Waking before daylight, here in Simpson Bay Lagoon, Dutch Sint Maarten, I notice immediately the boat’s movements, or lack of movement. For several days prior we had endured stronger trades, swinging back and forth (along with our neighbor vessels) to the rise and fall to liesurely breezes followed by powerful gusts, enough to make our strong rig whistle and creak under the strain. Today is a different day indeed.
If not for the typical squalls (on the lighter side today), I’d say it is very different. We slept relatively well, despite the lack of noise and movement. So, back to waking before daylight… I arise, walk through the salon and peek out through the narrow portlights. They’re not easy to see out of, as little curtains also hold back the hot sun when it’s highest. But enough window is exposed to allow a decent view of the cardinal directions – enough to see what I’m looking for- to ensure we (relative to our neighbors) are still where we expect. All is good, I think, as I push a button to check our battery level. Yup, it’s good enough to make solar coffee this morning, still over 90%. So, I skip the propane solenoid, turn on the inverter and fill the little 1.5 liter electric kettle. As expected, the sudden power draw inappropriately triggers an annoying battery-monitor alarm (designed to watch for shorts and spikes in power), and I scurry over to clear the buzzer so Kelly can keep snoozing. (I briefly ponder why I don’t change the setting to prevent the errant alarm next time. Hmmm. Maybe later.) While the water heats, I scoop a generous helping of Pete’s coffee into the Aeropress.
Three minutes later I have a spectacular cup of coffee. I shuffle around to the settee, park my butt and scan email on the iPad. Of course the coffee aroma is a tractor beam to Kelly who soon staggers out of the v-berth to where I begin preparation of another cup of Joe.
Eventually, we eat, while discussing what we’ll do today. Our talk isn’t contentious, but it is sometimes difficult to get to the next step… For both of us. We meander figuratively between doing boat projects (not leaving) and finding something to do in Sint Maarten.
We decide to visit Philipsburg, the Capitol of Dutch Sint Maarten, since its a lively Mecca for tourists and locals. However, we first take care of a practical matter… dinghy over to Island Water World to return some parts (leftovers from yesterday’s dinghy motor hoist project). Realizing I forgot the cable lock when we get there, I create a placebo by simply coiling the heavy cable in such a way that (to a potential thief) the tangles certainly look like it must be locked somehow. We won’t be here for long anyway.
Inside, Kelly returns the miscellaneous items, and asks Rene about how to find a public bus to Philipsburg. Seems that none of the typical tourist guides tell us this because we aren’t typical tourists. Typical tourists don’t ride the $2 bus around the island with all the other locals. We aren’t typical! Turns out it’s simpler for us to return back to the other side of the lagoon, and from there to find a bus directly to the heart of the city. So we climb into KoryKory, untangle the placebo cable, and push our little rubber boat back into the lagoon, back toward Fayaway, where we pick up the previously forgotten lock.
Lock now in hand, we motor back across Simpson Bay Lagoon – this time in a different direction, toward the Simpson Bay Yacht Club. We were just approaching the dock, adjacent to the draw bridge, in time for the ever-popular bridge-opening attraction. We’ve seen this before. But this time was different. It’s a different day, remember? More boats were leaving today due to the improving weather. It’s entertaining enough to listen to the bridge-tender politely cajoling each vessel’s captain over channel 12. But there’s more today.
Again, this day was special – we watched, along with dozens of others, the traversing of a megayacht, perilously scraping it’s fenders along both sides of the narrow bridge opening. This spectacle is popular because of recent closer-than-close mishaps: ships tearing off the bridge controls. It’s amazing to us how the boats keep growing but the bridges don’t! Here’s a video of one such mishap.
Anyway, we found the bus stop, asked a local to be sure we found the right bus, and off we went in the clattering diesel minivan of a bus.
First stop: Rum Shop. We need to seek out and taste the local specialty of guavaberry rum, raved about in some of the leward island journals. We enjoyed wandering through tourist Mecca as we searched for the little rum shop. I’m confused by many things in life, and this reminds me of one of now. Why are high-end jewelry and clothing stores so popular in these tropical islands? I can understand the beautiful white-sand beaches, but do people really come here to buy this stuff?? Strangiato. We’re looking for the unusual, places and people making this place special. Like… That Yoda Guy!
Next stop lunch. More local food!
After lunch of local food we easily flagged a bus to catch a $2 ride back to where KoryKory awaits by the bridge. Next on the agenda was to motor back across the lagoon to visit Lagoonies. Well, not Lagoonies specifically, but to their dinghy dock, so we can check for packages due to arrive from The States.
To visit the package office, we walk through Lagoonies. (Remember, everything, including bars, are outdoors around here). We stroll through the bar and give a warm hello to the staff as we zigzag around the tables. They’re used to folks passing through; not a concern. After receiving only news – of no packages that is, we traverse back through the bar. Hyacinth, the package lady, says we could try again before five, but no promises, so we decide to soak up some free Internet while sipping a delicious India Pale Ale, waiting for five o’clock.
It’s another typical day here. We’ll just need to keep being patient until Monday rolls around again. Remember, we’re on Island Time!
We hope you enjoyed reading about another day in our life. Every day is different, and we’re never bored. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Sint Maarten, and head south to Saba, where another road less traveled awaits! Enjoy your day!