Friday, February 21, 2014

Banana Cafe - St Martin - Free Wifi

Finding good, reliable internet wifi is turning out to be quite a challenge and often an adventure while here in St Martin.  We cannot get free wifi on the boat.

Today we tried a new spot - Banana Cafe.  It's a lovely little cafe in the heart of Marigot.
French women are just SO fabulous
The woman who owns and runs it bought and built it back in 1986.  She said there wasn't much around her at the time and now the city has grown all around her.  A very shy, young local boy was our waiter most of the day.  He even helped Tom find the only corner where there was a plug to charge our laptops.  Very nice.  Wifi was fast and hand made juices good.

FKG Rigging - Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten has almost anything you might want or need in the way of yachts.  As a mega yacht haven as well as a Caribbean racing destination, it's here.  Prices are not cheap as the services are good but not outrageous either.  Being a duty free island helps quit a bit.

Our friends s/v Terrapin had FKG re-rig their 30 year old Valiant 47 and were very happy with the results.  We got to watch first hand as they did this.  We decided while we were here to take advantage as well and have FKG check our rigging.  We knew with 1997 rigging the standard answer on a rigging check would be "you need all new rigging."  However, we wanted to know the why, how and every detail in between.  Additionally, this would give us a base line and starting point for a future re-rig.  FYI - standard re-rig is every 8-10 years, 5-7 in some cases depending on location and sailing conditions...(ie Caribbean salt and sun) and less then 5 years if you are racing.
Teabagging shows age issue - DON'T go there otherwise!

Arthur and his helper ( am so sorry I don't remember his name) came out to our boat in the lagoon and immediately got to work inspecting our rig after a few questions.  Tom and I watched closely so we could learn as much as possible.

I nearing had heart failure then Arthur...while aloft....started shaking the mast violently.  *I was still in amazement at the speed and ease at which Arthur acceded up the stick.  It takes me forever to get up there!  Then he was swing from the back of the mast out around the to the front and back again like Russel Crowe in Master and Commander.  WOW!

They checked everything thoroughly and then came the moment of truth......gulp......"I don't find anything wrong with your rig other than age.  It's time you start thinking about a new rig but there isn't anything that screams NOW.  If it were my boat, I would do it at the end of the season."

Okay.  Again, we knew age would be an issue but we hoped that there wouldn't be anything more. He did find two minor but very important items that needed to be fixed immediately.  The pin on the boom has never seemed quite right.  Turns out it's the wrong size - as in undersized.  Additionally he found that cotter pin on the headstay furler was coming out in a weird way.  He took some measurements and came back the next day while we were gone and fixed those.

We were extremely please with FKG.  We are told they are on the high end of rigging when it comes to prices.  However, they are completely professional, fast and very good (from what we have seen).  We will not be re-rigging at this point but sometime in the future.  We may or may not have FKG do it but certainly they are high on the list.

Grand Case Street Fair

Grand Case St Martin Street Fair

Every Tuesday night through April - Called Harmony Tues
We heard on the morning cruisers net that Grand Case Bay (on the north side of the island) has a Tuesday night street market now through April.  We enjoyed Grand Case so much last time we were in St Martin 2008 on a bareboat charter, we decided to check it out while our friend Michelle was here.

It was awesome and we had a really fun time!  The anchorage at Grand Case it pretty as well.

It was more of a street fair then a market.  They close down the main drag in Grand Case to cars.  All sorts of vendors set up booths/tables.  Touristy stuff, local artist, tons of food booths and street music.  Tourist, cruisers, ex-pats and locals turn out to stroll up and down the lane all night.

We planned to wonder a bit and then find a place to eat.  However, we ended up just grazing as we strolled along.  There were so many yummy food booths and cheap - ham and cheese Johnny cakes booth, french fry booth, crepes booth, gyro booth, rum booth, beer booth (which was actually just locals with coolers etc.....YUM!
Pomme Frites booth

Pomme Frites served up in a proper cone shaped container

Pomme Frites with spicy mayo

Pomme Frites - straight Ketchup
There were many interesting artist booths.  Additionally all the local shops stayed open late. Michelle purchases several unique items.  I got an inexpensive kewl little ankle bracelet made by three 20 something white kids with dreads living in a commune....I think?  *White kids with dreads is still odd to me for some reason but to each their own.
Ooo la la  carnival outfits

Check out the green drums - jugs and a bucket painted green
A local band got all the people dancing along.  Down the street a little way another band with four outgoing singers had the people moving in that part of the street.  Later we heard the loud sound of drums.  A mini carnival type procession made their way down the street through the crowd lead by three lovely and scantily dressed ladies in full carnival "outfits."  They looked SO pretty.

We ended the evening at our favorite place Calmos Cafe on the beach.  *Compy Comp and Special K -you will probably remember having lunch here in 2008. They served up custom mixed banana rum sipping rum after lunch with the check (vs the American version the mint with your check) and then we had the task of freeing the dinghy outboard from under the dock. D-oh!

Kansas Peeps

New career?
Our friend Michelle came for a visit last week.  We had a terrific time further exploring Marigot (French side of lagoon), Cole Bay (Dutch side of lagoon), introducing her to some of the cruising characters community here, checking out an art fair, as well as trips to Philpsburg and Grand Case.
A tad better than the 11 degrees she left behind in KC
She was SO wonderful to act as a sherpa and bring a bunch of stuff we ordered from the states.
Local rum booth in Grand Case during street fair
Additionally, she brought us some gifts too.  Thanks Michelle.

Art Fair in Philpsburg

A couple of weeks ago we took a couple of buses over to Philpsburg to a local art fair.

Some of the booths had tourist type stuff.    Others were actual local artists with their homemade items.  Our favorite was a booth with local and Brazilian made items.  Can you see what the purses are made of?  Look closely.  These were SO kewl.  Even Tom thought so.  In another life I would have snapped one of these up promptly but sadly the so very kewl styling doesn't make sense on a boat.

There were also a few food booths.

Crepe booth
There was also a performance by a local drum group with a wide range of ages.

The above little drummer girl was my fav.  She was one heck of a good drummer.

Water, Water Everywhere and TONS to Drink

New membrane ordered prior to our departure from USA
 Woot Woot!!
Sometimes it takes a few taps from a hammer

After a few days of installing replacement parts, troubleshooting, and watching You Tube videos on watermaker maintenance and repairs.....Tom got our watermaker working yesterday!  Yay!
Pre-filter to keep crud out of membrane

Water flow -check

Of course I knew he would.  He wasn't so sure yesterday morning.  "Well.....I will give it another go and see if I can't figure out what is going on but...."  A little while later he casually called me up into the cockpit "Hey, come see this."  I thought a new boat had pulled into the anchorage.  No, water was flowing out of the watermaker and into a small container!  Woo hoo!  *I have the best husband ever!
Installing membrane part

Old O rings and pump seals replaced with pump rebuild kit

Pump rebuild in process

Clear, fresh water from sea water.  He tested it with the water tester thingie ( I forget the official name of this thing).  The water was an acceptable level for drinking.  The watermaker keep producing (of course) so we had to scramble to find a couple pitchers to put the water in.  Further testing...the water kept getting better into the really good range on the tester.
Success - first water and big smile

Final test......drink it.  "Ah....refreshing!"  He grabbed the blue (for water) jerry can and started filling it.  The watermaker ran for two hours and made almost 10 gallons of fresh water.  FREE water!  The power pull was big - 25 amps but we knew it would be big and will plan for that.

We now feel like a totally independent, proper cruising boat with solar, wind, watermaker, sails and iron genny (engine).  Look out world, here we come!!  

Yes - my husband took sea water and turned it into fresh, clean drinking water.  In turn, he will take that and turn it into diet tonic tonight around sundown!

For those interested - basically a watermaker takes sea water and filters it through a very, very fine membrane (filter) that takes out all the particulates out like salt.   Our watermaker is a S&K with various parts installed in various locations in the hole (cockpit locker) thus taking up less space over all and allowing easier access to the various parts to service them.  It is a low output model - 5 gallons per hour (however we have already produced more than that in an hour!)  Previous two owners used it with great success.  The membrane was pickled when we bought the boat - meaning it was sort of put into sleep/storage mode if you will.  We did not fire it up before now because once you un-pickle the membrane and fire it up, you need to keep making water every so many days.  That wouldn't work while we were commuter cruisers.  Additionally the seawater needs to be relatively clean ie you don't really want to run it in a marina or crowded or dirty anchorage.  First, Tom replaced the membrane only.  Water was flowing out of the pump but not like it should and thus not through the membrane. After much troubleshooting and discussions with S&K president Jack, it was determined that the pump seals might be beyond their years.  Sure enough.  However, after the pump rebuild a few days ago, NO water flowed.  Argh!  After more research and head scratching,  Tom and Jack decided that air had been introduced into the hydraulic part of the pump during the rebuild and it would need to be bled out and 5W30 synthetic oil added back in.  Finally after that, Tom force primed the pump with a bit of water to get it going.  FYI - S&K has been terrific in terms of customer support.  They take Tom's calls and emails and promptly get back to him - often times the president Jack himself called Tom back.  S&K is located in Florida somewhere.