cockpit ................... Teamwork in the sewing department ............... Joined the French couple on the boat " VARDES" next to us, for sundowners ...............Sailing and living the artistic dream on an exquisite laminated plywood marvel .............. The French yacht, has a beautiful interior, very well laid out and thought out .................



And if you think you have seen it all, well here's a new one ...............A super yacht tender towing a floating platform with an exercise machine on it ................ It was loaded from the 'garage' on a superyacht "SLIPSTREAM" to be taken to shore for repair ............... Now that was an 'exercise' in itself ................

We know how lucky we really are, for the 'Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow' slid right past us ............................. We could almost have touched it ............ May be next time..................... And yesterday who should slide out under the opening bridge on the Dutch side of the lagoon ? ................. None other than 'LAURA BEKKER' the 15-yr old Dutch girl on her way round the world to set the new record as the youngest ever single-handed circumnavigator .............. Still trying to work out why she called her yacht "GUPPY" ............ Her yacht is nowhere near as small as a guppy ....... The other people on board were a video crew as she went through the bridge opening to anchor again outside in the bay ................

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PUTTING OUT MORE CHAIN ..........................



When the wind picked up even more we sought shelter in Simpson Lagoon, by entering on the French side through a draw-bridge .................. The silty bottom is poor holding at best, and lots of anchor chain is out .............. Now all we have to do is keep our ample swing room by ensuring that no other yacht anchors close by .............. Lots of yachts are entering the lagoon but no-one is leaving ............ The beautiful sunset is the herald of more bad weather to come ...................... Winds keep pumping at 25-30 knots in strong gusts that jerk us around in all directions ................ It still beats being outside in Marigot bay where the swell is now rolling in ................. Going ashore however, brings its own pleasures, despite the strong winds ..............



Looking up at FORT LOUIS in Margot Bay and when we walked through town we saw another first for us ................ A mobile service station .......... The truck drops the tank full of gasoline off somewhere and somebody then connects the big hose to a standard bowser pump ............Then you just drive up and fill your car, boat or toy. These tanks are then changed out when they are empty just like your gas bottle .............



The French West Indies are certainly different ................. Ask for a 'Smoothy' and they fill it till it runs over the top, ask for a beer and it will cost less than a bottle of water ................ Check out the signboard .......... And as for lobster,......... Well, how many would you like ....... The price is the same at $US 20.00 per kilo (That's $10.00/lb) ................



Our friend Arnd from the yacht "ZANSHIN" had rented a car and invited us to tour the island with him to see the spectacular views on the French side overlooking stormy bays and sheltered lagoons ..........



Now at some time during a hurricane, this yacht was swept over the reef and driven up into the hillside ............ This is where is still sits ............ But not abandoned by any means ........... The owner has simply readjusted his lifestyle ............There is now a driveway alongside the yacht where he parks his car, stairs to get up to the cockpit and the dog guards the territory from the foredeck ............... Sailor turned landlubber .............





Watching planes come in and take off from St. Maarten has its own pleasures .................For a Boeing 747 taking off you can see real beach erosion ................. So when you see this sign, it is not meant to imply that they throw passengers off the flight ....................... Then again if the plane doesn't quite make it .... Well, you can always start another restaurant ................... Let's hope they serve more than just peanuts ...............



Nothing is as cute as seeing some juvenile waif walking down the street with a delicious French baguette almost as large as she is and when it comes to accommodation ................Well, if all else fails you can simply string your hammock on a street corner and make the most of it ............... After all this is the FRENCH WEST INDIES ............... and as they say "C'EST LA VIE "