Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Winds

We are experiencing “Christmas Winds.” The weather has turned to be much like we had late in the crossing. Each day we get a smattering of rain. Most of the time it is fairly calm. Then we get a blast of wind in the 30 knot range. The expat locals tell me that this is normal of this time of year. In fact, they say, the winds have been quite mild so far. Even so I have taken to carrying my stuff in a dry bag in the dinghy and each morning I have to bail it out. I am also happy that I am on a mooring ball instead of at anchor.


When we came in there were a large number of megayachts. Apparently if you have a big sailboat you put an aircraft warning light on the top of the mast and light the mast itself to show yours is bigger than mine. This is also to give the common folks “spreader envy.” Reboot has only two spreaders, some of the megayachts have five or six. Of course the sailboats, although big, are nothing compared to the big power megayachts. There were rows of 250 foot and larger boats (ships?) med-moored or docked in the numerous marinas. Now almost all of them are gone – apparently to St. Barts for New Years. (You of course knew that one has to be in St. Barts for New Years.) The joke is that the St. Barts harbor is horrible during “Christmas Winds” and the harbormaster throws them all out if the weather gets bad to prevent damage to the harbor. So only the proletariat is left here in St. Maarten. The lagoon is large – before Hurricane Louis there were 1500 boats here. (Aside, the hurricane stalled over the lagoon for 24 hours, only 5 boats survived!)  It has been steadily filling up since our arrival.


The thrice daily activity is to go to the yacht club by the bridge and watch the megayahts – crew deployed with huge fenders on each side, bow thruster thrashing – navigate the bridge. It is like going to a NASCAR race. Everyone is really there for the accidents! Such accidents, fortunately, quite rare. Fortunate because if they hit the bridge a lot of boats could be trapped for many months while it was repaired.


Yesterday I went to Marigot and climbed the hill to Fort Louis with the Mullins. Built to keep the British and pirates from sacking Marigot (which they did on a regular basis) it shows the value of position in the 19th century. Built on top of a hill with minimal ramparts and only a couple of cannon it commanded all of the entrances into Marigot. The invaders could not shoot back as their guns would not bear up the hill. Strangely the only major action ever fought was totally with muskets, the cannon were never fired. Since the defenders were in a fortified position they took minimal losses while decimating the invading force.


Last night Sarah, Chris and Andre came over for dinner on Reboot. I figured that even I could boil some pasta and make an adequate sauce. So of course the propane ran out in the middle of cooking. A minor glitch, we changed to the other propane tank. Actually I was a bit surprised. We left Tenerife with two full propane tanks and I was concerned that we might run out during the transit. The excellent propane management skills of the crew resulted in our arrival still on the first tank. There is propane available here so getting the tank refilled is not a big deal. We had a nice dinner and then nightcaps in the cockpit.


Fair winds and following seas.

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