03/07/2010, Columbier - favorite anchorage!
The plane touched the ground and came to a stop. My dad hopped into the dinghy and motored over to the airport. About 10 minutes later I saw a blue speck in the distance. I looked through my binoculars and saw them. It was my friends, Conner and Teagan!
My name is RJ Pimentel, and I'm 3 months into a 2-year sailing trip. I live on a 47-foot catamaran with my mom, Jane, my dad, Rodney, and my brother, Leo. Connor is my friend from Alameda, where our house is. Teagan is his younger sister, Steve is their dad and Clare is their mom.
My family and I started our trip in St. Lucia, a small island in the Caribbean, then went up to Martinique, then to Dominica, then to the Saintes, then to St. John, then to St. Thomas, then to Virgin Gorda, then to St. Marten, then to St. Barts, and back to Simpson Bay, St. Marten. That's where the plane touched the ground.
I was incredibly happy when Connor finally stepped onto the boat. It was 6:30 at night so we didn't have much time to talk before bed. The next day we left St. Marten and sailed to St. Barts were we spent much time jumping off the boat and playing on the beach. We didn't have all day, though, because we spent 2 or 3 hours getting there. Once it was 5:00, we had screen time, ate dinner, and then went to bed at 9:00. The next day we got up early so we could finish school and have more time to play. After school, we went on a small hike to another beach called Flamands. The waves were huge, sometimes getting as high as 7 feet. We body boarded for about a half hour, and then we hiked back. The next day we went around to a diving spot. I had gotten certified about 3 weeks before, and I was ready to dive again. We went to a rock and hopped in. It was pretty fun, and we saw some cool things like lobster and barracudas. We got out and finished the day with a movie. On the 4th day, we went back to Flamands, except this time we went for 3 hours. It was INSANE. I almost didn't make it back I was so tired. We then had dinner and went to bed. Days passed in similar patterns, until one day we came back to Simpson Bay to drop them off at the airport.
The plane turned around on the runway. It started to pick up speed, until it lifted itself off the ground and started to fly. "There they go", I said, and the plane disappeared into the horizon.
Connor and Teagan from Alameda CA came to visit us on our boat. We sailed with them to St. Maarten and to St. Barts. In St. Barts we went on a hike and discovered cacti, a tortoise, lizards, hermit crabs and lava rocks. After the hike, we arrived at Flamands beach. The beach had some of the biggest waves I have ever bodysurfed. During the exciting week we jumped off the boat many times. Snorkeling was one of our favorite things to do . When we were snorkeling we saw a black spotted eel and Connor saw a barracuda. I'm glad they came to the Caribbean to visit us.
And - new photos in the gallery....
We left St. Maarten and headed to St. Barts. The wind was against us, so we pulled into Philipsburg, capital of St. Maarten. OMG. Five super humungo cruise ships on the docks. Masses of people and shops and beach chairs,etc. The water taxis shuttling the cruise ship guests to shore motored by our boat every 5 minutes, creating rocking waves. We made the best of the location and got off the boat and rented beach chairs for the day. The kids played on the water jungle gym and we people watched and strolled around. I was happy when the wind subsided and we could leave after a couple of nights.
Now we are finally in St. Barts. We have heard about the island and wanted to see for ourselves what all the fuss is about! To get to St. Barts you have to arrive on your own boat or take a ferry or fly into an exclusive little airport. It is a French island and it is quaint, hilly and basically gorgeous. As typical for the caribbean islands - St. Barts was fought over by the British, French and Spanish. In the 1700s the French made a deal w/ the Swedes in exchange for a port rights in Sweden. The French bought it back from the Swedes in the 1800s and it remains part of France today, thought like St. Martin it is a free port. We ran into Richard - Latitude 38 publisher- who hangs out here quite a bit - he says that these days the locals that live here are more fond of the American visitors than the French.
We are currently moored in Anse de Colombier. This is one of the all around best anchorages on our trip. One can only get here by hiking or boat. The bay is a marine reserve and every day we have snorkeled from the boat with turtles and rays. There is an awesome beach you can swim or kayak to from the boat. And bonus, there are hiking trails - some that lead to the windward side - which means beaches w/ big waves that the kids love. The main town of Gustavia is close by - about 15 minutes by boat. The town has all of the designer stores that are fun to window shop. St. Barts is also home to the resturant Le Select, claim to fame in Jimmy Buffet's cheeseburger in paradise song (we ate here and would recommend just stopping by for a beverage instead.) Everything is definitely expensive, but we can always get a loaf of french bread for $1 euro! While here, we hung out with a great family with 3 boys who were chartering a boat for a week. The boys played capture the flag for three days....crazy. Now, more excitement ahead as the Waterloos arrive from Alameda tomorrow!
We're enjoying our time in St. Maarten. The cruising camaraderie here is a pleasant surprise. There are lot of boating families and almost everyday there has been some sort of kid gathering. Tonight it is a bbq and bonfire on the beach. The downside of being anchored in the lagoon is we that can't jump off the boat and swim. Leo says he feels sorry for the fish that have to live in this water. Fortunately, in just a few minutes we dinghy over to a beautiful beach and cool off.
The big news is that RJ is now a certified PADI scuba diver! He went to scuba school this week and graduated as a "natural." He is relentless in his quest for us to take him diving.
In a few days we'll be off to St. Barts where we'll meet up w/ the Waterloos!
Happy Valentine's Day!
We made it to St. Maarten - yeah. We waited until it was only blowing 5-10 knots, but is was still upwind w/ lumpy seas - but it could have been much worse! Every time you leave and enter a country you have to check in and out w/ customs and immigration. Depending on where the office is located, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1/2 day. When you enter a country on a boat, you need to fly the yellow flag, and after the captain checks in w/ his crew list you fly the flag of the country - i.e. courtesy flag. This is will be the 7th new flag we've flown. Here in St. Maarten, we had to choose b/w the Dutch and French side. The small island is divided into two countries. St. Martin was named by Columbus in 1493. In the early 17th Century, the French and Dutch arrived, built small settlements and eventually drove the Spanish off the island. Divided between two countries for 350 years now, St. Martin/St. Maarten is harmoniously shared by the French and the Dutch. The Dutch side has most of the sailing stores, etc. so that is where we are. This place is mega-yacht central! We are anchored in this large lagoon that we had to enter via a draw bridge (like Alameda!) We're not sure how some of these super huge boats got through the bridge! We are currently at a McDonalds - the first we've seen on our trip so far - which is not a problem for us. Leo was excited about the play place - and we're really just here for the wifi and had some shakes while we're here. No Starbucks yet.
Starting My Day on the Boat
When I wake up I read. Then I wait until Daddy pulls me out of bed. After that I brush my teeth. Next, I eat breakfast. I put out the US flag. Finally, we start school.
A cramped hermit crab
Strives to climb a humble hill
Only to fall back down