02/13/2009, 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.
02/13/2009, Simpson Bay, St Maarten
It seems that we should make the movie "Escape from St. Martin". Though it is lovely here it seems that we can never leave.
Alice and her girlfriend Kelseigh (yes that is the correct spelling) were here for 5 days and we all had a Caribbena vacation. We went to the beach on at the main town of Phillipsburg, then we sailed to the tiny island of Islet Pinel. There is a perfect beach and a few places to cool off with a drink. 2 days on a beach should warm them up from a Chicago winter.
We are now getting ready to make sail again to leave here. I cleaned the bottom of the boat with some borrowed dive gear. It seems that I twisted my neck badly while doing so. I saw a doctor this morning and was diagnosed with a pinched nerve. I have done absoultey nothing else today as I have been taking it very easy. Hopefully I will be up and about tomorrow or the next day and be able to complete preperations for our next hop. We also have to carefully examine the weather window as there has been some odd wind directions for the last few days.
Getting the boat ready involves:
Getting water and fuel. (we only need gasoline for the outboard and the generator) Finally rigging for downwind. Making some food to eat on passage. Checking over the fishing gear. Stowing the boat after a month on no motion.
This short list could easily occupy several days, though we could compress it into a day if need really be. We (especially I, Billy) have liked it here. We can get anything we need done on the Dutch side, and the food is excellent on the French side. We are both Francophiles and regret leaving the French Islands.
01/20/2009, Simpson Bay, St Maarten
We didn't go far, but we went. We left the Simpson Bay Lagoon and went around St Martin to Illet Pinel. There is a charming beach and it is a natural reserve. The snorkeling is not great, but the island is windswept, clean, and pretty. Alice is with us for 5 days and she has a very nice friend, Kelseigh, with her. 6 people is a bit of a crowd for our boat, but we are making it work nicely. Fun!