Sailing back to St John from the BVI’s i decided to “do things the right way” and clear in. If you read the US coast guard rules carefully it is written that boats that are unable to support motorized propulsion and are under 10 M are exempt from registration. This little known fact is why almost no nativo is registered, and gets away with it. But good luck trying to educate an “officer of the law” about the law..

After alluding threateningly to the risk of having my boat confiscated, he warned me to get the paperwork in order a.s.a.p. and i shuffled out of there as quickly as possible,.. but wait ! There’s more; a uniformed lady stops me to ask if i’m aware of the rules concerning on board refuse. Foolishly i confess that i don’t to which she gives me a paper foldout and goes over the rules in pedantic detail. Turns out any garbage containing organic matter from non US countries (such as the BVI’s) is considered a bio hazard and needs to get disposed of at the special incinerator for hazardous wastes, at my expense naturally. Kitchen refuse cannot be stored on deck or there is a fine for that, such as used paper plates, she added. Paper plates? I have never and will never waste valuable treewood for such a purpose, i have proper plates that get washed and re-used for one’s whole lifetime, i was thinking, also realizing that the fact that we wash them right in the seawater was no doubt a felony as well, so i just smiled and nodded politely. In fact all our kitchen refuse which is bio degradable just goes straight overboard to feed the crabs and other marine detrivores. At sea, tin cans and glass go right over the side as well, since they turn into iron oxide and sand respectively, at no environmental harm. What i do not throw at sea is plastic, for obvious reasons. Since i detest having garbage build up on board what i do before a trip is put all the plastic packaged food sans package in big jars i have which are roach proof and all the plastic goes right back ashore to the tip. That way no problematic garbage builds up on board.

At any rate i kept my garbage philosophy to myself and with a great self restraint managed to not blurt out «so how do you manage to round up all the birds that fly across from Tortola without having checked in whilst joyously pooping the whole time, so that they can be incinerated?»

The sermon over, i was not sad to get out of that office!

Oasis leaving the Virgins

Leaving St John with poor weather clouds gathering.

Note how the dinghy sits tucked behind the coach roof; weight low down, and offering an absolute minimum of windage. Also in the most convenient position possible to just untie, flip over and slide over the rail into the water. This picture was taken just out the bay, which is why it’s still so calm.

St John is a very strange island. It is the logical conclusions of extreme gentrification. Rich people (read really really rich) have been buying up property, driving up prices to astronomical heights. Then the locals can’t afford a roof and feel marginalized, forgetting of course that they sold voluntarily. Once that gets started it escalates into a severely divided society, with tremendous amounts of tension.

The rich people create a dumpster diving paradise though. A friend there showed me an almost brand new fairly decent bicycle he found at the dump; the only thing wrong with it was a flat tyre! I might have been tempted to see what goodies i could scavenge too but had neither the time nor the desire to see a single extra thing added to the already overloaded Oasis.

Here a friendly neighbour on a catamaran gave me his storm jib, saying he had retired from sailing and so would no longer need it and i did make an exception to not wanting more stuff on board when it’s something that makes the boat safer. This proved to be an extremely valuable addition the Oasis’s set of sails, fitting perfectly and with a very flat cut, which is what you want in strong winds. At the same time, the Oasis’s other jib, the original one, which came with the boat, i had recut as a storm mainsail.

After a few days in St John getting some more things done onboard we left, just as the weather was turning for the worse, heading towards St Martin.

Now it’s certain that the Caribbean can’t compare to the wild and wooly North Sea (save for when there is a hurricane!) but that is not a reason to allow the azure skies and limpid waters lull one into thinking that it is always idyllic. In fact it can get quite brave and unpleasant at times. Naturally no pics of the best moments, not really thinking about taking pictures when things get hectic, and besides, i always worry about getting the camera wet. Suffice to say therefore that soon after leaving the wind picked up to about force six or seven and the waves quickly became lumpen and confused, the boat leaping and bucking over them, the lee rail awash as i put more reefs in the jib.

Then i discovered the Oasis was leaking a rather unacceptable amount. I pondered carrying on like this across the Anegada passage which is famous for its vicious seas or turning back to St John losing precious distance gained to windward and possibly having to re encounter the menacing customs man.. Studying the chart i saw that there was actually a little cove just north of us that we could shelter in and i could see what this leak was really about.

It proved to be a wonderfully calm anchorage with astonishingly transparent water. No motor boats, no houses, just peace and quiet.

Oasis leak repair

Oasis heeled over with weights attached to the boom end.

Remarkably i was able to locate the leak very easily (this is not the usual case with a leak) and it turned out to be a deteriorated butt seam. I would just have to patch it temporarily with some epoxy putty. Since it was near the waterline and knowing from experience how hard it is to force putty into a crack underwater such that it remains stuck to the hull rather that the spatula, or neither, dropping to the seafloor, i decided to heel the boat such that the bad seam would be just free of the water.

With the 5000 kg of lead ballast, 2.2 M draft and 3.3 M of beam the Oasis is certainly quite stiff but at least the boom is long enough to give enough leverage to heel the boat over usefully. With anchors, chain and buckets of water at the end of the boom i was able to get the damaged area just out of the water.

bad butt seam

The end of the plank at the butt seam was not looking terribly healthy.

A bit of PC11 epoxy putty took care of this leak.

Boy in bosun chair

Hauling an excessively chatty child up the mast keeps him otherwise amused for a little while.

Cooking corn breads

My wife making us some delicious corn bread.

My internet will be cut off any day now since i stopped paying for it, so this will be the last post for a while i think. By next post i should be in a more stable situation i hope.

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