30kn winds, lets go sailing

Position 18°02’61N 063°05’65W

At anchor, The Lagoon, St Maartin.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

It has been an interesting week here in the Dutch half of the Island, the other half of the Island belongs to France. As usual once near any good chandlery area I always end replacing or updating items onboard.

Life onboard:
30kn of wind, lets go sailing. That was the story just after sending out last weeks news update. It had be blowing a hooley for a while and was forecast to dose for the next few days, then in the weather update it looked like it was going to get worse after the weekend, so I decided to just go for it.

What a sail, pitch black, no horizon. The only way you could tell a wave was coming your way was when you heard it, by the it was only metres away. The mast head light then light the whit top of the wave, you new under that was a wale of black. You can always tell when its going to be a great sail, when you look up rather than down onto a wave.

I have started the preparations for the next stage of my trip, a voyage across the Pacific Ocean. The original plan was to haul Pinta in late January at Trinidad however I met a really nice French man who has been sailing the Caribbean for many years, he advised me about this little know yard, the labour forced is skilled yet cheap, all you do is bring your own antifouling. The yard has been booked for many weeks and that is the main reason I am in St Maartin, it is one of the cheapest areas in the Caribbean, I have saved around a few $100 here, the antifouling alone was reduced from $199 to $155 per gallon, for three gallons that’s not a bad saving.

I also purchased a replacement torch, a small 37cm long by 14 cm and rated at 10,000,000 candle power. A little over the top really but the onboard one has finally failed after 15 months of service. You may recall why on route to the Cabo Verde’s being nearly run down by a vessel, I had too flash the vessel five times (which means ‘I do not understand your intentions’) directly into the bridge (and lighting the whole area up), I either woke them up or grabbing there attention whilst they were making a cup of coffee. It could have been a totally different outcome had I not been able to do so. A well worth while investment. This was an upgrade from the original 1,000.000 to 10,000.000, It should do the job I think.

This is also a customs free area which means no tax. A case of beer, 24 cans Heineken for around £8. I had not originally planned to come back this way before going to Panama but now I think I will come back and stock up, yes on food as well lol.

The Boat:
As mentioned last week the wind generator stopped working, this was due to a strong gust of wind which rotated the bracket a few degrees, enough to slice the wiring. This one was down to me, pure lack of maintenance on my part. I have not checked the bracket for many months, to honest since having the Bimini fitted I forgot about it as was now out of site. I had not checked the tightness of the bolts, they were a little loose. I think it was to do with the heat and metal expanding at different rates more then anything else.

Up, down, up down, felt like a bloody jack in the box as the generator was taken down then up. Once the initial repairs to the wiring were carried it still failed to operate correctly. If you loose the grounding the generator goes into stall mode. The onboard computer turns on this mode if the wind exceeds a specified limit, this is done to prevent self damage to the unit. On the third day I decided to replace all the wiring, I pulled out the old and replaced it with 8 awg. The unit works but erratically, I left it under test for a few days before deciding what to do next.

It would appear the wind generator was more damaged than originally thought, I stripped the unit down to find that the brushes used to transfer the, well without getting to technical, the ‘power’ from the rotating unit to the cables are very pitted. The positive one more so. The brush was half the size of either the negative or grounding brushes. I also noticed that a diode had blown on the circuit board. If in the UK I would able to repair it myself but out here it would work out cheaper to buy a replacement board than to have it repaired as getting a single diode is almost impossible.

I have also found it impossible for the first time to refill the butane bottles, on the Dutch side they only use propane while on the French side while I thought they would use butane however after looking I gave up and reluctantly purchased a new regulator for the bottles I have onboard. You may recall I withdraw them (Camping Gaz) from service in St Vincent after the regulator failed with what could have been fatal consequences. They have changed the regulator so I hope the problem I had was a design fault and it has been corrected with the new design.

Fair winds and calm seas.