“Everything made of fibreglass works, all else not working”. This what the advert should have said. But i knew what i was getting. My last of more than 100 items is down to 20, and seems to be stuck there.
The eutectic plate part of the fridge I thought I had conquered with the help of a very clever guy called Alfred from Nanny Cay. Until then i had been managing to keep things cool with the 12volt electric plate, but it was flogging our batteries.
Unfortunately immediately after we left his marina the compressor clutch started tripping the fuse and i thought i was in for an expensive time. In St Martin two Russian fridge guys who normally only worked on super yachts deigned to come out and look. They decided the batteries were not enough to deliver the surge needed. This was not correct. The clutch still engaged intermittently. On their return trip, while I had my head down in the engine about to wipe up some oil leaks, when there was a big spark, and the fuse tripped. Simple. A wire had eroded from the compressor vibration and was touching ground. US$100 for nothing. But now i have a super cold fridge and ice lasts for days.
ICE! what a treat, its so nice, we go through a bag a day! Then i found mint in the shops and life was perfect, with a fresh Mohito at sunset.
After several false starts I managed to trick the boys into climbing the hill to the Fort Louis. A great view of the bay, marina and the huge lagoon that exists behind the lifting bridge. The Dutch half of the island is on the other side of the lagoon, and all the yacht hardware stores are dotted around the edge.
Getting an audience with the fridge oligarchs had delayed our departure from St Martin by a few days, but the croissants and fresh baguettes made up for it. The day we finally did leave, i discovered that i couldn’t clear out at immigration because there was another national holiday four days after the last one. France must be totally closed in July.
We moved over to the main marina where they had a terminal, and tried to clear out. They were very reluctant, because it was five minutes to lunch time. Lunch time in these francophone countries is Big Deal. everything closes for 3 hours, till 3pm. and they may never come back. So I insisted i had to do it and bribed them with $20 to stay open. Sadly in the rush to get me out the door, my wallet was left behind. Once i had realised this, nothing i could say would make them believe this. They insisted i had left with it. Go away we are Having a Long Lunch.
Because they weren’t going to open till the next day, and i am dementing and believed they could be right, we headed off to St Barts.
A lovely reach, our first proper one, SSE 6.5 knots all the way with reefed sails. Smooth as silk. To me at least – Max and janine beg to differ, but they have delicate sea-legs. I am looking forward to many engine-less reaches south. The next day the marina emailed and said they had my wallet.
St Barts is delightful. I wish i had planned more time here. The bars are lively. The stores are all unaffordable fashion houses. Lapdogs and pearls everywhere. The supermarket is entirely full of gourmet superfood options, almost no normal food at all. Chia, quinoa, pomegranites, kale, ten kinds of muesli, absolutely nothing digestible. If we could have afforded it, I’m sure the restaurants were very good.
The architecture is sort of Scandinavian: with taller wooden square buildings, strong primary colous, and the streets are very very clean, which we all marvelled over. Apparently St Barths was Swedish until it stopped being profitable in the mid 1800s. Hence the forts on each side of the harbour being called Fort Karl, Gustav and Oscar.
We had our first night out at the local pub. Tables outside under a spreading Banyan tree with a mix of french and english, and a few rare US accents. Our first glass of wine for 3 months: a 3 euro pinot gris which was pretty good. Floored me, as i think we have been overly cautious with the rum aliquots. We sat out under the tree until a rainstorm made everyone crowd under the awning.
The kids did their usual with iPads in the corner of the pub, charging their batteries, making the whole towns lights dim.
We left Gustavia harbour at midday, and spent the afternoon at Anse du Gouverneur, a small bay with some coral and some nudists. The boys played for hours, and spent some energy. Dinner was Spaghetti Carbonara renamed as Macaroni Cheese, and we set out for Antigua at 9pm. A pleasant sail with the engine off for a lot of it. We could have headed for Monserrat – a volcano island that got evacuated in the 90s after a big eruption – but the wind had some northeast in it, and i was curious have a look at English harbour in Antigua and also to get some Easting for later ‘downhill’ runs.
We arrived at Jolly Harbour, which might have been jolly in high season, but that day it was pretty dire. Next day straight to English Harbour.