Ok, it’s been a hot minute since we posted about our sailing adventures, and we’ve covered a lot of ocean since our last post! Time to catch up.
We last left you in Sint Maarten, where we hung out for much of the spring. During this time, we hosted some more friends, did some work on Gratitude, visited some parts of SXM we’d never really explored before, made a couple of trips home, and prepared Gratitude for a long passage out of the hurricane belt, to the Dutch island of Bonaire.
Our friends Boozer and Julianne McClure came to visit us in May. They had never vacationed on a sailboat before, so we were all eager to see how they liked it. I think the verdict was a resounding YES! (Okay, except for just a touch of seasickness, which was no surprise, given the bumpy seas, and easily corrected the next day – that happens to more people than you might think.) While the McClures were with us, we sailed to Saba, St. Bart’s, and back to St. Martin. Here are a few highlights of our trip, starting with Saba.
Hiking was also on the menu in St. Bart’s. I have always thought of this island as more about the restaurants and the luxury stores, but it has plenty of beautiful hiking and snorkeling too!
The sail back to Sint Maarten from St. Bart’s is only 12 miles, but it was rushed at the end as we had to arrive in time for the last bridge opening. We arrived with only minutes to spare, but we still managed to make our dinner reservation across the island in Grand Case, at La Villa. It was OOOH-LA-LA.
WORKING ON GRATITUDE
After all that fun, we had to get back to work. Such is sailing! In April, we’d had Gratitude hauled out for an insurance survey in Puerto Rico. In May, we followed up with another haul out in SXM, to address a few issues the surveyor found. We also decided, since we were out of the water anyway, to have the bottom repainted. Haul outs are always nerve-wracking, and this one was no exception. However, it did give us a chance to check out a couple of the hotels that St. Martin is famous for.
For the first week we stayed in Grand Case, which we discovered when Boozer and Julianne took us to dinner. Grand Case is on the French side of St. Martin, and it is well known for its restaurants and beaches. We stayed at the Grand Case Beach Club, a lovely little boutique hotel with LOTS of stairs. Including in our room! We got our workout in every day, I guess. But it was a nice “vacation” from boat life.
In the second week of the haul-out, we wanted to be closer to the Bobby’s Megayard, where Gratitude was still on the hard. So we decamped to the Flamingo Beach Resort, in Simpson Bay. This was more of a condo-style hotel, with a kitchen and living area, on a wide beach and close to familiar restaurants and stores. The pool here was delightful; we would stay here again.
CELEBRATING WITH FAMILY
Late in the month, I flew home ahead of Andy, as we had some big events to prepare for at home. The first of these was our son Kyle’s wedding to Rachael. You may recall that back in 2020 these two adjusted their wedding plans a la Covid, legalizing their union at the county courthouse. But in June of 2020 they were finally able to hold their official ceremony, and what a weekend it was! Between the rehearsal dinner, bonfire with old friends, wedding and reception, and family brunch the next day, Kyle and Rachael were properly celebrated. It was the best wedding I’ve ever been to!
A few days later, I took our other kids to Bonnaroo, a music festival in Tennessee. We rented an RV and drove it 4 hours to camp in a big field. There was a time when I would have been intimidated to drive a 40-foot-long motor home, but I think boat life has made me bolder. And having a real bed in an air-conditioned vehicle made the trek worth it. I have decided I am too old to sleep on the ground anymore.
PREPARING FOR HURRICANE SEASON
All that boat work in St. Martin was done with a big goal in mind: to get us ready for a long passage to Bonaire! This Dutch island, in the southern Caribbean, is out of the hurricane belt but much farther west than Granada. It’s just north of Venezuela, near Aruba and Curacao. We’d heard it had really good scuba diving, so we decided that this might be the year to check that out for ourselves.
So we gathered a crew of family members! Our daughter Anne, nephew Jonathan, and niece Abbey agreed to join us for the three-to-four day passage south. We’ll tell you that story in our next post, but here’s a little preview: Bonaire is AMAZING! The diving is EXCEPTIONAL. We can’t wait to share more with you!