Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | January 18, 2012

Time in Port

N 18° 03.77′   W 63° 05.31′

Simpson Bay Lagoon, Marigot, St. Martin


It is HOWLING again today. So glad we are snug in the Lagoon!!

Days in port go by quickly. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we accomplish a great deal. There are never ending boat chores, cleaning, polishing and routine maintenance. There is always more that could be done. It seems that every week at least one new problem requires investigation. The hot water has a brown tinge at times – perhaps the water heater is rusting? A bilge pump failed. The shower pump broke. The oven seal detached. On and on. Such is a boat.

Routine chores on my list include cleaning the dinghy, maintaining the stainless and keeping the hull free from rust stains. When we leave the dinghy in the water 24 hours a day it must be hauled out periodically and scrubbed to keep barnacles from growing on the bottom. In the Lagoon this has to be done at least weekly. The stainless is easy to keep up, except for the windows that can only be reached from the dinghy. If the stainless is clean then the hull stays free of those nasty brown rust streaks. We are planning to switch to a new product (Semco) for easier maintenance of the teak rails and trim, and waiting for the harsh Caribbean conditions to help remove the old Cetol finish. Sanding and sealing the teak will be a big future project.

Bob continues to handle the mechanical systems and I still feel very inept in this area. I bug him to let me observe and assist, and he has referred me to the various manuals which I have downloaded and am working to read and digest. Sadly, observing an occasional procedure doesn’t lead to competence. I am threatening to make a video library of these tasks going forward. For now he has graciously turned over toilet repairs to me.   He referred me to the Peggy Hall Head Mistress materials and said I can take over as the Mar Azul’s Head Mistress.   I can hardly wait for the next malfunction.

Being in one place for so long we sometimes want to do different things. Needing a chauffeur to get to shore is annoying.  Just like at home, it seems that when we venture out in the “family car”, the man drives. I didn’t have a chance to take my turn and feel comfortable operating the dinghy. Bob felt the best way to learn was to simply go out solo and play around but I insisted on being the driver for some of our shore trips together before setting off alone. Oh, how humiliating that was for him to be seen with a woman at the tiller, grinding gears.

The hardest part about operating a dinghy is getting it started. Before this trip we replaced our old and very cranky dinghy motor that often required a dozen or so pulls and some tinkering to get it going with an electric start motor. SO much easier. I still prefer having company on shore excursions but is it nice not to feel boat-bound. The Lagoon is a pretty safe place to travel and I don’t have to worry about drifting out to sea if the motor fails.

I am still working to better understand French, having put aside Spanish for the moment. Studying two foreign languages at once is too confusing for me.  French is helpful in St-Martin, although not essential, since English is widely spoken. With our dog travel issues, we plan to favor the French islands as we hop south, and expect to need French even more in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Somewhere there are bits of five years of high school French in my brain. Kathy Parsons’ French for Cruisers is a great resource for learning nautical terminology and phrases for needs ashore. Listening is the hardest skill for me, and tuning into the French VHF radio transmissions provides good practice. I have a long way to go.

Bob got an Ipad for Christmas/his birthday and the device has been glued to his hands since it arrived. There are nautical applications as well as the usual stuff.  Internet access while in port is very important to us. I’m not sure how cruisers years ago survived without it. Reliable and speedy access has been a constant problem along the way. It is apparently made worse here in St-Martin during the busy season with powerful wifi signals from the mega yachts creating extra interference. We hear that internet access will only get more challenging as we head south and Bob is researching some possible solutions.

We have enjoyed meeting other people, boaters and locals, and have found a diverse group in terms of nationalities and backgrounds. We have met cruisers of all ages, young couples, retirees, some still working or running businesses while traveling, families with children aboard, delivery captains and crews, and single-handed cruisers including a woman who chooses to travel alone since her husband passed away. It is such fun to hear their perspective and learn about their lives and travels.

We met up with Sharon and Andy, fellow Defever Cruisers, on Finally Fun as they passed through St. Martin. We have been following their blog with interest since they have been to many destinations we plan to visit in the coming months and Sharon provides wonderful and detailed reports. They introduced us to several other boating couples who are also heading south. We all shared a ride to participate in Mardis de Grand Case, a Tuesday night Street Festival held in the village of Grand Case during the busy season. The trip via land was great since we didn’t have to worry about leaving the dinghy, and the Tuesday experience was extra special.

The Festival was an interesting blend of tourists and locals including families with small children. There was music and entertainment in the streets, even a bounce house for the kids. Shops stayed open late, and vendors set up tables with all sorts of arts, crafts,jewelry and clothing. There was a much better array of products than we have found at the Marigot and Phillipsburg tourist markets. If one wished to find a unique souvenir, that was the place. Vendors had various infused rums and liquors, and provided free tastings. All sorts of hot and cold food items were available for sale from little tables set up along the road side. We dined at a recommended Creole BBQ restaurant, Talk of the Town, which was delicious.


Crowds and vendors fill the waterfront street in Grand Case which is closed to traffic during the Tuesday night Street Festival. The local towns still display Christmas decorations.

A lesson in crepe cookery. Oh, for a bigger boat stove!

A parade of dancers in colorful costumes lent a carnival atmosphere to the festivities


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