I may give up on this tonight as my connection is very flaky.
RAVEYARDS FOR MANY AND THE LAST CHANCE SALOON FOR A FEW
After the well kept charter boats of the BVI the well polished megayachts of the Palapa marina in the St Marten lagoon and the workmanlike but well used liveaboards at anchor in the lagoon it is a little sad to see another genus of boat afloat [ just ] ashore or aground, the ones on or needing life support in a critical care ward and those that are already dead and just need a decent burial.
From a distance this big wooden ketch looks in pretty good nick
but close up you see the holes in her sides where rotten wood has disappeared and the interior is on view.
These boats have foliage growing to through the rigging and reaching the top of the masts,
This dink looks like it might belong to one of the still afloat, but just, ones.
The boatyards on the French side seem to hold the most desperate cases, often with a lone guy beavering away on it at the weekends and evenings while working all day for a pittance.
Round the edges of the lagoon are a few rusting freightors that have been beached perhaps in a last ditch attempt to keep them from sinking in the lagoon after the pumps could no longer cope with the leaks from the rusting plates of the hull.
There are exceptions with this old fishing boat in commision and looking like it might be good for a few more ocean miles.
But this one looks like it has been the recent recipient of a shed load of TLC yet seems abandoned in the lagoon with peeling paint and dried out decks.
I was a little depressed by all this disrepair dilapidation and decrepitude including the sad sight of this steel boat wrecked on the reef but my spirits were lifted to the skies when the sublime sight of a J class yacht under sail thundered past the Eastern shore of St Maarten when we were at anchor at Tintamarre.
It was the Endeavour replica Hanuman and they were sailing her for once. Apparently the sails especially the main have a limited life due to the stresses involved and the crew on the Endevour were talking about $1000 dollars to hoist the main.
I know I keep banging on about Hanuman but you can keep the rest of the megayachts, I would not swap Elephants Child for any of them but offered Hanuman and I would be in a quandry. She is magnificent!
This tiny island off the East coast of St Martin is a marine park and was a good place for Iris to have a last swim before heading to Panama and her next crewing opportunity. As the day sail boats had arrived including Tiko Tiko the boat from the nudist beach and were raising a rumpus in the water and on shore with more or less clothes on we walked over the island to the windward side and waded along the lagoon looking for a good spot.
Iris surprised a couple of young lemon sharks in only a foot of water and became a little less enthusiastic about snorkeling but we were soon in the water although keeping a wary eye out for sharks.
I spotted this relic of another reef disaster, a rudder post and quadrant from a medium size boat. The owner had commissioned a guard in the shape of a tiny fish who made repeated charges at the camera and my mask in an effort to drive off the intruder
I only had a fleeting glimpse of a shark but caught this shy fellow hiding under a coral arch. He is a blowfish but I resisted the temptation to provoke him or her into blowing herself up.
We briefly considered another look at the passage south to Antigua but the wind had clearly clocked even more Easterly so we romped back to Marigot bay with a quartering wind to catch the 5.30 bridge opening into the lagoon. Iris hand steered all the way and the conditions allowed us to 'butterfly' or go 'wing on wing' some of the way. Again I was slightly surprised and very pleased at the speed of Elephants Child as the GPS showed several periods of 8 knots. We would be even faster with a totally clean bottom. That lagoon is a very fertile place indeed!
So we are back in the lagoon again when I had hoped to be in Antigua. Still I am a cruiser and do not have to beat myself my crew and my boat up making unpleasant passages.
Iris insisted in taking me out for dinner before departing for Panama. She dug out her little black dress from the backpack and I did my best with a clean Tshirt. We had a splendid meal on the French side with me able to reacquaint myself with the delights of “Soupe de Poisson” and “Navarin du Porc”.
On the morning of her departure one of the many people she had met in St Martin heard her on the morning cruisers net asking for directions to the airport and on learning that she was going insisted on coming over to see her off! Mark from South Africa had spent 3 years rebuilding a steel 40 footer before sailing her from South Africa to the Caribbean where he was at work in St Maarten building the cruising kitty up again.
As I write this in the evening I thought back on the weeks Iris had been aboard and “ Tis a fine time we had.”