On Wednesday having got the blog published we headed back to Morphie. We had planned to snorkel but both felt pretty tired – so we had a lazy afternoon before heading back into the Old Gin House to meet Lyle and Julia for dinner. This was BBQ night and we all chose ribs…. something none of us had had for a while….. Well, they were fantastic with loads of meat on them. While we were eating Will came over to entertain us with stories of goings on in his pub in Wales which he ran many years ago. Will is currently the food and beverage manager of the hotel – although plans to return to Wales at the end of the month after 20+ years on Statia. Anyway….he was delighted that we were obviously thoroughly enjoying our ribs…. so he brought out a few more in foil…. We shared them between us – and then he brought out another lot – which went down again… Phew didn’t think we’d manage them… and then he brought us some more!!!! Please no more – full up!!! But we managed them anyway…. After a few more drinks – and a bit of a break – we had desert, or rather Richard and Lyle did while Julia and I nabbed a couple of spoonfuls off of them… Absolutely lovely evening had by all…… Followed by another rolly night in the anchorage.
On Thursday we went in to customs to clear out – startling a tiny lizard on the dinghy dock – and back to the bar to get our final internet fix.
Back on board we had planned to definitely snorkel today but, oh no, it’s very grey and overcast and is raining a bit. So we’d managed to miss our opportunity as the visibility had reduced. Damn….. We kept ourselves busy doing some boat jobs getting ourselves and Morphie ready to go to sea again. We had arranged to go over for final sundowners with Lyle and Julia to say goodbye…but only for a couple of hours as we want to be up early on Friday. Taking our life in our hands we get off Morphie into dink – the swells are horrendous again – and onto Orion. And then the heavens opened….. and there was thunder and lightning….. and it rained and rained and rained. Absolutely torrential – no way we were getting back in dink in that! So we ended up staying a bit longer and having more sundowners than we planned….but had a great time anyway! With hugs all around – and invites to British Columbia to see bears and salmon if we are ever heading that way – we say sad farewells. We were so glad to have caught up with them again even if it was only for a short while.
Oh yes… and this generous couple gave us a new book for our onboard library, which they found particularly helpful when visiting Spanish speaking islands. Very generous of them, and we’ll definitely have use of it next season… In return we donated some red wine to their cellar.
Overnight it continued to rain and roll…. Will be glad to leave now…
Early Friday morning we head out into the rain and say goodbye to a wet and cold Statia. First time for a while that we are actually wearing jackets! We decide not to get the sails out until we get passed the oil terminal so enjoy motoring along watching the big ships up close – particularly the one that was being held in place by a tug while he was attached by massive hoses looking like an umbilical cord to some floating buoy – think this is how they fuel the ships up from their stocks.
Getting clear of the top of Statia and into the channel we hoisted the sails – and have a nice reach in about 15 knots of breeze. Then the wind dies down a bit….then there is a squall coming….so we reef down…..and then we have no wind followed by light winds which have shifted abaft the beam so reefs were shaken out. Progress was pretty slow… Then the wind shifts ahead of us and sticks. So we are now wallowing around in big grey cold seas so we change course to get some wind – and then the wind just dies. So we put the motor on, furl the sails, and take the opportunity to make water while we crash into the waves…. Then we see a massive squall ahead…and thunder and lightning…and torrential rain. With poor visibility we were grateful for the AIS giving advance warning of some big traffic out there. Eventually after eight quite miserable soggy hours we pull into the anchorage at Philipsburg…. and it’s raining….. Checking the time we realise that we will not make it into customs before it closes at 4pm so we clean ourselves up, raise the yellow quarantine flag, have some dinner and an early night. It was flat calm and felt like we were tied up in a marina. Bliss!
Saturday and we headed in early to customs – found the dinghy dock under a cute little bridge – and got directions to the commercial port.
We ended up walking for about 20 minutes until we arrived – but customs and immigration were relatively simple and we were now legal. So we headed into Philipsburg town – having checked dink was safe and secure on the way back – and wandered along the boardwalk until we found a café that would serve us breakfast and had internet. Mission accomplished and we wandered along – having to fend off all the deckchair vendors and ladies selling jewellery and clothing – and enjoyed the change of scene, from sleepy Statia to this holiday town. There were loads of people milling about as there was a cruise ship in town today.
As we enjoyed the walk we noticed a black rib with black-clothed guys – looking like the SAS with guns and everything – board a local boat out in the anchorage. That’s the customs people then! Guess it’ll be our turn one of these days!
At the end of the boardwalk we walked back to the duty free shopping street which is the road behind. Strange to see beautiful old buildings such as the courthouse and the church nestled in amongst all the stores.
As we are heading later on this season to Bonaire – which is renowned for its diving – we want to buy a waterproof housing for our camera. It is a waterproof camera (thanks again to Carolyn and Ron) but only to 43 feet which is great for snorkelling but most of our diving will be deeper than that. Thought this would be simple here…. Every camera / electronics shop visited to no avail – damn! In his disappointment, Richard didn’t fancy buying me any diamonds, rubies or emeralds with the money he had saved so we headed back to the boardwalk via the bank for more drinking vouchers…. all the time trying to avoid the torrential rain showers.
We eventually settled into the Dirty Sanchez Crew Bar and got chatting to the Dutch barmaid, a foursome from Yorkshire, and a lady from Florida…. Not all at the same time LOL. We were just leaving and the Hungarian owner gave us a free round or two….
Eventually we decided to call it a day and headed back – via the chandlery to buy a Sint Maarten courtesy flag and the grocery store for some fresh bread. Back on board, flags swapped, we waved goodbye to the cruise ship, we had dinner down below to avoid the rain and eventually to bed. During the night the wind howled, the rain was torrential, there was more thunder and lightning, and the boat rocked and rolled…. Felt just like Statia!
This morning – Sunday – and it’s still grey and stormy with high humidity. Our beautiful turquoise sea has turned a little greenish, which we assume is run-off from the hills? Yuck!!!!
Anyway…. nothing much planned… other than to go ashore to blog, perhaps get some lunch, and chill. Of course, that’s assuming that anything is open as there is no cruise ship here today. Fingers crossed this weather system will blow itself out by tonight so that we can sleep better – the upside is that Morphie is now completely clean with no salt remaining from her rough passage with very little effort from us!
Bye for now