13 February 2009 | Simpson Bay, St Maarten
Here in Simpson Bay there is every service a boat owner could want. There is the flagship Budget Marine, which is the best equipped chandlery that I have ever seen. If someone needs hydraulic work done there is a large shop on the waterfront. There is a refrigeration specialist with a shop on the docks. We can take the dinghy up to a laundromat. Every bar and restaurant has a dinghy dock as well as a parking lot. Places that have special menus often offer free boat taxi service to the door. We can even get water, baguettes, and croissants delivered to our boat at anchor.
In Chicago there are 3000 boats and there are all the services that attend to them. Whenever I have need something special in Chicago I have had to call all around, and drive all over the city and then only maybe can I get what I need done. Usually if it is something special I will need to do a lot of explaining. It is much easier here.
The difference is the maritime culture. We are on an island and there is a great focus on the waterfront and the service of boats. Though Chicago has a large marine population there is not the concentration or variety of services available. It is a pity I suppose but I will not wring my hands over it. Chicago was the world's busiest seaport for a time and that was important for its development. Now there is a large city with a lot going on and it is not focused on the waterfront. The lake and the boats on it are a jewel, but not the center.
I like this attention to the marine world, but there is much more going on in a big town. Still I will miss being able to pop over to my favorite bar for a beer by dingy.