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Saturday, April 13, 2019

March 12 – April 12, 2019 – Saint Martin Getting Things Done, and a Major Decision

We knew that the island of St. Martin had taken a direct hit from the hurricane, and although the damage was near total devastation, we had heard that the Dutch side had already recovered much better than the French. We further knew that most of the marinas and yacht services were located inside the massive lagoon that is shared by both sides, and yet it is full of debris and sunken vessels.  I had contacted several marinas to find that either the prices were out of sight, they were full or that the facilities weren’t very nice.  We set our sites on Simpson’s Bay, Sint Maarten.  On arrival we anchored just outside the bridge that leads into the lagoon where several boats for hire, tour boats, commercial vessels and charter boats are moored. Although quite pretty, we were miserable in this crowded anchorage where boat wakes came at us constantly from every direction. We stayed for the night to rest up from our trip over from Nevis, and set off early Wednesday morning for the massive Marigot Bay on the French side of the island, quite popular among the yachting community.  It was also quite congested and exposed to high winds but at least we were among our own kind of sailors.

I wish I could say that this was an exciting, adventurous and interesting island to visit and yet we spent most of our time getting long awaited services done.  A good bit of that time was spent waiting for appointments and for service providers to come and go.  We were pretty much boat-bound for several days on end. One day, while going to shore we noticed the dinghy was losing air again. Fortunately Shrimpy’s does dinghy repair and is very close by. With even more new patches no one will be stealing this little guy! We enlisted Dr. Diesel to install our new injectors and to completely clean and service the generator which took a couple of weeks and a lot of $$$ to complete, but now the thing is practically new.  We had the 6 teak steps around the cockpit completely replaced.  Jackie Keelhoward of Sew Nauti Upholstery was finally replacing the cockpit cushions. She was in such high demand that although we had given her the date of our arrival she didn’t get to us for a week to take measurements and to do an assessment. After that was done we waited a full 3 weeks to get the new cushions but they are well worth the wait. We are finally happy to sit in our cockpit on our new thick, comfy cushions!!! Frank did his routine maintenance (in bilges and engine compartments) and I did mine, polishing things and re-treating the teak cap rail and accents, cleaning out lockers and rearranging as always. We were preparing for our trip across the Gulf to Bonaire, which we will begin as soon as Destiny is ready. We plan to hang around there for a little while, then visit Curacao before taking Destiny to Aruba to store for the summer. We fly home from Aruba on May 18, 2019.
Destiny's new cockpit cushions
On the few days that we could break away, we spent off the boat as much as possible, hitting the well-stocked chandleries, the massive Cost-U-Less (carries Costco Kirkland products), and the giant Carrefour market. We never managed to find a fresh market but we did get to the most amazing French bakeries and restaurants. We walked as much as possible and ate very well probably putting on about 10 lbs. each. I tried to swim for exercise but there was too much wind and current, wakes from boats zipping by and the water was freezing. We did enjoy watching turtles swim around us, amazed that there weren’t a group of dead ones floating by after being hit by the racing dinghies. Even here everyone in a dinghy is in a big hurry.
A happy man indeed!
One of our favorite meals here

Each morning at 7:30, Mike of Shrimpy’s Laundry controls the Cruiser’s Net on VHF Ch 10 giving weather reports, making announcements for social activities, seminars and services and also allowing cruisers/yachties to trade info, offer goods to swap and to generally catch up on what’s happening around the area. He also issues a “lost or stolen items” report. Sadly the Caribbean is becoming more crime ridden than we ever remembered any other place we have sailed.  Never before have we felt so paranoid, having to literally lock everything up, all of the time. We did attend a seminar one Saturday hosted by Island Waterworld, one of the largest chandleries here, where they offered free snacks and drinks and great information for yachts.
Hmmm, makes one wonder...imagining the possibilities

We reunited with Krista and Phil  (IPY - Harmoniun Cays), running into them at Budget Marine over in the lagoon. Having years of previous experience here they were extremely helpful to us. We joined them and a few other “yachties” for St. Patrick’s Day at the yacht club but other than that we really didn’t participate much in the way of social activities. Harmonium Cays took off pretty quickly for the USVI’s on their way down to Bonaire.

Because much of this island is sadly still in a state of rebuilding there is an underbelly that gave us the creeps. The town is littered with half-completed construction and the lagoon waters are disgusting, still littered with sunken boats, debris and junk and yet full of yachts that prefer to come inside to the marinas, take a mooring ball or just anchor. We had to take about a 15-minute dinghy ride through there in order to access a lot of the services and shopping. It was so depressing to us each time we did that. I hope someday we are able to return when this pretty island is restored to its former dignity and splendor.
Showing some damage, inner harbor from our favorite bakery. Didn't have the heart to photograph the nearby devastation
Fortunately we had really good mobile cell service here and were able to video talk with our family back home. Each time we talked to our granddaughters, Audrey would ask when we were coming home! She wanted to come to Baba (Barbara) and Papa Frank’s house to play. It broke our hearts a little more with each video visit. We actually have been searching online for a home and have enlisted a realtor friend who has been video-chatting us through several homes for sale. Finally one day after hearing yet another Caribbean crime report, we had a heart-to-heart discussion about what we really want. We decided that after the 11 years of anticipation to finally make it to the Caribbean, we were done with it. We long to take Destiny home, enjoy her as a pleasure yacht instead of a workhorse used to get us from A to B. It seems all we have done lately is sail from paradise to paradise to work on the boat instead of enjoying more of these beautiful places. With her home, we can sail whenever we want and not leave for 6 months at a time, chasing the seasons. Yep! We are cancelling our marina in Aruba, canceling our flight home and sailing this big girl back to her home that she has never seen. We are extremely relieved and excited about our decision.

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