March 2015 ~ St. Martin

Chronological Order

Day 1657 ~ March 30th, 2015

 

Day 1656 ~ Any Excuse for GelatoMarch 29th, 2015

Today a few kid boats were leaving so what better send-off would be a trip to Carousel Gelateria.  One thing led to another, one boat told another and we filled the place with our group and took just about every available chair.  What fun.

 

Day 1654 ~ TraditionsMarch 27th, 2015

The discovery of the old abandoned hotel was a great find in many ways.  It provided ample exploration for the kids and also the jump-start of our beach BBQ tradition.  Peter provides the hotdogs and everyone brings finger food to share.  When just the kids and Dad's, utensils and plates are not mandatory.  The kids built a table of beach trash and a fire pit to cook the dogs.  The rest is just played by ear and the kids come home exhausted, happy and smelling like smoke, already planning the 'next one'.

We've lost track as to how many so far, but the imminent departure of several kid boats was good enough reason for another bar-be-cue.  The boats gathered and this time some of the Mom's went along to see what all the fun was about.  Anne and I stayed behind and enjoyed a nice, quiet chat.

 

Day 1653 ~ Airports & Growing UpMarch 26th, 2015

The girls are growing up.  Nina, our oldest, has turned out to be a very responsible young woman and we want to nurture that, but within safe boundaries.  We have dear friends who lived in our basement apartment for four and a half years, were at the hospital for every birth and became like family to all of us. We've discussed the possibility of sending her to visit them and help out with kid care since their recent move to Rhode Island, but trying to find a non-stop flight has always been an issue.  This year, however, presented us with an opportunity.  Our former cruiser friends who lived in New York city recently moved to New Jersey.  Their daughter, Nina's good friend, is off next week for Spring Break and then they are going to New Hampshire to visit boarding schools.  Sending Nina to Philadelphia, an hour's drive from their new house, provided us a non-stop flight and their trip back from New Hamphire provides a means of getting Nina to Rhode Island.  She'll ride the Amtrak back to New Jersey and they'll get her back to the airport.  What a plan!

Having homeschooled all their lives and lived on a boat in close quarters for the past four years, our kids have never been very far.   Seeing Nina off on her own is a little strange; perhaps this will help prepare me for when she leaves home for good.  We arrived in plenty of time so sat down for some lunch at Subway while we waited.  We filled out the immigration card, did one last run through of what to do and where to go and then it was time to let her go through security, up the stairs and disappear into the 'ticket holders only' upstairs level.  It's hard, but I trust that she'll be fine.

Meanwhile back on the boat, her sisters made baking plans with their Dutch friends.  Marjolein plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America when she grows up so she and Nana used berry tarts as a practice run.  Senne hung around the kitchen and tried his best to be close to the goodies, er I mean 'helpful'.

 

Day 1651 ~ Heading BackMarch 24th, 2015

We had a nice break from the lagoon and, as all good things must come to an end, we must return to St. Martin in order to send Nina off on the airplane.  We had a nice, calm, downwind sail back and managed to arrive for the 5pm bridge with 10 minutes to spare.

 

Day 1649 ~ Sleepovers & Bucket RacesMarch 22nd, 2015

The girls, sprawled out on the tramp, were awake at the crack of dawn, Pippin amongst them.  Sleepy-eyed, they trooped into the cockpit to work on some crafts before making a pile of pancakes for breakfast.  By 10am, they were off and running.  Meeting the boys on Discovery, they readied John's inner tube for a time of tubing.  Marijn drove his dinghy.  Later they went swimming.

As the Bucket Race ends today, Peter wanted to see the start so he headed to town to watch.  The mere size of the boats are incredible and then you see the crew in relation to the boat and sail and they appear as little molded figurines.

 

Day 1648 ~ Air ShowMarch 21st, 2015

We heard there was an air show after the race today, so five boats' worth, plus John's guests (27 people in all), piled aboard Discovery and headed to town to watch it from the water. We weren't disappointed and everyone had a great time and enjoyed the front row seating.

 

Day 1647 ~ Change of SceneryMarch 20th, 2015

It's nice to get a change of scenery.  St. Barth's has an awesome beach and clear water.  With our kid boat friends nearby, life is good.  In the afternoon, while the kids played and swam, Peter and I headed to town in the afternoon to take care of Customs.  The boats were just coming in from their first day of racing.  We were told the minimum length for the race is 80 feet.

 

Day 1646 ~ Barth's and BucketsMarch 19th, 2015

Spent a leisurely morning getting ready to cross south to St. Barth's.  The Bucket Race is this weekend, so we expect to be among many at the island.  On the way, we passed some racers practicing, their huge sails making good speed in light wind.  We opted to hang out in Colombier bay on the north end as Gustavia is normally quite rolly and, during a special event like the Bucket Race, full.  All the moorings were occupied, but we managed to find a spot to anchor up closer to the beach.

 

Day 1645 ~ On The MoveMarch 18th, 2015

Well, we did it.  We finally extricated ourselves from the lagoon.  Granted, we only made it around the corner to Phillipsburg, but moving anywhere, once anchored in St. Martin, can be a major feat.  Motored the whole way as the path is generally straight into the wind.  Anchored with just enough time to make a quick run into town.  Nina is scheduled to fly to the East coast to visit friends just after we return from St. Barth's and her flip-flops aren't quite adequate for snowy conditions.  We managed to find a store still open so late in the day and they had some on sale in her size.  Mission accomplished.

 

Day 1644 ~ Preparing for DepartureMarch 17th, 2015

We are soon to make a move after two months and all the stars have aligned.  The Bucket Races are on in St. Barthelemy this weekend, several of our kid boat friends plan to go and we have a week before we need to be back for Nina's flight to New Jersey.  When opportunity knocks, we must answer.

 

 

Day 1642 ~ March 15th, 2015

 

Day 1641 ~ Sara's Turns 12!March 14th, 2015

Nika says she's waited all her life to turn twelve and today it finally happened.

Nika has also liked pancakes her whole life. When we asked what she wanted to do for her birthday, she told us a Swedish Pancake breakfast with her new friends. So, she set about first thing this morning to prepare her goody bags, color her birthday sign (with Nina's help) and blow up her balloons. This is one determined girl. Peter cooked the cakes and at 11am the kids started showing up.

After breakfast was hastily consumed, the gifts were opened then the kids played the Kingdom Game (not really sure what it is, but all the kids had fun) before going swimming. That night, after everyone had gone home, we ate peach pie for dinner and watched The Princess Bride for the third time.

A successful birthday day.

 

Day 1640 ~ Beach BBQMarch 13th, 2015

The first Dad/kid beach BBQ was a smashing success so we planned another one.  The kids' reconnaisance trip yesterday was a success, so today, they went a bit early to work on Effe, their sail refrigerator.  The goal today was to make a catamaran using both appliances and Eff Box Squared came into being.

Once the rest of the crew showed up, they grilled hot dogs and a couple of the dads brought steak for a bit heartier meal.  S'mores all around and the kids built their own fire pit.

The Moms stayed behind on our boat and had a peaceful visit.

 

Day 1639 ~ ReconnaissanceMarch 12th, 2015

The kids went over to hotel beach, as we've dubbed it, to prepare for tomorrow's bonfire.  The requirements: some sort of table out of the sand for food, some sort of chair and a pile of firewood.  While scouting, they came across a couple refrigerators that had washed up and a forgotten towel still hanging on a bush.  Combining the two and a few sticks, they made a boat.  Effe, used in conjunction with another verb, is a Dutch word that means faster or do something fast.  It's also the name of the Dutch family's homemade skiff with the 3HP engine.  Since their refrigerator under 'sail' was about as fast as the skiff, they named it Effe Box.

 

Day 1638 ~ Sewing ProjectsMarch 11th, 2015

Most of my sewing is mending things.  Due to limited space, I tend to keep a list of projects until it reaches a significant amount as to warrant pulling everything out.  Today was that day.  My first item was to finish our Alaska courtesy flag I started, but didn't finish, when the machine was last unearthed.  The rest was spent sewing up rips, tears and covering holes in clothing and the dinghy cover.

 

Day 1637 ~ Baking For Any OccasionMarch 10th, 2015

Peter tends to do things in spurts.  This week, with the new discovery of inexpensive pie crust, began his pie and tart spree.  On Sunday, in preparation for the next creation, I went with Discovery to Cost U Less in Phillipsburg and had mixed berries on the list.  We had a berry tart for dessert last night and polished off the berry pie for breakfast this morning.

 

Day 1635 ~ Heavenly ScentsMarch 8th, 2015

Peter's last day of racing is today.  Good thing, as my poor computer geek is whooped after sitting unmoving in St. Martin for two months.  They finished well, placing 8th today and 8th overall out of 14 lottery class boats.

A couple days ago, Peter discovered inexpensive pie crust at Simply Market on the French side.  They were on sale for 62 Euro cents each to boot so at least worth a try.  Nana loves to cook and found a kindred spirit among her new St. Martin friends.  Marjolein, from Holland and also 13, aspires to be a chef when she grows up.  Peter couldn't ask for more symbiosis so Marjolein was invited over for a baking day.  Nika joined in and the three set up shop.  Rolling pins flew, peach cans were opened and all was humming along nicely until tragedy struck.

They ran out of crust.

Now Peter, when completely spent after five full days of intense sailing, is not one to joyfully shift gears and jump up to roubleshoot your average household problem.  However, in this case, with the prospect of too small a portion, sprang (as much as one can spring when every muscle in the body aches) into action and hoped the little store at the gas station nearby would come to the rescue thereby saving a 1.3 mile trip to the grocery store.  In 15 minutes he returned with three more crusts in hand.  It didn't matter that they cost three times Simply's sale price, all that mattered was that a baking disaster of epic proportions was averted!

Whew, dodged that bullet.

 

Day 1634 ~ Day 2, Heineken RegattaMarch 7th, 2015

We went to the dock to pick up the captain and the Brazilian.  However, after a good 20 minutes, the captain was minus a crew member and not too happy.  Knowing Greg from Day Star had really wanted to sail but couldn't find an open spot, we called him on the VHF and gave him about 10 minutes to get ready.  I dropped Peter and Ninanuel at the boat and zipped off to retrieve Greg.  We arrived at the boat just as they were motoring out to the start line.  That was close.

Another lively day of racing in 25-30 knot winds, they tied for 10th place.  One did not finish.

 

Day 1633 ~ Race Day!March 6th, 2015

I dropped Peter off at the boat so they could make the 7:30am bridge.  After waiting for one crew member, who partied a little to hearty the night before, they barely made it.  I got a few groceries and made it back in time for the second bridge opening at 8:30a.  This one appeared to be the more popular choice and I sat for at least 20 minutes watching probably over 100 boats exit the lagoon, some two at a time, and they still weren't all done by the time I left for home.

The Altaïr crew placed fifth out of ten (2 disqualified, 2 did not finish).  Unlike last year when they experienced some equipment failure, nothing broke and they sailed well.

 

Day 1632 ~ Regatta PracticeMarch 5th, 2015

After sitting in St. Martin now for two and a half months, Peter has the itch to sail.  However, with the winds howling in the 25-30 knot range for the past two weeks and the same forecasted in the foreseeable future, there's no way he's going to go out with the family.  Regatta week in St. Maarten is again upon us so he emailed the captain of his boat last year to see if there might be a spot open.  The captain replied that he was, in fact, minus one crew member and Peter would be quite welcome for a second round.

The other crew members were new from last year.  They used Wednesday and Thursday for practice runs before the first race began on Friday.

 

Day 1631 ~ March 4th, 2015

 

Day 1628 ~ Cleaning...AgainMarch 1st, 2015

Another boat prospect coming, more buckets of soap and water. Go team!