Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Taking Sunday Off

When Mark and I first started sailing and cruising, every day was alike. We actually got annoyed on weekends, because beaches we walked on, bays we anchored in and places we visited were more crowded than other days. We avoided weekends and hoped for the work week to start again, to get some peace. Since we created our own business two years ago and since I got serious about making some money writing, we established the “normal week” again, hoping to take it easy on Saturday and Sunday. Or, at least, take it easier, since there’s always a lot to do, organize and fix on a boat.

Simpson Bay Lagoon, here in St. Martin, is a safe haven for hundreds of boats. When anchored, you are well protected from wind and swell and most marine stores, happy hour bars and supermarkets are within dinghy reach. As a matter of fact, staying in “the lagoon” is so easy and convenient, that many people get stuck. They come for a week and stay for a month or longer. Add to this that you are “land locked” with two bridges (only opening three times a day) and one starts to see that leaving for the day or the week turns into somewhat of a hassle. Most visiting cruising boats come in and, when they finally leave, move on to the next island. Besides our (failed) plan to take weekends off, we decided to leave the lagoon every other week for Irie and our sakes. This plan is working so far, because we are determined to see some clean and clear water once in a while. Isn’t that why we are in the Caribbean?

Last weekend, the famous and grand Heineken Regatta was taking place in St. Maarten/St. Martin. When Sunday, the last day of the races, came around, Mark and I decided to invite a few friends to Irie for the day and take them race watching and vacationing. We left our homely and homey lagoon through the 8:15 French bridge and hung around Marigot Bay for over two hours. The hundreds of regatta boats were gathering and taking trial runs. Far and fast they didn’t go, because there was practically no wind. The Heineken Regatta is known for this particular phenomenon that is unexplainable. The little wind allowed us to turn the engines off (we didn’t need to get anywhere, let alone a starting line) and leisurely sail Irie back and forth while waiting for the start of the races, postponed by the committee over and over again. A squall was approaching.

Around 11 am, we assumed most of the monohulls and multihulls had taken off, since there was movement around the bay. The many (sometimes high performance) sails were quite the sight. Instead of following the boring race around the west side of the island, we turned east and slowly made our way to Friar’s Bay, escaping the rain. Our guests lounged around in the sun and enjoyed the ride. We all started to have this rare “vacation feeling” of “let’s go sailing and relax at anchor”. Which is exactly what we did after dropping the hook with a nice beach as a backdrop. All the lunch items appeared (our new German friend Axel brought heaps of pasta salad) and ice cold beers went around. This was our equivalent to the landlubber’s “day at the beach” or “road trip to see friends, family or an event”. It felt great to be “away from it all”, just for the day.

Later in the afternoon, we split up and picked the activity most attractive to each one of us. Axel stayed aboard Irie to take a nap (after dropping the rest of us off at the beach), Sabine relaxed in Friar’s Bay and Addie, Mark, the two dogs we were watching for our (other new) friend Patti and I walked the trail to beautiful and quiet Happy Bay. The swell had grown bigger by the time Axel picked us back up, so we waded waist deep out in the sea and carried Marai and Sula into the dinghy. After some more relaxing aboard Irie, we returned to the French bridge and in turn to our spot in the lagoon. By evening, we were settled again, for another two weeks! Even though we were tired of the day’s “events”, our Sunday turned into a long one, attending the regatta concerts and party until 1 am. We did leave early, because... Monday is a work day!

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