Sunday, January 29, 2017

1979 (10) - St. Maarten - Part 2

Me, in St. Maarten.  I was wearing my Bitter End Yacht Club t-shirt.

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

Hanging around St. Maarten started to get old.  When Sunnie offered me a temporary job, I went to work for International Supply.  The company is a huge auto parts store, similar to the Western Auto’s back home.  A frantic sales counter served customers who stood around holding mufflers, tail pipes, and the like.  It was the only place in the Caribbean I’d seen that actually bustled.  

My first assignment was putting together their six-month paint order.  I also set up a cross reference system of part numbers for different manufacturers of exhaust systems, labeled stock, wrote up orders, and performed other tasks that were reminiscent of my library days.  As I was out of practice at working, I made it through five days, then took a three-day weekend, worked two more days, and haven’t been back for almost a week.  International Supply is starting five days of inventory, and I’m sure I can make myself useful updating their card system.  I got $30/day, and an employee discount at International Supply.

Mermaid of Carriacou

While waiting in St. Maarten, we took a three-day trip to sail to St. Barts, a French island about twelve miles south of St. Maarten.  Thanks to the prevailing winds, it was six hours over - and three hours back.  Our little trip gave us the opportunity to practice leaving and entering a harbor under sail, a good thing to know when your engine is less than reliable.  We did fine, which means we didn't run into any other boats.  While in St. Barts, we visited the stores and finished our Christmas shopping.  We had heard that the people there speak English, but the truth was, they spoke English about as well as I spoke French - vaguely.  I conducted the whole transaction in a bakery in French, which may sound good, but we ended up with turnovers stuffed with vegetables, instead of fruit.  It never occurred to me to ask what was inside of them. 

Post card from St. Barts

The engine parts never did arrive from England and, after a month, we finally gave up on them.  We left Sunnie's address with the post office in case the parts showed up.  We also cabled England again, asking them to initiate a trace, and to send replacements to Ed's parents' address in New York.  By that point, we had spent $100 on a $10 part, and still had nothing to show for it.  Sometimes things go that way.  We had made airline reservations to fly Stateside for the holidays, leaving Antigua on December 17th.  With only two weeks left to reach Antigua, and make arrangements for securing the boat, we figured that it was time to be on our way.

Church in St. Maarten

The day we planned to leave St. Maarten, we motored into Bobby's Marina for fuel and water.  We had a little trouble going in, as we had to drop an anchor off our bow, and back up between two other boats, to tie our stern to the dock.  Tropic Moon has a thing about going backwards - she won't if she can avoid it.  The wind was from astern, and we were trying to fend off from the two neighboring boats, which happened to be unoccupied.  A fellow came along the dock and caught our stern line to tie us off.  The docking rope slipped out of the cleat, came up against the wooden support for the dinghy engine, and started ripping off the wooden post.  We had Tropic Moon pulling one way, and this fellow on the dock pulling the other way. 

Ed reached in to grab the rope to put it back in the cleat.  In doing so, he managed to cut his finger open on a screw.  We got Tropic Moon secured, and Ed went below before I saw what had happened.  He bled all over cushion, deck and cockpit, and down below he sprayed the head with blood - it was on the toilet, sink, walls and mirror.  We did a little tourniquet on his finger, and used a Band-Aid to tape the ends together, which had received a long L-shaped cut.  The only way I can describe how bad the cut was, is to say that Ed almost went to the hospital for stitches (he has no use for doctors or hospitals), but then changed his mind.  I should have gone in for a sedative.  We filled up on fuel and water, rested awhile, and decided it was too late to leave for Antigua.  At 4:00 p.m., we reanchored in the bay.

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