Friday, August 31, 2007

More weather coming...

Another weather system is due to pass through the lower island chain later today... Could this become Tropical Depression #6?

We are still here in St. Maarten so this looks like it will pass well to the south of us.

These images are from

'tis the season...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

MacBook Hard Drive Failure

As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say, "It's always something"...

Yesterday when Bob turned on his 8-month old MacBook and was greeted with the flashing question mark. The computer was asking where's the system folder? We tried a few things such as starting up in safe mode but same old question mark. We found the install disk and when that booted up the computer we looked at disk utility and it did not display the hard drive... Oooh, that doesn't look good.

I did a search on "macbook does not recognize hard drive" and found some interesting and informative links. Seems like there has been lots of hard drive issues with MacBooks but I'd probably get lots of results if I replace the word MacBook by Sony...

We were very pleased to find that removing the hard drive on the MacBook is very easy. Remove the battery, remove the metal RAM retainer, pull out drive. With our iBooks you had to almost remove everything to get to the drive.

We were kind of discouraged as it had been a while since his last back up but so it goes... But then, I read this posting on the THINGYMAJIG blog. This is what the ever-so-helpful Anonymous had to say:

A tip for the broken-hard-drived...
by Anonymous (not verified)
Hi all, after being an onsite engineer (PC and Mac) for what seemed forever, a PC IT Manager for far too long and happily working as an AppleCentre Manager for a couple of years, I'd love to pass on this little gem that *sometimes* can give a dying drive one last blast from the paddles of life. This has worked on countless occasions for me personally, on PCs, Macs and HD based iPods:
Remove the drive from it's enclosure (excluding iPods, obviously!), hold it in one hand and give it a SINGLE brisk flat-handed slap on the top of the drive. Don't panic, when hard drives are powered down they can withstand multiple G's of shock force and not sustain damage. What prevents this (and is also the problem culprit) is the hard disk seek heads being parked away from the platters inside in their safe place. What is extremely common is for the heads to stick in the parking bay, especially when the drive has been exposed to quick temperature change. If the drive is unable to unpark the heads and continue spin-up, it will shut itself down until the next time it is powered off and on, hence the drive appears unavailable to the OS.
The reality is, it's not going now, so what have you got to lose. Just be sensible and resist the temptation to imagine Apple Customer Relations officers faces on the drive and don't belt the crap out of it. If the technique is going to work for you, it'll work with one slap. If no go after that, she be toasted.

So, Bob removed his hard drive, gave it a "Proby slap" upside the head (NCIS reference), put it back in, and his MacBook started up normally. Cool! We then went up to the computer store and bought a 120GB replacement drive which we will be installing soon.

Here's another thing that MacBook & MacBook Pro users should be aware of:

Read this link about how you may damage your hard drive if you move your computer too soon after closing the lid...

This is what Apple’s MBP manual states:

Warning: Wait a few seconds until the white sleep indicator light on the display latch starts pulsating (indicating that the computer is in sleep and the hard disk has stopped spinning) before you move your MacBook Pro. Moving your computer while the hard disk is spinning can damage the hard disk, causing loss of data or the inability to start up from the hard disk.

So, you wonder - what difference does it make, Apple notebooks have the Sudden Motion Sensor and will prevent any data loss or disk damage ?

Wrong again! The Sudden Motion Sensor has no effect in this situation, so you’ll be better off to leave your computer to finish the job it has to do.
I feel fortunate that I haven't experienced this problem. I'll now be more careful.

Hope this helps other Mac users...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fish Feeding Frenzy Morning - St. Maarten SXM

I don't feel well today so I was sleeping in. I was awakened by the cries of seagulls, plummeting pelicans and splashing fish. I opened my eyes and, as I'm in the forepeak, I see a pelican out the starboard port then above me through the deck hatch and then on the port side port and back again... sort of like he's playing hopscotch with the boat.

I finally got the camera and went outside but most of the birds were finished with their morning snack and hanging out on the dry dock again...

The fish were still at it though, but not as intense. Bob had the little spinning rod out to see if someone would bump into the lure and come to dinner.

There must have been about 10 of the big guys tearing a path of destruction from under our boat through the huge school of little fish. Don't know what they are but it was spectacular.

It rained pretty hard for a bit last night. It is very humid right now which is really the pits when you don't feel well. Here's Saba.

They're back! Must be lunch time...

Sunday, August 26, 2007


We have had a noisy, splashing day. There's been a lot of fish feeding frenzy action which gets the seagulls and pelicans into the act.

Here are some pelican pictures I took today:

We really get a kick out of these guys!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Body surfing, cat style

Equal time for cats! (see Dog posting below)

This is Jasmine's method of body surfing... using Rich's body!

Jasmine lives aboard the charter yacht Qwest with Rich and Kim. They are dive professionals, don't try this at home :)

Contact us if you'd be interested in chartering Qwest. Here's a link to their brochure.

Surfer Dogs

This morning, Bob called my attention to this great photo of a pair of surfer dogs on The Horse's Mouth blog... CLICK HERE ( for their blog...

Just had to share this.... There's also a good picture of some cute pink pigs in the water...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More ramblings from Simpson Bay, St. Maarten SXM

I noticed yesterday when we were having our sundowners on the foredeck, that the topography of the beach has changed... either the sand has been pushed back thus making a 2-foot high cliff, or more likely the sand has been sucked away from the beach due to the swell after Hurricane Dean. Part of the beach closest to the bridge seems to have eroded right up to the wall behind a couple of the beach houses. It will be interesting to watch and see if/when nature restores this.

Today we will be going to FedEx to pickup a much needed piece of mail. $45 to have one envelope sent from Florida to St. Maarten. So It Goes... But, the envelope was picked up at about 4:30pm Monday in Florida and arrived in St. Maarten on Tuesday before noon! Last month we had our bank send us a cashier's check so we could renew our passports and they would only send it via DHL (Drop Hard & Lose)... well, DHL did lose it although they wouldn't admit to it which wasted about a week on our end. We then had the bank send it to our mail service in Florida who then sent it to us directly to FedEx in SXM and hey presto, no problem... got it within 2 days.

Speaking of mail services, in St. Maarten we use The Mailbox. It is located behind the Palapa Marina on Airport Road, conveniently located near the video rental store and a cash machine across the street. I started ranting about another mail service who caters to boaters but decided to spare you... (but I am offended that she comes on the VHF cruiser's radio net to advertise her services and no mention is given to alternatives. Yes, I could get on and plug The Mailbox but I don't think advertising on a VHF net is right. If a cruiser asks for info on the net, then a list of companies could be given). Anyway, I recommend The Mailbox over the other place... 'nuf said.

We ordered a pole spear yesterday and we are now waiting for that. I doubt if we'll get it in Saturday's mail but should have it by Wednesday. Then we should be good to go!

Going to the movies tonight!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Simpson Bay, St Maarten SXM

Today, Monday August 20, 2007, was another beautiful day in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten. The swell has gone down some more and there is little surf on the beach. Actually, it is better than what I think of "normal" conditions out here in the Bay. We had our first after Hurricane Dean swim today. The water felt so great!

We went into Palapa to drop off trash and to return our rental DVDs. When we left the dinghy dock at 4:25pm we noticed that a boat was still making little circles like he wanted to go through the bridge to leave the lagoon. We went up to his boat and told him that he had another hour before the bridge opens at 5:30 (summer hours). He said that he started at 3:30pm because he didn't want to miss the bridge!

I never understand why people don't just drop their anchor and put out a teensy bit of chain (especially since there was no wind) while they wait. Or, since there's no wind and no other boats waiting (as it is 2 hours before opening time) why not just stop the boat and let it drift... there's plenty of room. Going about in tiny circles wastes fuel and does not earn one any "style points"...

Obviously, he didn't read my blog entry for the SXM bridge that I posted way back when...

Anyway, that's just my thoughts...

Afterwards, we went to Peg Leg's Pub for 1/2 price appetizers. Peg Legs is located just across from Budget Marine in the Lagoon. They have dinghy parking for their guests. Peg Leg's happy hour is from 4-6pm. Appetizers are 1/2 price and a glass of Heineken is $1. We had their chicken wings (small but tasty & we had 15 of them) a huge plate of nachos with an ice cream scoop size of guacamole and sour cream, plus tomatoes cubes, olives, jalepenos, beef (under the nachos), and 5 beers which came to just under $15.00 We are full. This is a great place to stop for a bite after watching a matinee movie on the weekend, or before seeing a first show at the cinema. Remember Ladies' Night is Wednesday and tickets are $2.00 off for women ($4 rather than $6).

Our wifi is too slow right now to upload photos... hopefully I can upload this, then check my email.

Have a good evening!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hurricane Dean - D+2 St. Martin SXM St. Maarten

Happy to say that the swell has diminished somewhat. We both slept well last night but being tired from not sleeping much the night before might have played a small part :)

This morning, Sunday Aug.19,2007, the bridge on the Dutch side of St. Maarten opened for the first time since Thursday afternoon at 5:30pm.

Fourteen boats left the lagoon with the 9:30am bridge... Three or four small island cargo ships, a megayacht, a couple of catamarans, dive liveaboard cattle boat, ...

And eight boats left with the 11:30am bridge. Among the group were a couple of tugs, and a few daysailers, such as Golden Eagle and Random Wind.

It is a beautiful day here.

All the best!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hurricane Dean Day+1 Simpson Bay St. Martin / Maarten SXM

We expected this but it doesn't mean we like it... it is very rolly today with the swell coming in from Dean. Could be worse though, right? Hold on tight Jamaica!

These still photos don't do justice to the state of the swells we are having, but it's nice to have pictures.

It is a beautiful morning. Still gusty at times but the sun is out, the sky is blue and partly cloudy. The surf on the beach is very pretty. The swell is very sandy. We're not going to go for a swim this morning. Not much in the way of rain for this storm so we didn't have the open/close hatch drill.

I'm sure glad that we have wifi on the boat. The guy on the local SXM cruisers net did, in MY opinion, a hmmmmm what word should I use.... crummy job of relaying the weather forecasts for Dean. He would not read the updates, just give us his interpretations which quite often were WRONG! Wednesday morning he said the hurricane track was going through Bequia and Grenada. We couldn't figure how he came up with that unless he gets his news from the guy on the barstool next to him. This is important information which people depend on so be accurate. Read the forecast, give the coordinates, and then, if you must, give your opinion/interpretation. This morning at 7:30am he said that the center of Dean was 600 miles away from us which I thought was really moving fast especially since he would be using a 3-hour old position. Well, I just calculated the center of the storm using the 8am position and Dean is 295 miles from SXM. A listener asked for the coordinates and he didn't have them... go figure! Enough ranting but this really gets up my nose.

So, we are happy to have weathered the storm. We can handle being a bit uncomfortable. Tropical Storm force winds are extending outwards to 205 miles according to Advisory 21A at 8am.

The bridges did not open at 9:30 or 11:30am this morning (Saturday).

Stay safe!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hurricane Dean - Simpson Bay, St. Martin SXM St. Maarten

Well, it Friday... DEAN Day. We've been studying the weather and we decided to stay outside of the lagoon in Simpson Bay. Yesterday, after the 5:30pm bridge opening we were the only boat in the bay.

Quite a few boats went into the Lagoon on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. We remember being in the Lagoon last year for Chris and watching a couple of 80-foot daysail catamarans throw their anchor out and leave. Holding in the lagoon is not good at the best of times due to grass. I can't imagine going in there the day before and just tossing the anchor out without having the time for it to settle in. We've seen many boats drag... Heck, we've done it too!

So, we are quite happy here in the bay. Last night a large catamaran anchored way out and they left this morning. A Morgan came in after 8am and puttered around waiting for the 9:30 bridge and a powercat came as well. The bridge did not open as the bridge will not open with winds in excess of 19.7MPH. So these two boats are now anchored well away from us.

A charteryacht just came in and anchored.

We are now getting some occasional gusts of about 25MPH also a bit of rain now and then. No worries here. We have lots of chain out, and everything is well secured, We topped up our fuel, water and food. Yesterday we rented some DVDs.

Here's a photo from a squall we had a bit ago

And here is a photo taken about 15 minutes later at about 11:15am

It's nice not having to worry about "the other guy"... I spoke too soon... The charter yacht either dragged or up-anchored thinking they could go through the 11:30am bridge which didn't happen. They have now anchored starboard of us... oh well, we have room but there goes the neighborhood :)

Just got the 11am (Aug.17,2007) public advisory with Dean's position:
At 1100 am AST...1500z...the eye of Hurricane Dean was located near latitude 14.6 north...longitude 62.6 west or about 105 miles... 170 km...west of Martinique and about 350 miles...565 km...southeast of San Juan Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 105 mph...165 km/hr...with higher gusts. Dean is a category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours and Dean is forecast to become a major hurricane.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 25 miles...35 km...from the center...and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles...295 km.

St. Martin is approximately 18N and 63W so the storm center is almost directly south of us now.

It is a few minutes after 12 noon and a bit more squally but OK.

I hope everyone is well down south in Dominica, Martinique & St. Lucia.

All the best!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weather: What's that low going to do?

This is what boaters are talking about here in St.Martin today... Is this low going to develop into a Tropical Storm or more?

We know a family who hasn't been sailing yet but they have been working on their boat for over a year here in SXM. They've heard about this system and they plan to head south on Tuesday. I sure hope this thing just fizzles out. I'm worried that they are running away before they have done any sea trials or have any experience with their boat. Plus, they are not familiar with down-island ports yet and all that it entails...

Also, is down island the place you want to head to? Look at these computer models:

We are going to stay put for the moment and keep an eye on things before making hasty decisions.

Hoping for a quiet and uneventful summer, weatherwise...