Written by Mia
St Martin was not at all what we anticipated before we arrived. There are rumours flying that it is the best shopping in this part of the world because it is tax free, but we found they have just adjusted their prices and on the whole aren’t really much better value for money than anywhere else. But there is an extensive cruising community and everyone seems friendly and helpful. They have a cruising net on VHF channel 10 that is a wealth of information and a place to to buy and sell as well just catch up with people. Even if I don’t have an issue to solve, I love to listen just for the boat names and the personalities on the radio. But all of this reveals itself in time.
We arrived into Simpson Bay just before the last bridge opening for the day. It is a strange place with a lifting bridge into a Lagoon that has a Dutch side and a French side with a big, illuminated, multicoloured causeway bridge running down the middle. Sta Vast arrived about an hour earlier than we did and were ready to enter, plus they had important work to do on the boat and wanted to be close to the chandleries that are mostly located around the Lagoon. We decided to remain outside in the anchorage so we were flexible because we also were hoping to finally meet up with J-Squared, who made the crossing to Barbados in January. We met Jeff and Julie and Lucas in Marina Lanzarote and were fast friends, they were the ones who gave us our first real glimpse of the spirit of cruising community. They are incredibly generous with their time and love and we are so lucky to have them in our lives. Within 24 hours, Teo was pretty sure he helped Jeff fix his boat, we were invited to sundowners and we had lots of shared laughs. I love it when you meet people that GET your humour, no matter how bad it is!
Anyway, we found them on the French side in Marigot Bay and as a bonus got to check in there which turns out to be easier and cheeper, so YAY! It was a three-hour mission to make the journey to over there on foot, and it was all worth it to spend time in the company of these gems. Teo and Elise wasted no time and were building forts all over the boat. And when it was time to go, it took Jeff 10 minutes to drop us off in his rib. Teo hit the nail on the head when he said ”I tried to be serious but Jeff’s dinghy goes giggle speed!” We eventually moved over to anchor next to them. This encouraged Teo to work on his swimming because he just flung himself in the water to visit Jeff when his parents were just too slow in his opinion. And being in Marigot Bay is better swimming so we had the Sta Vast kids for a visit and Jon put out the spinnaker pole and the kids swung Tarzan style into the sea. Teo also had a go and swam all the way to the back of the boat on his own!
Otherwise, Sta Vast spent a few stressful days doing serious boat jobs and we spent as much time together as we could. We enjoyed an incredible meal onboard with them, including tuna sushi and perfectly prepared tuna steaks. How do they do it I ask myself? We always have these wonderful meals onboard Sta Vast with the kids table downstairs and the adults up on deck.
Our plan was to have a few days on a beautiful beach to bid our close friends, well more like chosen family, farewell. And despite all the boat jobs and complications, we made it! We sailed to Tintamarre, a beautiful little island just off the northwestern coast and as we approached we got a fabulous dolphin show! Turtles bid us welcome in the bay. We swam and had a BBQ on the beach in the evening and hung our Luci lights in the trees for lighting- thanks Mossa and Susie! The following day we got almost a full day on the beach as the kids skipped school and instead spent the day planting trees and swimming and laughing together. We didn’t get enough time together, but when you love someone a LOT when is there enough time?! As they sailed away it broke the three hearts of the Itchy Foot crew. We watched the lights through our tears until they disappeared over the horizon.
We anchored in the lovely bay of Grand Case and J-Squared swooped in to lift our spirits. We always have a wonderful time with them! Teo was paddling around in a kayak with the ever-patient Lucas, who even smiled when Teo nicknamed him “Lucci”. Also, Teo was trying to impress Lucci so he jumped off the front and that is quite a distance to the surface of the water! He even held my hand when I was a little too scared. We spent a morning doing a little snorkelling together and all of this is doing wonders for Teo’s swimming confidence! Jeff has this electric smile that you spot form miles away. He always helps us solve a boat problem or two and this time it was our gas locker and hull polishing. After we have worked hard we play at their place. J-Squared has a magic blender and BBQ and we are just spoiled to hang out there. These lovelies have incredible hearts and souls and we miss them until we see them next year! You guessed it, they too have left for the BVI’s…
The people we have met along the way are my favourite part of this adventure. The lovely family aboard Pier Ina invited Teo aboard to play and taxied us ashore when we were waiting for the glue on Nemo to dry. They too left for the BVIs and we hope to see them again later in the season further south. Also, we were treated to a couple of lovely dinners onboard Slow Motion who we met the first time way back in Cartagena. We were spoiled with French cooking and chilli and Teo loves Moody the cat and even made some toys for him. We also spent a great day in Simpson Bay doing a kids’ science workshop in the morning, lunch at a chicken stand for lunch and a trip to ice cream parlour called the Carousel with Laridae and B&G. We also got to visit with Anyway before they too headed further north. As we waved bye to them the morning that we left, it felt like closing the chapter on our Atlantic crossing.
St. Martin seems to be a place where you decide how far west you are prepared to go and we need to head south again, so this was our turning point. The good byes were painful and we were happy to get a fluke night of wind that enabled us to sail back to Antigua and lots of kids to celebrate Teo’s birthday.