Winter Solstice & Christmas Winds

Happy Winter Solstice from sunny St Maarten! Is it really Christmas in 4 days – where has the time gone? On that note, this is typically the time the “Christmas Winds” arrive on island as well, and, this week they certainly have. We’re currently seeing a steady 23kts on our gauges and gusts upwards of 30kts (that’s a steady 55kph). With that force, it really rolls the boats around a lot in the marina. We’ve added a couple of extra docking lines and fortunately had a neighbour arrive today to windward which should help to take a bit of the wind off our boat. One difference between monohauls and the catamaran we own is the height they present to the wind. Unfortunately for us, the dock position we’re in the wind constantly hits us from side or rear-side. We’re locked down tight and expect the myriad nightly noises should prove to keep us awake a little more often tonight. In any case, we should be good as the winds appear to die off just after Christmas a little.

Last Thursday we had some guests on the island – the mother of a good friend of ours was here off a cruise ship. We basically had a day-off to chauffeur the group around the island and check out some of the highlights. Always great to see other people’s reactions and impression of the things we find fun and this trip didn’t disappoint either.

We have both been enjoying the weather for some training in the morning. I did a run the other day and damn near died. Picked a road we’ve driven 1000 times, and never really seemed that hilly. Well, I can tell you, it seemed like it really was uphill both directions, and the winds were of course not favourable either. Interestingly, it’s always nice to get back to the boat and jump in the marina shower (which has no hot water) and cool off for a few minutes. The running is beautiful here, and there are lots of cyclists around…….perhaps we need to get our bikes here sooner than later?

Speaking of runs, we did our first dinghy-based food run today. Not as painful as expected, but there are some new things to experience and sort out. And as noted earlier, with the wind, there is no dry water-based excursion as there is a lot of spray. Cindy can comment more on that, as she does take a bit more in the bow. We’ve visited what seems like every large, small, and in between grocery store in the last week finding the best pricing and highest quality food/drinks. Not an easy feat as prices are often in one of several currencies, and discounts are negotiable. They also deliver if you’re local, which makes grabbing 5 12-pack cases of water a heck of a lot easier. We also picked up some more reliable 4G Internet (we hope) as the local marina wifi is pretty hit and miss at times. We don’t really want to be overly connected, but when you do, it’s frustrating to have constant timeouts and such.

Today we also solved our refrigerator/freezer dilemma. The fridge kept freezing things solid, and we couldn’t find any way to stop this from happening other than to cycle the power on and off which proved to be a bit more of an art than a science. While digging around today sorting out some electrical, I found the (obvious) solution. They had buried the controls (on full) behind a panel, that was behind a door, in one cabin, hidden on the backside of the panel – why oh why would they mount them there I don’t know, it was hard to get the screws OUT and I can’t imagine putting them in! I extricated the controls from their hidden and awkward position and cut a hole in the fibreglass and mounted them in plain view with the help of some tools from our Canadian neighbours on “Hedonism” – they actually have a full fledged workshop on their boat! Hopefully after a few days of tinkering we can find the optimal settings and stop blowing stuff up in the fridge and melting ice in the freezer.

The marina is now full and full of lots of Christmas decorations. Pretty cool to see how folks from Canada, New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland, USA, and others all celebrate the holiday. Also remarkable is the islands spirit when it comes to the season – gas stations, grocery stores, bars, restaurants, and anything else has tons of decorations up. Pretty nice to see, and funny to see actual live Christmas trees here – at a healthy $100+ for small ones.

Anyway, best get back to securing some lines, and a rum or two.

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