S/V Koinonia Weekly Sailing Log - PR, USVI, Sint Maarten/St Martin (Wed Jul 19 - Tue Jul 25, 2023)
Highlights this week: sailing from Palmas Del Mar, PR to St Thomas and St John, USVI; overnight passage to Sint Maarten; checked in on the Dutch side of the island and anchored in Simpson Lagoon; our first taste of the infamous cuisine of the French Caribbean Islands in St Martin; spending a small fortune on bottom paint for the boat; miscellaneous boat projects in paradise.
Wed Jul 19 - quiet time; Amber and kids do school. Cleaned the strainer for the A/C and vacuumed the bilges dry. Began stowing gear and making ready to get back underway tomorrow. Palmas Del Mar has a super convenient set up with fuel ports located at the slip, so you don’t have to move your boat to get fuel. How sweet is that?! Paid $80 for 20 gals of diesel. Amber made lunch and finished the laundry. Ben started hand stitching new straps for the lifting harness for the dinghy out of Dyneema webbing we bought from SailRite. After school, took the kids to the pool, then had dinner at the restaurant. We often do this as a treat the night before a passage to avoid making a mess in the galley and adding to our workload.
Thu Jul 20 - got underway around 8:30am from Palmas Del Mar. Sea state was not bad and winds and sea state improved as the day went on. Saw a few cruise ships but overall, minimal boat traffic. We made several long tacks between Vieques, Culebra, and ultimately St Thomas where we dropped anchor in Charlotte Amalie Harbor at 6pm in 18ft of water. Amber warmed up some chili we had in the freezer and we had loaded chili cheese dogs for dinner. Studied weather for the next leg of our trip as we finally start to turn south. Anchorage was very rolly after the winds laid down.
Fri Jul 21 - weighed anchor and headed to Cruz Bay, St John to get our clearance papers from the US Customs and Border Protection Office. Anchored in the very tiny short term anchorage (3-hour limit) right off the busy channel; Ben took the dinghy ashore; Amber and kids did school. Huge tarpon around the shallows of the harbor; some 6-7fters. Completed clearance papers with our next destination intending to be Guadaloupe, but after Ben got back to the boat, we realized a tropical system is developing in the forecast late next week. Ugh. Called the office and determined we have to specify an exact destination. After speaking with our friend Don, some deliberation, and getting the scoop from friends who just left from there, we decided Sint Maarten would be our best bet, so the officials amended our clearance papers accordingly. Unfortunately, the fuel dock was out of diesel fuel, but we have more than enough to get to our next destination. Moved the boat to Francis Bay, St John. The scenery: the mountains, cliff, blue water, and beach are really beautiful here. Picked up a mooring ball (free during the day), rested and got showers. After consulting Predict Wind and NOAA, determined the most favorable window to leave for St Maarten is tonight, so we sailed off the mooring ball at 5pm and headed out to sea. Amber heated some pasta we prepared in advance for the passage for dinner. Thankfully, the sea state and winds were spot on with the forecast. Amber took first watch.
Sat Jul 22 - Ben comes on watch at 2am. Sea state and winds remain in line with the forecast. A flying fish flew by Lizzy’s head while she was asleep in the cockpit. She yelled, “Dad, a fish just landed in the cockpit!” The air was a little cool and the kids eventually retreated below. Twilight of dawn starts around 4:30am at sea this time of year. Beautiful sunrise! We wanted to do some fishing but the sargassum was so thick, it wasn’t worth the hassle. Sighted land around 7:30am but still six more hours to go. The crew is due for some fun time; everyone is forward to getting settled in Simpson Lagoon on the Dutch side of the island. Arrived outside of the bridge at 1pm local time, 20 hours out from Francis Bay, St John. Anchored outside at Simpson’s South and awaited the bridge opening. Made lunch and made water, then made our way through the bridge and anchored in Simpson Lagoon. Ben went ashore to complete clearing in and paying for a week of anchoring; fees were $40 to anchor per week, plus $21 for transiting the bridge. Early to bed.
Sun Jul 23 - slept in; got everyone dressed and had brunch at “La Main à la Pâte” on the far end of the lagoon in Marigot (French side), then pastries at “Chez Fernand.” Everything was delicious. Stopped at a small mini mart, then headed home. Worship time on the boat. Ben removed the raw water pump that runs cool sea water through the fridge/freezer compressor; it has stopped running and has to be replaced.
Mon Jul 24 - Amber and the kids do school. Ben let out more anchor chain to increase our scope, since it’s supposed to blow pretty hard the next 24 hours or so. Cleaned out the forward and aft head; gathered all trash to go ashore later; made leftovers for lunch. Ran the generator to top up batteries then ran a manual equalization cycle. Went to Island Water World and Budget Marine to get some parts and also to buy bottom paint for the next time we haul the boat (approx. $3000 US). Took the girls shopping in Marigot, stocked up at nice wine shop, “Le Gout Du Vin,” then got ice cream at “Chez Fernand,” and a yummy dinner at a small café, “Ti Breizh.” Came back to the boat and Ben installed the new water pump for the fridge/freezer compressors; everyone got showers.
Tue Jul 25 - Amber and the kids do school. Very windy today with rain on and off. We love the rain because it helps to wash the salt off the boat, which is so thick on deck after a passage, we could start our own salt farm! Ben and Amber tag teamed some boat chores, including re-compressing the PSS dripless drive shaft seal. We plan to replace it with a standard packing gland the next time we haul out. Ben sewed some repairs and reinforced the batten pocket for one of the hatch wind scoops. Amber made her mom’s famous black bean dip and we watched “Rocky.”