The Trip To Jerusalem

stmaarten

Today is Wednesday, the 4th day of being without a functioning outboard motor. This means getting to shore has been a bit of a problem. Well, not so much getting ashore but getting back to Glee since the wind has shifted toward the North and Simpson Bay is to the South. It’s been blowing 10 to 20 knots for the last few days.

After breakfast, last Sunday at Vesna Taverna with Mike of “Quinn” and Mason of “Out of Africa” followed by restocking my supplies at the local mini-mart, my motor stalled about 40 metres out of Palapa marina in front of the mega-yachts, toward which the usual Easterly breeze was blowing me. It’s maybe 3/4 of a mile to Glee so out came the oars for a leisurely Sunday morning row and an opportunity to bask in the sun. It probably took me about 10 minutes to get a quarter of the distance before the folks from “Fawkes” offered me a tow for the rest of the way.

It’s one of the striking things about the boaters here that there’s always someone offering a hand to anyone who looks like they need a bit of assistance.

After a cooling dip off the side of Glee and a quick rejuvenating siesta I had a look under the cover of the outboard. It’s not much different to a lawnmower really. A 2 cylinder 2 stroke 9.8hp thing, which brought back memories of my first motorcycles back in the days when it was legal for school kids to buy a 250cc 90mph machine without having to pass a driving test for tempering our foolhardiness. Those were the days, for those of us that survived, anyway.

I found the carburettor drain screw and emptied the bowl. A couple of pulls of the starter cord and the motor fired up.

The good thing about breaking down so soon the next day was that it wasn’t too far to row back to glee, maybe 30 metres. Well, I had food on board; no problems for changing my plans and spending the day on Glee although it’s difficult to chill out with the main means of contact with land being out of action. Stripping down the carburettor revealed sediment and water in the carb bowl, fuel lines and tank. About an hour had the carburettor jets looking clean and pristine; flushing the lines cleared the rusty looking water and decanting the tank cleared the rest.

Not bad for an hour or two… for extending the range of the motor to 50 metres. I couldn’t understand it, the fuel system looked perfect. Brought back memories of all the times I fondly pushed my motorcycle home. Never liked 2 strokes.

The evening brought the stiff prickly sensation announcing the arrival of sunburn. Spending the afternoon, lying on the stern of the dinghy removing, disassembling, cleaning, reassembling, testing and repeating the process several times took time. Even though I was in Gee’s shade the suns rays were finding my pale English hide. It wasn’t too bad, it only hurt if I moved and it felt like I was sleeping on toast crumbs.

Tuesday I had a date with the people at Lowlands Community Garden and I needed to get to Simson bay to catch my ride. Although I was still in possession of a powerless dinghy with an immaculate looking carburettor, I wasn’t going to miss this. I’d been looking forward to it. A chance to get on land and in touch with the island.

Not knowing how to return to Glee would have been enough for me to back out in the past but that’s not been me for a while now. These things are the ingredients for mini adventures.

Here was the plan: the wind was from the North East pointing the stern of glee slightly up the shore from the dinghy dock at Palapa Marina, where I wanted to land. Glee is moored on a bow line so the stern always point downwind. The motor would get me about 50 meters before cutting out so I packed the basics for an overnight jaunt along with some tools and headed South West through the anchorage. By the time the motor died I was pretty much directly upwind from where I wanted to be and a leisurely 20 minute row with a cooling 5 minute rain shower saw me in on shore in Simpson Bay looking at the vegetarian options on the menu of Little Jerusalem, Lebanese cafe consisting of what looks to be a transport container and a covered veranda across the road from Palapa.

“Sit down, young man, and I bring you something berry good.”  That’s service for you, I didn’t even have to choose anything. A bottle of Presidente to wet my whistle before a giant shawarma was carried out in a white paper bag nestling on a disposable plate, reminiscent of a nurse bringing out a new born baby to meet its father for the very first time.

This thing is a kind of kebab of assorted mammals and fowl. Flexitarian – someone with the intent of a vegetarian, but hungry enough to eat any stray critter given the level of hunger. It was actually pretty tasty and very filling -too filling; the baby had returned to the womb.

I was out in time for my ride to the meeting between Lowlands Community Garden and Eco Vie, another community project on the other side of the island. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back to Glee since the wind was, if anything, getting stronger. But I had a full belly and an overnight bag and this small island was my oyster…

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