Simpson Bay Lagoon in St. Martin feels to us a little bit like being home (as far as that’s possible thousands of miles away from our respective home countries), since this is the third time in as many years we have dropped our anchor in the familiar weedy bottom. Over the last two years, we have spent a total of nine months in the protected waters of this massive lagoon and coming up are another three or four. Not much has changed. There is a new road around the airport extension, our friend and net controller Mike opened his new business “Shrimpy’s Laundry” and the Wednesday Cruiser’s Meeting is moving from Turtle Pier to the friendly and conveniently located Barnacles.
Other than these changes, the distances in the lagoon are still huge with a variable degree of wetness depending on the amount of wind and a considerable usage of fuel based on the destination, prices have been stagnant (bus to Philipsburg: $2, beer during Happy Hour: $1), the bridge openings are still the same and most of the locally known “boat residents” are still here. Unfortunately, one thing that doesn’t stay the same - in contrary to our “old homes” - is our circle of friends…
Life on a boat means “change of plans”, “new horizons” and “other challenges”. While it always feels good to see old friends again, that feeling gets intensified when you haven’t seen them for a while or when you have anticipated the reunion for months. But, as big as that feeling of joy is, the moment you hug “hello”, easily as big is the feeling of sadness when you say “goodbye” once again, maybe even for the last time. “When will we see him or her or them again?” is a recurring thought that crosses our minds when the vessel’s name is called during the departures section of the Cruiser’s Net in the morning.
While we hoped to see Nic and Michele from SY Irony again on our way north, they were on opposite corners when we were in Antigua and then picked up speed, arriving in the British Virgin Islands when we reached St. Martin. It was wonderful to see our friends Tom and Karmen from SV Ellida again, after never catching up with each other over the last year. They made new plans and are on their way to the United States at the moment.
Last but not least, we had to say goodbye - hopefully not forever- to our good friend Dave of SV Tatia. Over a span of three years, we united and separated in multiple harbors, to hang-out for the season together here in St. Martin. As a single hander, he got a bit bored with things (how could he not have enough boat projects to do to fill his days?) and accepted a job as IT engineer on Le Grand Bleu, one of the largest privately owned yachts in the world. His cruising life is on hold now and we saw one of our best friends go.
While our current circle of friends is getting smaller these days, there is room for positions to fill up. New friends will be made and the wonderful thing about St. Martin is that many paths cross here, in the middle of the Eastern Caribbean. When one befriended cruising couple leaves, another one is bound to arrive. Very soon!