Our batteries continued to plague us. We were frustrated that we needed to recharge them so often, and we were upset that we may have been screwed out of $600 for 2 bad batteries in Ft. Lauderdale. We were advised to get golf cart batteries as a solid, but economical, solution. Frank and Patti, our friends from Tortola, were sailing with us to the Leeward Islands, so we decided to wait and buy them duty-free when we reached St. Martin.
Frank and Patti needed a few days to take care of some business before they could leave, so Mike and Linda sailed over to a lovely anchorage at St. John called Water Lemon Cay. We enjoyed snorkeling the reef and swam with a large sea turtle. We saw an abundance of large fan coral, brain coral, barrel sponges, elkhorn coral, sea urchins, and many colorful reef fish. We also sailed to Jost Van Dyke Island and anchored at Manchioneel Bay. This anchorage is home to Foxy's Taboo Bar and Restaurant. From the beach you can hike a short distance to a secluded spot known as the Bubbly Pool. Waves rush through an opening in the rocks creating a jacuzzi pool. (see picture in this month's photo album) This anchorage also offered great entertainment watching the pelicans dive for fish. It was a non-stop feeding frenzy. Six to ten would dive one after another in a row like machine gun fire. Linda got some great video footage.
We picked up Frank and Patti at Nanny Cay fuel dock and sailed over to Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda for the night. We met up with Kyle and Gidget Jachney (of Hylas Offshore Yachts Company) who were vacationing on Virgin Gorda, in a Hylas yacht, of course! The following afternoon we left the Virgin Islands and set sail for the Leeward Islands. This would be an overnight sail plotted for a mid-morning arrival in St. Barthelemy (St. Barts). We were beating to windward with an uncomfortable chop and a heavy heel, but we had good wind and averaged 6 to 7 knots most of the night under sail. Frank and Patti took the first watch, Mike relieved Frank at 11 p.m., and Linda took over at 4 a.m. We arrived in Gustavia, St. Barts at 9:30 a.m. under cloudy skies.
We spent 2 days in St. Barts and the weather never got really beautiful. It was either cloudy, grey, or raining. But we didn't let a little thing like weather stop us from having a great time. St. Barts is French and expensive. The harbor is filled with incredible megayachts. The little shops sell clothing and items with astronomical price tags. A simple plain sleeveless cotton tank top was $186. The 'cheap' souvenir t-shirt was $30. Guess we won't be wearing anything that says St. Barts! We rented a jeep for the day to drive around the island. Naturally, we had to start with lunch at Le Select. This is the restaurant credited for Jimmy Buffett's song "Cheeseburger in Paradise". (see pics) We drove to the top of the hill by the airport. The in-coming aircraft pass closely over the top of this hill and drop off steeply to the short landing strip below. It's fun to watch. We also visited the nude beach, and I don't need to say any more than that.
On March 15, we made the 2 hour sail to St. Martin. Our port of entry was Philipsburg. This is the main duty-free shopping area and cruise ship stop over. Wow, you could go crazy here spending money. They sell everything! So many stores, so little time! All four of us each had a specific shopping mission, so we stayed focused and got it done. The next day we sailed around the corner to Simpson Bay where all the yachties (like us) hang out. This is where you can get anything for your boat. We checked out the batteries, but didn't want to deal with it while we were vacationing with Frank and Patti. We wanted to circle the island with them and we would return to Simpson Bay the following week.
Our next stop was Marigot Bay. Mike and Frank hiked to the old fort, while Patti and Linda went shopping. (Happy Birthday, Patti!) After relaxing with sundowners and dinner on the boat, we set up the flat screen and watched a movie. The next day we rented a jeep to drive over to Orient Beach on the other side of the island. We wanted to visit this popular spot and the weather wasn't cooperating. The direction of the ocean swells would have made it extremely uncomfortable to sail around to the east side. We really got lucky on this day because the weather was perfect for lounging on the beach! Sunshine and blue sky. We had lunch at a beach cafe and enjoyed a very relaxing day. Mike said there were more nude bodies here than at the Playboy Mansion, but I'm quite certain that Mike's never been invited to the Playboy Mansion. The next day we sailed to Grand Case, known for its many fine restaurants. Frank and Patti took us out for a progressive dinner. First, drinks at the Calmos Cafe beach bar; then, ribs at the BBQ by the dinghy dock, then dessert and after-dinner drinks at the very upscale L'Escapade Restaurant. A very fun evening celebrating a really fun vacation together.
We had to return to Simpson Bay so that Frank and Patti could catch their flight home. This time we waited for the bridge opening, and entered the Lagoon. We loaded their luggage and our computer in the dinghy and spent the afternoon at Shrimpy's Bar on the dock. He has free WiFi, a laundry service, drinks and food, Frank and Patti could get a taxi to the airport, and it's next door to a grocery store. What more could you want? Our only complaint was the no-see-ums biting our ankles. Next time in we remembered to spray Off on our ankles first.
We now decided to get down to business and resolve our battery problem. We determined that golf cart batteries would not fit in our space. So we decided to upgrade to AGMs. We are way over-budget after buying the new dinghy outboard motor, but we decided to do it anyway. We bought 3, and they weigh something like 170 lbs each. Getting the old batteries off the boat and the new ones in would be a challenge, especially since we are at anchor and not at a dock. The chandlery sent 2 strong fellows to deliver the batteries and all went well .. they got the old ones out and the new ones in. However, we noticed that one of the batteries wasn't charging. Oh god. Our electronics were giving us confusing information. Something is still very wrong. It was 5 p.m. on Friday night. We couldn't get any help and we didn't want to hurt our new batteries. So we shut everything down, all power off, including refrigeration. Hope all our meat stays frozen until we can get help. We had to use the foot pump just to get water. We got ready for bed using flashlights and the battery lantern. Even our toilet uses an electric pump. Sigh. In the morning we got a service man out at 10 a.m. He noticed that our lower DC Main Power breaker switch was off. What? This is a switch that has never been touched (there are still a few things like that on the boat). It is located under the nav desk and Mike's knee might have bumped it. The service guy switched it on, and voila! All systems perfect. We were so ecstatic that it wasn't a major system failure! And the meat in the freezer was still frozen.
Life is good.
(click here for this month's photo album)