Dec 19-20: completing preparations in St. Maarten

Yesterday, December 19, was another day devoted to
boat preparations. Our rental car had to be back by
11:30 or we would have to pay for another day.
Renting a car is not cheap here. We organized our day
around the bridge opening times. At the first bridge
closing, we headed west away from the bridge in light
traffic, watching those heading east towards the
bridge lined up for a mile. We first stopped at the
sailmaker. Laura went in while I sat in the
double-parked car. Laura checked on his work and
found that he had gotten confused about what wed had
asked of him and had sewn a batten pocket closed. He
quickly set out to fix his error as we waited, but
that set us off of our tight schedule. From the
sailmaker we headed to a new supermarket we noticed on
the road to Marigot. It was the nicest one we had
seen and, with this one, we had seen them all. We
quickly loaded up the cart with 48 rolls of Charmin,
bananas, and other stuff that we grabbed off the
shelves quickly. Then back to the marina to unload
these new purchases plus those of the day before that
still filled the trunk. I also got 4 gallons of
diesel motor oil. The day was hot with passing
squalls, and we worked up a sweat hauling our load
onto the boat. We then left for the car rental place,
located on the other side of the bridge just 15
minutes before the next bridge closing. We walked
back to the marina and rested before setting out by
taxi to Budget Marine to pick up our new dinghy and
outboard engine, and a few marine odds and ends. They
now know us well at Budget Marine. We work mostly with
Rosemary and Andrew, who were very patient and
helpful. It took a while to get the dinghy all set up
at Budget Marine’s dock, and we had problems getting
the outboard to start for the first time. Finally it
sprang to life and we headed off across Simpson’s
Lagoon at the slowest possible speed. The manual says
that new outboards should be run at dead slow for the
first hour as part of the break-in process.

As we started the process of turning our mizzen
boom into a crane to haul the outboard onto the
transom of Sabbatical III, we starting talking with
Mike and Marlene in the boat next to ours. They have
been sailing out of St. Maarten for the past 14 years,
sailing around the islands for 6 months each winter
and spring before having their boat sailed back to the
States for them. They had some useful suggestions
about anchorages in St.Barths and elsewhere.

It is December 20th now, and we got lots done today
so it looks like we will push off to make the 9 am
bridge opening (the only other choices are 11:00 and
4:30). The weather is clear and hot and the wind has
moderated. “Farmer” (real name Elwyn Charles) came
by this morning to help to haul the big genoa out of
the sail locker and install some Dri-Deck on the
bottom of the locker to help keep the sail dry. While
we were at it, we emptied a number of lockers to make
sure everything is dry and mildew free, and left it
all sitting up on the deck for the day. Farmer is the
guy who watched over our boat since it arrived,
flushed our watermaker every week, and gave it a good
scrub. Everyone knows him at the marina and many
boaters trust him for all sorts of boat-keeping
responsibilities. His picture is attached, as is one
of the boat from across the dock (with our new AB
dinghy tied to the stern).

M.