Exhausted

The truth is, I’m exhausted.  I know, I know.  Not too much sympathy out there for the guy living on a boat in the Caribbean, but that’s the truth.  Nonetheless, I thought I’d take this opportunity to enumerate a few mistakes I’ve made as I’m going through this massive learning curve:

Alain - one of the technicians - working on our boat...after we'd stowed the groceries.  He looks how I feel.

Alain - one of the technicians - working on our boat...after we'd stowed the groceries.  He looks how I feel.

  • I plugged my iPhone to charge it.  No problem worked fine.  Our boat is made in France, so all the wiring is 220V.  U.S. is 110V.  The nice thing about Apple products is they’re made to function all over the world.  So I was even able to plug in the iMac we brought along and it worked like a charm.  The printer/scanner we brought…not so much.  We have adapters that allow us to plug in U.S. wired devices, but they don’t regulate the currency.  (Stay with me, this is where my eyes start to glaze over too.)  Turns out running 220V into a 110V device is a bad thing for everyone; the device and you.  I heard a popping sound when I plugged in the printer.  Our printer/scanner is kaput.  I found some instructions on line on how to fix it.  They involve a soldering kit, a 4 amp resister from Radio Shack, a lot of disassembling instructions.  I’ve soldered exactly one thing in my whole life.  So we’ll see about that one.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry at the moment.

  • We rented a car for a couple days to help with some of the early-days errands.  Emily and I went out this morning and got a lot done: visited Budget Marine--the large chandlery here on the island (“chandlery” is the fancy word for “boat hardware” store.  Again…the French : )   We found a place to get some laundry done, and made a few visits to get quotes on a couple of projects (solar panels and maybe a wind generator).  Even though we haven’t really even sailed anywhere yet, my body has adjusted to the constant, gentle roll of living on the water.  So this really nice and knowledgable guy named Laurence, with a killer Dutch accent, is trying to explain Ohms, Volts, Amphours, Wattage, etc. (all stuff I remember enjoying and understanding in my 12th grade physics class), but all I could think about was ‘I’ve got to stay on the feet.’)  I made it through with a couple of written quotes and a head ready to explode with information.  I knew this was coming, but I didn’t have time to bone up on my electricity facts.  I wish I’d made the time.  But then again, there’s better time to learn than when you have to.  That’s right now.  This one's still a work in progress.  Stay tuned.
     
  • Since we have the car for another day, and the kids were patiently waiting at the boat, we decided to get them ‘out of the house’ and took them for a drive around St. Martin/Saint Maarten.  [Quick Tangent: the whole island is split.  North side = French.  South Side = Dutch.  French = Saint Martin.  Dutch = Sint Maarten.  Clear enough?  Ohms, volts, amps, watts…   Learning curve.  End Tangent.]  Despite being a place known for tropical relaxation, one of the most unfortunate aspects of the island is the amount of traffic.  Too many cars for the little, windy roads that crawl around and up this hillsides.  Today we were one of them.  We made the mistake of happening to be on the way home, passing the airport, when it was bridge opening time.  Seven times a day, the bridge downtown lifts up to let boats pass between the lagoon, known as Simpson Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.  We had nice chance to sit in rush hour traffic for about an hour while this happened.  But driving around the island was an amazing overview of the cultures and landscape that make up Saint Martin/Sint Maarten.  The French side is much simpler. Natural beauty is better preserved and it is far less developed.  They only use the euro.  The Dutch side has Kentucky Fried Chicken, a multiplex and an international airport.  They use the dollar, the gilder (Dutch currency) and the euro.  That’s the side you go to when you need to get things done. You go to the French side when you need a baguette.  Or in our case, a boat.

So I’m exhausted.  But the truth is I got to spend the day with my wife and children in a beautiful place.  We’re tackling problems and challenges as best we know how.  I ate three square meals.  I took a shower.  My kids got to swim at the beach.  And I’m learning a ton.  Lots to be grateful for.

The Ortons aboard Fezywig in Capt. Oliver's Marina, Oyster Pond, St. Martin, French West Indies.

The Ortons aboard Fezywig in Capt. Oliver's Marina, Oyster Pond, St. Martin, French West Indies.

Here’s a nice shot Gwen Robic (our hostess/boat broker) took of our family on the boat.  Oh, yeah!  The boat actually moved today.  They’ve finished all but one project.  So it was time to get it off the technical dock.  We’re still in the same marina (Oyster Pond), but a new location.  More wobbling at night, since the wind now come across our beam instead of our bow, but we’ll live.  Hoping to sail Fezywig around to Simpson Bay (and cross through the draw bridge) in the next day or so to knock out the last few additions we want to make before heading off to some other islands. 

Time to sleep now.