Our trip was off to a rocky start. We hadn’t done much sailing, got beat up on our first big leg to Anguilla and had to deal with a broken autopilot. And while it was hard to feel too down and out about the whole deal while sitting on a boat in paradise, we were a bit bummed with our current situation (first world problems, as they say). So, Sunday morning, we woke up on Sint Maarten feeling a bit sorry for ourselves and (I was) a little unmotivated to go meet up with this friend of a friend of my dad’s who lived locally. Around noon, we arrived at a bar called the Yacht Club that overlooked the Simpson Bay draw bridge and the lagoon where we were anchored, to meet Mark and a friend of his. We plopped ourselves down at the table not knowing what to expect, and before you know it we were drinking mimosas and bloody’s, having a great time with these two strangers, Mark and his friend Michael, a British guy who had moved to Sint Maarten 4 years ago and never looked back.
Long story short, or short story long, we had a few drinks before moving on to a bar called Chesterfields in Phillipsburg to meet up with a South African guy. Not sure why we had to meet up with him but we were just along for the ride at that point. The South African fellow was super interesting and quite fun to talk to, so we lingered over some Presidente’s and listened to his stories of sailing from South Africa to Sint Maarten. Then our trusty tour guides and new found friends, Mark and Michael, piled us back into the Nissan pick-up truck and drove us to Pat’s, a bar on a beach in Orient Bay (not the Nude part, don’t worry Mom!), for the BEST tuna steaks ever! I’m not ignoring the possibility that we were duped by the scenery, but it was a tasty tuna steak.
We ate, had a swim and bummed around for awhile listening to music on the beach before hopping back into Mark’s Nissan and getting a royal tour of the whole island, both the French and Dutch sides. Mark and Michael were amazing, they took us to all of their favorite places and really showed us the island in a way we would have never gotten to see as two tourists with a broken boat stuck in the lagoon. It was truly such a treat and we are so grateful to them!
We ended the day with a feast from Lal’s, an Indian restaurant on the lagoon. We snacked on samosas and curries while sipping Presidente’s and reminiscing about our awesome day and how lucky we were to be stuck in this place with these people. And to top off our Sunday fun-day, Mark and Michael were pals with the America’s cup racing team on Sint Maarten and booked us for a race the next day! No Sunday scaries here.
Monday morning, we woke up and raced the 1987 America’s cup winner, Stars and Stripes, around Phillipsburg. We won, thanks to our Captain, Morgan (that really was his name), and celebrated our victory with some beers and Mexican food.
Just as we thought our day couldn’t possibly get better, my rock star dad somehow got FedEx to overnight our autopilot to us so it would be here the next day! We couldn’t be happier. My dad and his new mechanic friend, Francis, worked late into the next night to get the autopilot installed and fully functional so we could set off for St. Barthelme’s in time to catch the super yacht Bucket Regatta.
St. Barth’s was so beautiful I didn’t want to leave! We anchored in a very crowded bay in Gustavia, watching 100+ foot sailboats practice for the St. Barth’s Bucket Regatta.
Taking a break from the boating world, we rented a scooter and explored the entire island from end to end, it was a bit treacherous navigating the winding roads through the mountains but so worth it. We got a hamburger at Le Select, rumored to be the spot where Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write the song Cheeseburger in Paradise. He didn’t show up, but the burger was pretty darn good.
After we returned our scooter, we went back to the boat and watched the sunset over the harbor. It looked like we were in Manhattan with all the anchor lights twinkling on the horizon.
We woke up early, picked up our anchor set off for St. Kitts. We had the best sail yet – making 8 knots all the way to the island! And we only broke the hydraulic back stay – hopefully its an easier fix than the autopilot! If I’ve learned one thing this trip, it is that eventually, everything will break, and no point getting upset about it, it’s all part of the cruising journey.
Here’s to a speedy recovery! In the meantime, we’ll be snorkeling on the southern end of St. Kitts.