Position : 18°02' N and 063°05' W
Day / Time : 23.03.2013 , 20:Mood : Don't Worry, be Happy !!
Sailing is to deal with constant change. Not that I don;t care for the bullsh.... I said yesterday.
No, not at all, but as a skipper you should always be prepared for the unforeseeable,
and dealing with it.
It's a good training for life if you are a younger person, and if you can manage a boat with crew for a while,
you can make it everywhere !
Like in New York !
Having arrived there however Ian - who had been sailing with us all the way from Gibraltar - and Jim decided not to cross back over the Atlantic any more.
Well , just a change you need to deal with.
So we got Marina, a german sailor, as a new crew member, and then on Friday 15th of March Olaf from Ireland rejoined us - he had been on the boat between Malta and Gibraltar.
Just in time to celebrate St Patrick's Day.
And then luck struck again, as I met by accident another female sailor, Kataryna from Poland, who I knew from Mallorca , and who will be joining us later in the week.
So the boat was complete again in no time, and ready to leave for Europe,
the wind had changed in the meantime to North East :
meaning straight against us with waves up to 4 m high.
FORGET ABOUT IT !
But as a general lecture in life
I have learnt
that out of everything bad
soon something good comes,
if you lean back for a moment, relax and review your situation.
NEVER RUSH !!!
And here we are.
We were leaving nonetheless, but we got back to our original plan :
We were able to get with this wind very fast to
St Barth and Sint Marteen.
It is not exactly on the route back to Europe,
but it is only a minor diversion with the advantage
that I could train the new crew.
Great, let's go folks,
Master Mike is back in business !!!
It was used by pirates as a base to spend their fortunes here quickly.
The famous infamous and previously mentioned Captain Montbars " The Exterminator" had his base here.
He vanished in a hurricane, and most of his treasures with him.
Or are they still hidden on the island ?
Keep digging folk, keep digging !
But a "Pirate Place" it still is.
People , specifically rich american tourists ( 80 % ) , come here for the shopping or to buy porperty here, as all is tax and duty free .
But be alarmed.
The prices are higher than elsewhere, so that even the rich Russians started to complain a few years ago.
Well folk, you can't have it all, but when you see the shopkeeper wearing a golden Rolex, then what do you exopect ?
They buy cheap land close to an airport and then complain about the noise.
They are happy about their own house value going up whilst being aghast about the steep house price increases elsewhere when they want to move on,
Politicians privatise Water and Electricity, and are surprised when prices go up, whilst these companies produce record profits for their shareholders and their managment receiving huge bonuses for achieving just that,
DO YOU WANT TO HEAR MORE ?
Better not : As in "Snow White", a mirror always hurts !!!!!!
Columbus gave the island its name during his second voyage , some say after the holy St Bartolomeo, others say after his brother with the same name
( who accompanied him actually).
And again, we had that argument before,
so I go for the 'brother theory'.
Anyway, only some french settlers around 1685 had some interest in this island, and basically it stayed French ever since with the exception of a swedish interlude.
In 1784 King Louis XVI ceded the island and its 600 inhabitants to Sweden in return for some obscure trading rights in Gothenburg.
The Swedes figured out the strategic importance of a free harbour, created one in Gustavia ( named after the Swedish King Gustav III ) where all trade could come through despite the ongoing wars in the region, and they made a fine profit.
When all had settled down,
Sweden sold the island back to France in 1877.
I call that "double Jackpot",
quite unusual for Swedes,
ask the Finns !!!!
By the way, do you realise that all comical PEOPLE have as their first name "Charles" ?
And then we arrived in St Marteen, the dutch side of the island ( the other one is France ).
And if you like a crossbreed between Benidorm, Torrelmolinos, Mallorca and Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria, then you are in the right place.
1 Million visitors on a 49 square miles island.
Forget about it !
Big and small cruise ships all over, loud music,
lager louts, you name it.
But the entry into Simpson Bay is interesting, as you have to go through a little (dutch) bridge, like the ones they have over their canals in Holland.
The only difference is that the Bridge Master does not collect a "kwatje" ( used to be 0.25 Guilders ) with the wooden dutch shoe hanging on a fishing rod.
Nevertheless Sint Marteen is the last of the Leeward Islands looking north,
and the last one we will have visited, meaning with the exception of a few like Statia ( Dutch ), Saba (Dutch ) and previously St Vincent, we have now concluded the whole journey through the Lesser Antilles.
My thoughts are already wondering to our return journey.
And it is an early crossing.
The "normal" departure time back to Europe is May / June, via the Azores. The reason is the weather.
The Azores High at that time is well established north of the Azores, keeping all the West-East-going depressions at bay and driving them north east towards Iceland, and one can sail almost up to Ireland with westerly or south-westerly winds
( In weather depressions the wind goes anti-clockwise ).
The High is below the Azores, letting all the strong winds with often 50-80 knots and more
crashing over the Azores.
So there are two options for us :
Either we take on the very strong winds and head for the Azores ,
or we stay around 25 degrees North ( slightly lower than Gran Canaria )
and making east, both under engine, and sometimes under sail with south-westerly tail wind from one of these passing lows in the north.
Of course we have chosen the latter.
At least for the moment.
But that is only theory.
The actual situation can vary, and we only know when we are already on our way.
As our weather-forecaster from the Isle of Wight , "Stokey" , wrote me :
May the Gods be with you.
Thank's, that's what I call "comforting".
So we will be leaving today in the afternoon and our aim is to go straight to Gibraltar ,
or via Madeira as an interim stop.
All good comes to an end at one point in time.
We have seen good and bad, and won't forget :
Memories last forever !
you city dwellers, disco goers and comfort seekers,
but at the same time we hope to have wetted your appetite for some adventures,
be it in the Caribbean or elsewhere.
You will not hear from me now for some three or four weeks, the time it takes to do the crossing.
But if you have been a constant reader you should know by now how it works.
And if you don't hear from me at all any more, well, then Stockey was right :
MAY THE GODS BE WITH YOU !