Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Wow, it is the end of October AND Friday already.

Sorry that I haven't written up a bit about Hurricane Omar. We haven't had wifi while being in the lagoon and have just been going to MacDonalds for breakfast every day to get our email.


Tomorrow is Buffy and Willow's first birthday! We have some celebrating to do there!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

St Maarten Dutch Bridge Closures - Nov. 2008


The Simpson Bay Bridge on the Dutch side of St. Maarten will be undergoing repairs during the period of November 3-21, 2008. Bridge openings for boats will be limited.

According to the October 28th Daily Herald, there will be repairs to the botom-side welds of the lift deck and will improve the lift deck driving mechanisms. After sandblasting and cleaning the bottom of the deck, the company will repair any further deficiencies of the deck.

A new motor and speed controller will be installed to ensure that the bridge can be operated at a higher wind speed limit than now is the case. A data monitoring and logging system will be put in place to keep track of the bridge's performance.

The works will further include extensive maintenance, such as the blasting and cleaning of all steel structures and the painting of the bridge with three or four layers of coatings selected specifically to provide protection agaist the corrosive marine environment.

When repair work is being done underneath the bridge deck, no maritime traffic will be allowed to pass under the bridge deck, as passage will be blocked by a pontoon. All maritime traffic will have to make use of the passage under the bridge at the Coast Guard/police station side of the channel.
  • Open at normal off-season opening times of 9:30am, 11:30am and 5:30pm through Wednesday, November 5th.
  • Closed: November 6-8
  • Open, Sunday November 9
  • Closed November 10-15
  • Open, Sunday, November 16
  • Closed November 17-19
(Then what happens as the article next mentions Nov. 23rd???)
  • After November 23, the bridge will coninue to open daily at the regular hours again...

You can contact SLAC (Simpson Bay Lagoon Aurthority Corporation) Collection Office at the police station in Simpson Bay next to the bridge at (country code 599) 545-3183 or call the bridge operator on VHF ch.12

All the best!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hurricane OMAR

Just a quick post to say we are OK. Today is Saturday and we came into MacDonalds for breakfast so we could use their WiFi.

More later....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cool Dremel Tool for PUMPKIN CARVING

We bought a Cordless Dremel Tool last month and Bob just LOVES IT! How did we ever get by without one?

I just went over and looked at Amazon to look at HALLOWEEN STUFF when this caught my eye...

This was made with the Dremel 764-04 Pumpkin Carving Kit includes 6-Volt Minimite Cordless Rotary Tool and 10 Templates. How COOL!

Check it out (CLICK HERE) because it includes TEN templates along with a cordless rotary tool which will make anyone a Jack-o'-lantern artist this Halloween.

Pumpkin not included :)


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tropical Storm NANA - Nice name Nice Storm?

NANA is a nice name. It's name makes me think of a nice, gentle, kind grandmother. Hopefully she won't drop by for a visit :)

We went to the store just a bit ago and bought some cat food and ice cream. After enjoying some Chocolate Fudge Swirl, we turned on our computers at 5:15pm and saw Tropical STORM Nana. What? There was never a Tropical Depression!

At least the forecasted track shows it being to the north of us by 2pm Wednesday when it is still way over at 46-ish West. Think good thoughts and maybe it will just fizzle out...

But then there is that other one (Invest 98) that might bring lots of rain to Hispanola and Puerto Rico.

Hey, it's just about the middle of October! Enough already!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cat Blog Friday: Buffy & Willow

I haven't posted a picture of Buffy & Willow in a while so here are a couple. It's hard to believe that they will be a year old next month.

They sure have grown. Buffy loves to lay on top of the cat carrier but she kind of hangs off of it now.
December 22,2007 and September 2008

I like to put them both in the carrier while we are pulling up the anchor and getting underway as we do not want them outside. The last time we did this in June, it was quite a tight fit for the two sisters in their box. They are bigger now... It is only for 5-10 minutes so I hope they will be able to cope when we leave St. Martin in a couple of weeks.

They love their cat carrier and they are always a bit nervous if we move it to take something out of the locker underneath. We call it the "cat condo"

Blondie's (My View from 30,000 feet) kitten Emmy is about the same age as ours. Little Emmy has grown into a very pretty kitty... Delaney is too!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Boat project: Install opening hatch / port in forepeak

Today we decided to install our new (previously-owned) hatch in the forepeak. We were given two opening ports from our friends aboard the charter yacht Honiara as they were replacing them. Thanks, Pierre & Adele!

Not too nervous about cutting such a big hole in the deck, but always worried about what you might find as this is a vintage 1969 CAL-34.

Happy days... The removed deck section is in excellent shape!

We have installed the port so the frame will be flat and not take the camber of the deck. This is the reason that these hatches often leak. If you pull down the side part of the frame to be flush with the deck (seems sensible, right?) the other part with the glass in it is rigid and will not conform to this arc and thus you have a gap along the side portions.

Of course, just as we were installing the port and putting our first epoxy fillet around it, the rain came out of nowhere. Maybe the boat in the Time Out boatyard decided that it was a lovely day and that it would be safe put on another coat of paint and THEY caused it to rain, again :)

What a difference this second hatch made last night. I didn't have to have my fan on! Plus, Buffy can easily jump in and out of it. The other hatch which is higher as it is on the coachroof portion of the forepeak is just too much effort for her (but Willow has no problem).

Friday... just checked and it looks good. We hope to finish it up this morning.

Oh yes, if you are interested in chartering Honiara (see above) let us know! Contact us HERE.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

XANTREX disappointments

I've put this off for a bit, but now I'm going to do my Xantrex rant as we are currently charging our batteries and once again I'm a bit disappointed in their products.

Mid-June of this year we bought a new Xantrex XPower 700 Plus Inverter from the St. Maarten Budget Marine. We didn't install it until the end of July. I'd like to mention that nowhere on its external packaging was it mentioned that this unit was only rated for 560W continuous power. [On the outside of the package it advertised 1000W of surge, so one assumes (why do I assume the best?) that its real rating was 700W. In the manual inside of the store-inaccessible plastic bubble packaging, it says that the 700W is for a maximum of 5 minutes usage.] This unit worked fine for us for about 10 days. Then, one morning we turned it on and after about a second, it gave a squeal and the red "fault" light came on. We disconnected our computers and plugged in a fan to test it... same thing. Next we tried a lamp... no luck. At no time have we ever had anywhere near 500W connected to this unit, so we didn't fry it. There's nothing wrong with our installation as our new inverter (mentioned below) works just peachy-keen.

We disconnected the inverter and took it back to Budget Marine. There, they hooked it up to a 12-volt power source and plugged a radio into the inverter. It worked. The radio played music and then I noticed the volume decreasing and some static. So I asked him to turn it on again. Same thing. The inverter was cutting out after about a second and thus the fade and static on the transistor radio as its power drained. He thought it was a problem with the unit's fan.

He kept it and Budget wrote to Xantrex. He said they should have an answer the next day. We didn't expect an answer the next day so didn't want to make a trip all the way from Marigot for nothing. The following week, he was off island and nobody knew what was up. Next time when we went in, we were told that they put the inverter onto a 12V battery and ran something with a decent load and the unit worked fine and we could take it home.

I'm sorry, but it does not sound "fine" to me. We had a problem, the store had a problem, and then it worked. This sounds like an intermittent problem to me and they obviously don't want to deal with it.

During this same time but before we had the inverter problem, we bought a Xantrex XPower Charger 40 at the St. Maarten Budget Marine. When it is charging at 40amps, it cuts out and the error message pertains to overheating. It cuts in and out, in and out, thus extending our charging time because it is not charging for about one-third of the time. When the amperage drops to about 30-some amps it works fine and does not overheat anymore. It has good air circulation, the air intake is clean and I also open up the compartment where you store the wire in hopes that will help cool things down.

Anyway, I know better than to even mention this to the store because I'm pretty sure there's nothing they can do about it :)

Oh, while we were waiting for a solution to our inverter problem, we bought a Sinergex PureWatts Elite 500 from Island Water World in St. Maarten. We've been using it for 9 weeks without a problem. It was also one of the items for their Monthly Special. Such a deal!

So, what to do with inverter #1, the Xantrex??? Budget Marine says it works. When I asked the employee if he would buy it from us he said no (of course... it's dodgy, duh!). We can't really keep it as a backup because it is not dependable as it OBVIOUSLY has an intermittent fault. We can't sell it with a good conscious because we know it has a problem. Toss it in the locker or in the dumpster?

We'll probably take it to the Time Out Sandy Ground St. Martin flea market but "let the buyer beware" and tell the customer its history.

Monday, October 06, 2008

DUH.... A little common sense, please!

What is this? Why did this happen? Maltese Falcon is easy to spot and I'm sure that MF has all sorts of detection devices aboard to alert them to the whereabouts of this 40-some foot sailboat.

Look at the photos on LYON's IMAGING MARITIME PHOTOGRAPHY's web site... CLICK HERE

Notice all the people on deck of MF? With all of their high-techniness couldn't they get out of the way? If nothing else, shout to the little boat using their Kareoke machine?

And how could the little fellah not see MF? Even from a great distance those sails look like grain silos. One thing we quickly learned while cruising the French canals was "Steel always has right of way".

Looks to me, that they both should have used a little common sense. Not the old "I have right of way", "no, I do"... sort of thing which just doesn't make it with me...

I wasn't there, and I do not know the facts but Hey, come on!

Hope everybody is OK and no damage done.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Simpson Bay Bridge Night Openings St. Maarten

We heard on the news this morning that beginning in December 2008 that there will be night-time bridge openings for the bridge on the Dutch side of St Maarten for entry into the Simpson Bay Lagoon. There was no mention of special fees or anything.

Unfortunately, the newsreader didn't read the whole article and it is not a featured story on the Daily Herald's website ... although they have posted the article about an increase in the number of reported, laboratory-verified cases of Dengue Fever :)

Speaking of bridge & harbor fees, we have noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of yachts staying on the Dutch side of the Lagoon since the fees have gone up. Fees for our size of boat (34 feet) went from US$10/week to US$20/week. I'm sure that St. Maarten might feel the effects of these fees for the next season.

We'll let you know more when we hear more :)

As I'm speaking about jump in prices.... Yesterday we went to Budget Marine in Simpson Bay St Maarten to buy a couple of folding padeyes, which of course they had zero in stock (should be coming at the end of the month, right!). Bob selected two U-bolts instead as we want to finish this project. He gave me the 2 U-bolts plus a 2-pack of West Marine yellow plastic squeegees and I went to the cashier. I was surprised that the total came to over $15 so I checked the receipt before leaving the store. We had been charged US$7.20 for each U-bolt rather than the priced marked on the rack which was US$3.20. That's a difference of US$4.00 x 2!!!

I showed this to one of the guys behind the counter and he had the cashier give us a refund. He told us that if we wanted to buy more that now was the time as they are changing the rack label.

Once again.... ALWAYS check your receipt at Budget Marine as they no longer put the price on the individual item, just a bar code. The price displayed on the rack where you find your item may be different than that in the computer. ALSO, quite often the item does not correspond to the closest tag, so double and triple check so you do not have an unpleasant surprise.

Thanks for letting me vent!