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Read the post’s title… it’s true, I can’t (‘Je ne parle pas francais’ translates to ‘I can not speak French’). What confuses people is that I can, in my opinion at least, say that particular sentence with a pretty respectable French accent, Sadly, I can speak more Spanish and Portuguese, both languages learned through the short-term use of Pimsleur language tapes, than I can French, a language which I was required to study in school all the way through until Grade 9. I’m doing my best to put into practice what little French I do know while ordering coffee and beer at the restaurants (Oh yeah, we’re back to needing to go to cafes for Wi-Fi). My grade-school French teachers would be so proud!

On the subject of the French, who knew that businesses closing for “siesta” in the early afternoon was the norm in the French islands? We had no idea.

And on an unrelated topic, some people felt that I was a bit hard on the day-charter cat that anchored right off our bow back in St. Martin. After I admitted to struggling to find a spot to anchor amongst all the other boats and mooring balls, a big charter cat comes in and anchors right in front of us several hours later. I knew that he had put out minimal scope because I know how much I put out and I’m convinced that he must have dropped the hook almost on top of our anchor. Did I say anything? No. After getting out in our dinghy and surveying at the boats from a distance, they didn’t appear all that close, at that moment anyway. So what happened? We woke up at 1:00 AM this morning to the sound of a Catana 47 banging on our bow! Yup, they dragged into us and it’s barely blowing 15 knots!

So, as we’re fending off this boat, trying to make sure that their prop does not get caught in our bridle line, our conversation goes like this:

Me: “How much anchor rode do you have out?

Charter cat Captain: “I don’t know, lots!

Me: “Really? I have 150′ out.

Charter cat Captain: “Well we don’t have that much out.

Me: “We’re in 30′ of water and that is only 5:1!

My reply is lost in the wind, along with any chance of a decent night’s sleep. 🙁


  1. You need a BIG PAIR to land a plane there!!!
    “I don’t know” is never a good answer when it comes to anchoring….

  2. Thankfully that Otter will not have a problem, but there are some good youtube videos of pilots not having such good luck there..

    I would recommend being more proactive. Go over to the boat, nicely explain the situation, and offer to be a part of the solution by helping then move and reset. Doesn’t always work, especially with the French. They can have quite the attitude..

    • We were going to do that, especially to question how much rode he had out. At the time though the wind had shifted and he didn’t appear dangerously close.

      Hindsight! Now I know better.

  3. I’ve flown into that airport from the front seat of a small plane with the cockpit door open and a clear view of the island we were about to crash into. Un-Fricken-Believable! Then the very first thing you see after the plane DROPS onto the runway, is a pile of smashed up small planes pushed over to the left of the runway.

  4. Check out the ‘Latitude 38’ article just posted.
    Some good video links also.

  5. Glad ZTC escaped any injury! Love the pic of Rebecca with that big anchor!

  6. I thought ALL Canadians had to be able to clatter away in French. Evidently wrong. So I suppose that explains your excellent (un-french) English! 🙂


  7. Completely unrelated, However, Mike and other followers. What do you think of, as a concept catamaran, a cat powered by 2 docked personal watercraft? Change the rear of the pontoons to accept 2 PWC’s. And a system that some how connects them to the helm, therefor becoming the propulsion for the boat? Yes I know PWC’s are the bane of the morring harbor, however, they are more powerful than 9.9hp motors, useful, and detachable for repairs? yes you’d loose some internal space, use small PWC’s. But how’d you like to go windward at 20kts?

  8. It’s not just the French islands thats France. Unless you find somewhere with service continu (cities and tourist hotspots) you’ll go hungry after 1400.

  9. So while there is no defense for the charter captain who: a) doesn’t know his ground tackle; b) didn’t set well an;d c) is an idiot by all accounts, I’d also caution against the 5:1 or 7:1 or :1 mentality. If you were in the Pacific Northwest, for example, and put out 5:1 just about anywhere, you’d bang against the cove walls as well as every other boat and we’d all smack you upside the head. I distinctly remember my sailing instructor telling me that the ASA test required us to select 7:1 on that question but if he EVER saw us in the San Juans with that much out, he’d personally come over and cut us a new one. On the other side, if you put out less than 10:1 in a norther in one of the little sandy coves up the Sea of Cortez where you are sitting in 15′, you’re in a world of hurt.

    Scope is dependent on so many things, I’m not going to bother to start listing them. The bigger issue is this nit wit put in tackle directly upwind and with much too small a gap. I like ConchyJoe’s suggestion. Volunteering to help reset the hook is a good way to make clear your unhappiness while proactively finding a solution. OTOH, moving yourself is sometimes the only option.

    • I hear you and of course agree. We try to anchor in places where we can put out adequate scope though. They key word being adequate. The circumstances of the anchorage will always govern what we can get away with. The guy in front of me obviously did NOT have enough rode out. Additionally, the other guy told me he had “a couple of boat lengths out.” He was in a boat approximately 40′ in length in about 30′ of water!

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