28/03/2017 – St Barth Bucket and St Martin.

On the first day of racing the J Class has two races, described as windward/leeward. Basically they started some way offshore, tacked their way towards the harbour until they reached a turning mark then raised spinnakers to go downwind to the turning mark near the start then back towards the harbour and finally back again. This was repeated in the afternoon. The visibility wasn't brilliant. On Friday, day 2, the Js had another windward leeward race, this time starting further offshore. It was very difficult to spot their turning mark even through binoculars. 32 other boats, loosely placed in 5 different classes, had their first race, around the island anti-clockwise. They were sent off with a minimum of 30 seconds between each start though sometimes the gap was several minutes. The timings were based on their handicaps, the wind and sea conditions and, I think, the Class they were in. In a perfect world each class would have finished together with 5 minutes between each class. It's definitely not a perfect world. The last two days of racing saw the Js starting 30 minutes before the first of the others, but all classes followed a similar course. It might sound confusing but there were 3 or 4 courses used each day, going in the same direction but of differing lengths. These volcanic islands have a lot of rocks and islets offshore and these were often used as marks for the course so a shorter route would be inside a particular group of rocks. It made for some interesting racing with a few spectacularly close finishes. One of the rules of racing for the pursuit racers was that they should not get within 40 metres of another boat and they had each been provided with two rangefinders for the races! .......... Monday morning we cleared out of St Barthélemy and returned to Marigot Bay in St Martin. We hadn't planned to stay a week but we have! Tuesday John collected the rigging part from FKG in Cole Bay in the Dutch half of Simpson Bay lagoon which he has subsequently fitted. The winds have been particularly unfavourable for heading to Montserrat so we have done other jobs. ........... For some time now we have been finding water in the saloon bilge, we have also been getting through our tank water rather faster than normal. The bottom, leaking water tank has been disconnected but the water level has continued to drop quicker than expected so John decided to replace the water pipe between the tank and the pump. Long story short (ish), it wasn't easy, it took much longer than anticipated, there was no obvious fault found in the old pipe. Damn! All reconnected, pump turned back on and all we had at the taps was not much more than a trickle. Not good. The next morning the water flow stopped completely! To add to John's misery, when he removed the wooden grating under the floor where he stores oil etc. he dropped it over the stern, tied to the boat, to soak clean. When he went to pull it back on board his knot had come undone....no grating. Yesterday morning, with water only available from the foot pump at the galley sink (cold only), we set off to Cole Bay for John to visit the big DIY while I walked on the Carrefour. The DIY had no suitable wood so John joined me in Carrefour, litres of Gordon's gin at $8.95 brightened him up! After lunch on the boat he went to the chandlery in Marigot to buy a new water pump and walked to a large DIY where he managed to find suitable timber. The old pump seemed to run OK so he checked a strainer which he had removed for cleaning and discovered a washer was missing, allowing air to be sucked in. A suitably sized O ring did the job, the water flowed again and we now have a spare, brand new water pump! ........... We had planned to leave today as the wind was expected to die away to nothing but we weren't ready and the wind didn't drop until late in the day. John made up a new grating to support the crates with oil, water bottles etc., installed it but left it for the glue to set. Tomorrow morning we can re-stow everything that has been moved before we clear out and weigh anchor at lunchtime. That is the current plan but....... There is one other recurrent problem we are experiencing. The generator works fine for several days then it won't start. The wretched valve clearance has closed again and John has to adjust the tappets. The suggested cause is that the valve seats have recessed into the head and he is fast running out of adjustment, we do not have the time to get this problem sorted before we get home so it looks as if we will be unable to rely on the generator. .......... Hopefully my next post will be from a different island. Joyce Sent from my iPad

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