WINDBOUND IN SXM: More Sailing With the Family (Or Not)

Lunacy aerial

The better part of valor, and all that. When we arrived here on St. Martin Saturday evening it was blowing a bit, and all day Sunday–as we provisioned Lunacy, adjusted to the pleasant weather, and diddled around at the pool while watching Heineken Regatta boats stream up and down the coast outside the entrance to Oyster Pond–it was blowing a bit harder. And by Monday morning, as post-Heineken bareboats started streaming like locusts into the docks here at Capt. Oliver’s Marina in a just-as-stiff breeze, it occurred to me that an idle family cruise might not be so idle in conditions such as these. Checking the weather (finally), I discovered the forecast was for the wind to increase a bit more still and hold there for the rest of the week. Fortunately, the family wasn’t too disappointed when I told them I thought our sailing vacation would be much more vacation-like if we morphed it into a dock-based event.

Not that we absolutely could not have gone sailing. But unless your family is truly as serious about the sport as you are, I find it is best to shield them from its more vigorous aspects if you like having them keep you company on your boat.

And certainly there are worse fates in life than this. We’ve rented some wheels (surprisingly affordable) and are sallying forth on various excursions. Tomorrow we’ll ferry over for a day on St. Bart’s. And there’s more than a bit to do right here around Oyster Pond.

Far be it for me to complain.

PW wind chart

The immediate problem is a week’s worth of WX wind maps for the Leeward Islands that look just like this. I guess you’d call them “fortified tradewinds.” And in my experience that green 20- to 25-knot color on PassageWeather charts, at least in these parts at this time of year, often translates into something a bit stronger in real life

Oyster Pond entrance

Something else to think about. The entrance to Oyster Pond is open to the east, with crunchy reefs close to on either side, hence can be a bit dicey in strong conditions. This is a small local boat coming in yesterday with a bunch of young gung-ho guys onboard (note the full mainsail). I’m wondering what it will be like by Friday, when we would have been returning, come hell or high water. I’m also remembering our first winter here, when a Sunsail bareboat crashed coming in and was lost (fortunately with only mild human injuries) after that year’s Heineken regatta

Post-race docks

The marina was empty when we arrived, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t. Just watching the influx of post-race bareboats has been fairly entertaining. Funny thing, though. Every time I’ve asked someone how they did in the regatta, they’ve boasted to me that they finished first in class. How can that be?

Post-race bar

Some post-race action at the Dinghy Dock bar

Pablo w/sextant

The current cover of one of the many ridiculous lifestyle-and-luxury-goods magazines they give away like popcorn here. This guy, I think, is doing his impression of Pablo Picasso handling a sextant for the first time in his life

Oyster Pond Hill

Lucy and I have been hiking up the hill just north of Oyster Pond each evening before sunset. You can just make out Lunacy here: she’s the second mast from the left on the long dock at the back of the marina


These are some of the donkeys we visit on our way up the hill


This is Una modeling some casual teen vacation-wear on Lunacy‘s stern arch, hoping she gets on the cover of one of those magazines

Fuel dock

Spread the word far and wide! The fuel dock at Capt. Oliver’s is open for business again! Or at least it has been this week. I have to check and make sure this isn’t just a regatta-related anomaly

NH garden

Why you shouldn’t feel sorry for us. This is what we left behind in Portsmouth. That’s our back garden, and that fence is about chest high

And here’s another reason not to feel sorry for me personally. I’ll be spending just one day back in NH after we get home and then will board a plane for Ft. Lauderdale, where I’ll join Jimmy Cornell on a two-week passage to Panama on his new Garcia.

Theoretically, that should involve plenty of sailing. Keep eyeballs pasted here for updates.

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2 Responses
  1. Don Joyce

    Winds are quite strong. Decided we would explore Puerto Rico interior instead of continuing to press east to the VI’s and further south. GPS forecasts for the Caribbean really do underestimate the wind strengths


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