23 April 2008

Swedish St. Martin

April 23, 2008

So the general knowledge is that St. Martin/St. Maarten is a friendly island in the northeast Caribbean that is French on the north side and Dutch on the south side. Watch out. It is about to find itself in the throes of a Swedish invasion. Every time you turn around on this small island, you can hear someone speaking Swedish (or, "the hurly gurly" as a more fun way to refer to that northern language). It’s gotten so pervasive, that Kristen has started taking intensive Swedish lessons, convinced in her paranoia that all the laughter among the Swedes is directed at her. Not only do we have to deal with Patrick Patrick David Sophie and Hans, but there are new Swedish boats in the lagoon every day. Watch out St. Barth’s they’re scheming up a new invasion to restore the island back to its Scandinavian glory.

Once you’re able to smile and embrace the Swedish, life moves on nicely here. Our transmission is back on Whisper and attached to the engine; the dinghy is getting a new and improved patch on its hole in the air floor; the tiller is being varnished; bags are being sewn for tools; Kristen is writing more articles; etc. etc. We should be on our way south in the next few days or so. If we can tear ourselves away from the hurly gurly.

Kristen, Wendy and the Swedes packed into the back of Lindsey and Margie's van on the way to the races. Port de Plaisance Marina hosted car and 4-wheeler races this past sunday. We showed up for the entertainment and weren't disappointed. The highlight of the afternoon was the smoke shows!

David, Lindsey and Patrick making serious decisions about beer.

A neat yellow mini on display.

Watching the races.

Martin playing on the beach at sunset.

16 April 2008

31 = 2 parties for the birthday boy!

April 16, 2008

Hans is now a certified member of the 30-something crowd after celebrating his 31st birthday yesterday. He is indeed older, but the wiser component of age is still up for debate!

On Monday we had a fantastic duck dinner on Phoenix III. Gilles has been promising everyone a duck meal and it was well worth the wait and exceeded all expectations. Duck three ways with egg noodles in a cream/garlic/basil sauce; olives; salad; camembert (le rustique!); and, of course, birthday cake! It's always fun to hang out with good friends, lucky Hans got to have a fun birthday party. Thanks Jim & Wendy for the pictures.

Jim and Ivan cozy up during dinner.

Telling jokes: Carmelle, Manon and Hans.

Carmelle, Kristen and Manon before dinner.

Wendy, Kristen and Marie France.

Aaaagggh! The flames get higher every year! Thanks for the yummy cake Carmelle.

Hans laboriously removes all the candles from his cake.

The two cooks in the galley.

Kristen, Marie France and Gilles relaxing after the feast.

Last night the boatyard threw a joint birthday bash for three friends striving for membership as senior citizens - it was a non-stop party: lots of beer, wine, and food. Wow! What a spread of all types of food. The Swedes outnumbered the other nationalities and Kristen was one of only a few Americans. We have no pictures from that fiesta - perhaps a good thing!

08 April 2008

Sailing, baguettes, camembert and liver pate: a great vacation in St. Martin

April 8, 2008

Kristen’s parents are on the plane back to chilly Vermont after spending 10 days aboard Whisper in St. Martin. We all had a fun time exploring the island, eating good food and sampling the various nude beaches. As was evidenced by a previous picture, Rod really got into the spirit!

The Millers at sea!

Fed up with waiting for the winds and seas to abate, the other day we sailed around the lagoon for an hour or so, until Rod was so scared he threatened to jump overboard! We quickly anchored and poured some rum cocktails to soothe frayed nerves.

The three main reasons to love St. Martin: cheese, wine and bread.

We spent a couple days walking around Philipsburg, including a excellent lunch at an Indian restaurant and we spent more time on different beaches catching the sun. Yesterday, the winds finally blew a little less than 20 knots and the seas were 6 feet instead of 9-11, so we weighed anchor and sailed the eight miles to Tintamerre, an island off the east coast of St. Martin. The sail was fast and fun, and wet when Helen was steering and buried the cockpit winch in the ocean! Hey, we’re not racing! The beach was pristine and Rod found plenty of private places to frolic.

Rod and Hans outside the airport.

Rod checks out Tintamerre Island.

Happy Beach... very nice.

Rod keeps a lookout.

Kristen laughing.... at Rod probably.

Helen and Rod at the top of the "Witches Tit" hill, overlooking the lagoon.

The St. Martin lagoon, looking towards the French side.

Last night Jim came over for dinner and brought a very tasty pork and spinach curry. It was an early night since everyone was tired after the day’s sail and this morning we woke up refreshed and ready for a plane journey.

Jim and Rod chumming it up.

It’s always sad to say goodbye, but we all really enjoyed the 12-day visit and Helen and Rod are planning their next trip aboard Whisper.

04 April 2008

Parents on board!

April 4, 2008

Kristen’s parents, Rod & Helen, are visiting us here in St. Martin. We’ve been having a great time exploring the island together and showing them boat life. They’re inspired to join the ranks of cruisers and buy a boat and hit the high seas! Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to leave the protected lagoon since it has been blowing about 25 knots every day with 10 foot seas. Not exactly a gentle introduction to sailing. We’re hoping for better weather in the next few days so we can at least go for a day sail before they leave on Tuesday. Meanwhile, we’ve been going to beaches via the bus system, hiking in the interior of the island, walking around Marigot and spending time with friends on Merengue, Phoenix III, Taima and La Bete.

Rod and Hans were a little bit worse for the wear the morning after a one night "mancation" ashore where copious amounts of rum was consumed away from the prying eyes of Kristen and Helen...

Rod and Helen enjoy fresh, warm croissants in Marigot.

The old fort overlooking Marigot Bay.

Dinner on board is served. This night a spanish tortilla. Yum!

Last night was Gil’s 50th birthday so we had a proper raucous bash on La Bete complete with lasagna, antipasti, wine, champagne, cake and amazing cheese.

Yvonne, Gil, and Manon fight over the yummy cheese.

Marie France and birthday boy Gil.

Kit Kat has not been enjoying life as much as we have. Her cyst that developed in the Virgin Islands came back so the vet here decided the best course of action was a mastectomy. The procedure was done yesterday morning and today she is still heavily sedated, groggy, dizzy and generally pooped out.

In boat-related news: we found a Beta dealer and mechanic here in St. Martin who will fix our leaky transmission. He’ll get started next week after Kristen’s parents leave. Finally, we can stop adding transmission fluid every 20 hours. He is a new Vega owner: he just bought Voila! from our friends Alan & Felicity. It’s a small Vega world!

Hiking around the interior of the island.

Helen holds up a tamarind bean pod which we found growing on a tree during the hike. There is a really tart and sweet pulp inside of the pod which was delicious.