On Saturday, I finally identified and corrected the cause of the engine overheating. Or, to be more accurate, it took me so long to identify the cause that the problem eventually made itself obvious to me. While running the engine to cool the refrigerator, the cover on the heat exchanger came flying off and seawater began gushing into the engine room. Although I had checked all of the hoses to assure that there was no blockage of the water needed to cool the engine, I had not checked inside the heat exchanger. The removal of the cover made it apparent that there was salt build-up blocking the water flow. After removing the blockage, the engine ran fine and my overheating problem was a thing of the past (until the next time).
Riding high from my maintenance success, I spent the afternoon in town watching soccer. That evening, I was finally able to meet some real French people. I cannot fully explain why I suddenly went from being invisible to being the toast of the town, but I think that it might be that I have drank so much wine in the past three weeks that I am now technically a French citizen. Whatever the reason, for a day I was a king. On Sunday, the world returned to its regular orbit and everything went back to normal. Once again, I am no longer capable of even the simplest boat maintenance and no French person will deign to acknowledge my existence.
My cooking on the boat has had its ups and downs. Since I cannot afford to eat the exotic dishes listed at the many gourmet restaurants in St. Martin, I have attempted to replicate the dishes in my humble galley. On Tuesday, I was seeking an inexpensive meat and found something identified as “viande anima,” which I translated as “animal meat.” I should have been scared off by the fact that the label did not identify what kind of animal and that the meat was less expensive than hot dogs. However, I like to think that I have an iron stomach and I have eaten some strange foods during visits to China, Japan, and India. I’m still not sure what I ate, but I would not recommend viande anima unless you enjoying chewing each bite for about 20 minutes before being able to swallow it.
I had hoped to visit Anguilla during the week since the island lies only 10 miles north of St. Martin. A cousin, Elaine Graybill, is building a house on Anguilla and was kind enough to provide me with information and contacts on the island. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. The entire week was hot and humid with rain showers passing through whenever the humidity became nearly unbearable. I will have to save my visit to Anguilla’s highly regarded beaches for another time.
On Friday, Dad arrived in St. Martin to help me move the boat down to Trinidad. His arrival meant that the boat would finally get the attention that it sorely needs and that I would get to enjoy some good meals on a vastly different budget. In preparation for our trip to Trinidad, we installed a new alternator, replaced the masthead VFH, and slightly raised the staysail to improve the sailshape. As usual, every task ended up being much more complicated and taking longer than we expected. However, we are now ready to depart and tomorrow morning we will start our passage to Trinidad, where warm roti’s and the friendly confines of Joe’s Pizza await us.