Tarka and I have finally left St Martin after final preparations and the arrival of favorable wind and sea conditions. St Martin had become familiar: I knew where the best and most affordable groceries could be found, where I could stock up on fuel and water, and which bars had the best happy hour. I also grew to know the community. If I needed help fixing something, or a part for my engine, help was just a radio call away. In what is perhaps a fault of my own character, I become bored with familiarity and thirst for change. It was time for a change.
It’s finally time to leave. Tarka has been repaired and a weather window is opening, so it’s about damn time that we head south. Interestingly enough though, there is a tropical wave heading toward the Windward Islands, that has a small chance of developing into a tropical storm. Most likely though, it’ll brush through with nothing more than an increase in thunderstorm activity, and we should be well North when it does so.
It’s technically hurricane season down here in the Caribbean, but a series of setbacks and a lack of the right wind have kept me from departing. This is my first real encounter with the whole “draw your plans with a stick in the sand at low tide” phenomena – harkening back to my very first blog.
The setbacks have been a mixed bag. On the lighter side, my US vessel documentation eventually went through, but it took longer than I expected because of a mistake (yours truly) made on a form. The very moment I awoke to see the e-mail from the US Coast Guard that Tarka was now officially a US vessel, I went outside and swapped out the St. Martin flag for an American one. I’m now legal and free to travel!
Read more “Boulevard of Broken Rigging”
Okay, it’s rainbows, but it’s definitely not butterflies. In fact, it’s roaches. It turns out that surrounding oneself with a moat of ocean is insufficient protection from mankind’s most hated pest. I discovered my unwanted crew mate crawling on my arm while trying to get some sleep during an already restless night. I threw him off my arm and leapt to the companionway. I contemplated sending out a mayday call, or perhaps firing a flare. In the end, I just stood watch, and slept with the lights on. That said, I have heard stories of people intentionally sinking their boats to get rid of a rat, and then re-floating the boat once the bugger was surely dead. I think I’ll keep Tarka afloat for now, and maybe get a cat.
June is fast approaching, and that means hurricane season is just over the horizon. It’s time to prepare myself and Tarka for our southerly departure.
Tarka in Road Bay, Anguilla
One of those boxes is: how exactly do I sail this boat? Just like riding a bicycle, knowing the theory is wholly insufficient. The two short sails I went on in the previous weeks were easy, short, and uncomplicated. They also didn’t involve arriving in a new port or anchoring in unfamiliar territory. I was thus both excited and anxious to make my first real passage this week.
Read more “Checking Boxes”
Boys arrive and get right into it.
This week was marked by the arrival of Mark, Brian and Rambert from the states. Their visit was a much-welcomed break from boat work, voyage prep, and passage planning. They also (quite kindly) brought several bags worth of stuff I needed on the boat, such as ascenders for climbing the mast, a locator beacon if things go very badly, a kite for flying off the stern, and a whole host of other goodies. They also brought with them some mighty foul weather.
Prior to Tarka’s first sail, we had been spending our time together in the lagoon. The lagoon has its advantages: there are no waves, we were tied to a hurricane-strength mooring, and I was central to all the happy-hour establishments. But there are distinct disadvantages. For one, the boat just becomes a floating home – it doesn’t get to sail. Swimming also isn’t an option, as the lagoon water is foul. We refer to it as the “poo water”, and every now and then you get some poo water in your face while using the dinghy to get around.
Read more “Tarka Sails!”
I’ve now spent one week aboard aboard Tarka in beautiful St. Martin of the northern Leeward Islands. I’ve quit my job, I’ve bought a boat, and now have arrived with grand plans to sail the world aboard this tiny boat. One thing I know without a doubt is that she’s up to the task; she’s done it before! The real question is, am I?
Read more “Draw your plans with a stick, in the sand, at low tide”