Sint Maarten Projects

Jazz already told the story of how our stay in Sint Maarten got an unexpected extension. But despite working with some handicaps, we still managed to tick off a lot of boat projects. Of course, the main one was getting our rig replaced. FKG got the mast off and back on in under 24 hours. They still hit their cost estimate, but only because they ended up adding six new turnbuckles. Excellent news! It’s so rare that a marine project comes in under budget…

In the meantime, Villa looked pretty disturbingly naked. Note the bucket on the bow – as FKG worked on the rigging, we were de-rusting and re-galvanizing our secondary anchor.

We got both of our finicky alternators serviced. Electec fixed the innards, and Havin’s Marine fabricated a shim to make the older one fit without wobbling and destroying belts quite so fast.

We replaced the winch covers we’d made out of substandard Dominican fabric, which almost immediately fell apart, with some genuine Sunbrella.

The one on the right is maybe 3 months old

In fact, we ended up doing a lot of work in Sunbrella. On top of building the new enclosure, we made some bags for the new outdoor table and the new screens, some shades for the bimini-top windows, and a couple of miscellaneous hanging bags.

Did I mention the new screens, that zip into the same places as the waterproof panels? And the new folding cockpit cocktail table?

And for that matter, the new salon table? We’d already given up on the boat sleeping its full host of 9 when we cut the original one, but we’d been finding both the drop-leaf format and the lengthwise folds uncomfortable. We tried to commission a new table while we were in the DR, but after multiple issues getting a reasonable piece of wood to work with, we abandoned the project. So when we realized that we would have a shipping address in Sint Maarten, we took a last look online, and found Marine Teak in the UK had something almost the same size and shape. I knew it would make the salon more functional, but the difference is even bigger than I expected.

We also made bags for the cockpit side panels, which nest under the new solar panels.

Some of you may remember our flexible bimini-top panels. We were experimenting with a no-name brand off of Amazon, because they fit the space better than anything else. Unfortunately, they were not built to survive wind and salt water, and finally gave up the mechanical ghost in the 45-knot gusts off of Virgin Gorda. We tied them back on, and they still produced some power, but ultimately, we decided that duct tape was not a long term mounting solution. And since Budget Marine happened to be having a sale, we got a great deal on the biggest panels we could fit, and went from 350 to 420 watts up top, or 820 total. Plus now we have better hand-holds for going forward under way.

We also made a cover for our new grill (did I mention the shiny new grill?), and some covers for Dinkus’s handles to protect them from rubbing against the davits. And a new shade-slash-rain-collection system for the transom, though admittedly we haven’t quite finished with that last part just yet.

We ended up using a lot more fabric, and a lot more snaps, than we thought, so we ended up taking a lot of trips to see the super-helpful people at the Tropical Sail Loft. Captain sometimes came along to verify the fabric samples.

At some point in the operation, I dropped a plexiglass panel on my face. Jazz patched me up nicely. On the right, I’m sizing a loop to make a new dyneema soft shackle: one of the riggers gave us the advice that with a sling and snatch block like this, we could use the bigger winches to raise the main. That should make it much easier for Jazz if she ever has to single-hand, because our dedicated halyard winch isn’t self-tailing.

Speaking of things with rope, we added a second furling line, so now we have one dedicated to each reef point. Previously, there was just one line, run through the first reef point to the second, which meant that the leech was super floppy with one reef in the main. No pictures of that, because it’s hard to photograph a big hollow tube.

What else? Well, Villa was due for a polish and wax, so we gave her one. With the new solar panels in the mix, we were able to run the buffer and the Sailrite at anchor without ever having to worry about power, so that’s nice – though we started while we were still at the marina, so that’s what you see here.

We also touched up the paint on the bimini roof after installing the solar panels, and replaced what turned out to be criminally-degraded cockpit speakers. Apparently even with a cover on them, UV and salt air just eat through these things.

We re-bedded the bow pulpit, at least on the port side where we thought there might be a leak. It’s hard to say, because the other possible culprit is the missing nose cone you can see in the back of these pictures, and we finally fixed that too.

All of this under the watchful eye of the friendly local Budget Marine.