Monday, April 14, 2014

Sint Maarten...Our *Unexpected* Stay in Simpson Bay Marina

One thing we have learned about cruising is to expect the unexpected.  While I was home in the States visiting my Mama, LA stayed in Sint Maarten to babysit LuLu and work on boat projects.  

One project was to add another solar panel to Genesis.  Our refrigerator is an absolute energy hog, and we wanted to increase our solar panels from 440 watts to 660 watts. With the help of new friends John and Frances aboard Kia Ora, LA installed the additional solar panel. 
Our watermaker was on the blink, so we were having two pieces of equipment rebuilt by a local company.  Therefore, we could not make water, which finally leads me to the point of this story....  LA had to go to a nearby fuel dock, purchase water in 6.5 gallon jerry jugs, and haul the water back to the boat.  Three days before I was scheduled to fly home, he was lifting a 55 pound jug of water onto the boat from the dinghy and a boat came by and threw a huge wake. It rocked LA right in the middle of his lift and wrenched his back.  It was a bad injury.  He ended up flat on his back. He called me in the States and said he needed medical attention.  I contacted our local hometown physician and returned to Sint Maarten armed with muscle relaxers, pain medication, and a heating pad. 

LA could not get out of the bed. I needed to get back to Genesis once I arrived at the airport on St. Martin. Our friends had all left the island, heading to Antigua.  I got on the internet and found the business of the local Cruiser's VHF radio net controller, Mike "Shrimpy" Glanz. I explained my situation and he put out a call on the VHF and found a couple (David and Libby aboard s/v Peregrine) to pick me up at a nearby dock upon my arrival from the airport. The cruising community is wonderful!  Where else can you be in a foreign land and just pick up the phone or radio and get someone to agree to pick you up in a boat at 10:30 at night and transport you to your boat?? Imagine doing something like that back in the States. Forget it!

When I arrived at the boat, LA was in tremendous pain and could not stand up.  I immediately started his medications.  The following morning, I got on the radio and asked for help.  I found out that there was a physical therapist that came highly recommended.  One of the cruisers went to shore and brought her to the boat. (Yet another act of kindness from the cruising community!) She examined LA and felt it best to get him to the hospital for an X-ray and treatment.  He was in too much pain to transport him by dinghy, so I set about getting Genesis moved to a nearby marina, Simpson Bay Marina.  

I had to catch the opening of the Causeway bridge and travel a short distance to the marina. I knew I could get Genesis through the Causeway bridge and to the dock, but getting her in the slip without hitting another boat was going to be another another matter. Once again, the local cruiser's radio net controller, Mike, came to the rescue.  He lined up three men to come to the boat and help me get the Genesis safely to the dock. 

It was an international event... 

Bob from the UK was at the helm. He was excited about being aboard a Shannon.  He had heard about them and wanted to experience how she handled underway. 

Also assisting was Girard from France, an experienced boat captain...

and Mike, an experienced single-hander from the United States...

Girard and Mike planned the strategy to safely get Genesis into the slip upon our arrival to the marina. 

Girard got in his dinghy so that he could "fend off" Genesis if she got too close to the concrete finger pier on the dock.  Poor LA, all he could do was lie in his bed and wonder how things were going topsides as his beloved Genesis was under the control of unknown captains.  I gave Bob instructions as to how fast to approach the dock and when to put the boat in reverse as I pushed our boat away from the boat in the next slip. It was a successful maneuver and we made it in without a scratch to Genesis or the nearby boat. Whew! I was grateful to these guys for the help!

Here's OUR girl Genesis safely in her slip at IGY Simpson Bay Marina...
Immediately upon arrival to the slip, I checked in at the marina office, rented a car, and with the help of the marina dock master, loaded LA into a golf cart, transported him down the dock and into the rental car.  He was in terrible pain.  We arrived at the hospital emergency room and we were able to experience firsthand health care in the Caribbean. We were immediately seen by the ER physician, LA was given a shot of morphine and a non-steroidal for the pain,  then was taken to Radiology for X-rays of his back.  The diagnosis... a compression between two vertebrae, prescriptions for more muscle relaxers and a recommendation that we return to the States to see a neurologist.

There was no way LA was in any condition to fly home.  Terese Thomas, an osteopathic physical therapist from Australia, came highly recommended and we wanted to try physical therapy first.  We returned to the boat and I put LA to bed and heavily medicated him.  I contacted Terese and she returned to the boat that afternoon. After examining his X-rays, she felt that she could help LA with his injury. She began treatment and, after a week, he was feeling better and in less pain.  He was bedridden for 3 weeks allowing his back to heal. Twice a week for six weeks, Terese treated LA. He was able to get out and start walking again. He is now back in tip-top shape due to Terese.  We are so grateful to her!

During LA's recovery, we stayed on the dock at Simpson Bay Marina.  Riding around in a dinghy to get to shore for PT treatment was not going to be good for LA's back.  

So, what did we do while we were at the dock?  At first, not too much.  LA could not get off the boat for the first 3 weeks, so I kept myself occupied with my photography and did a lot of walking.  I tried to keep LA comfortable and pain-free, and tried to keep him from going stir crazy.  Eventually, he was able to get out and get off the boat.  He couldn't even walk down the dock at first.  

After a month passed, I rented a car and had the dock hands get him to the car in the golf cart.  We drove around the island.  It was good for his psyche (and mine!)  just to get off the boat for the day.  

LA was able to get out of the car for brief periods and enjoy the sights! This photo was taken at Coralita Beach, on the east side of the island.

We stopped at a beach-side restaurant near Orient Bay and had appetizers and drinks. LA was able to creep to a table and enjoy being in the sunshine.

It felt good to return to the land of the living and do something normal and fun for a change!  Ahhh... my first pina colada in a month! Fabulous!

We stayed at Simpson Bay Marina over two months. Located on the Dutch side of the island, it was in a great location. If we had to be stranded somewhere, this was a good place to be. It was close to the grocery store, close to several marine businesses, and had great places to hike located only a short distance away.

We found some MikroKopter Drone Footage on YouTube that used a GoPro3 camera to film aerial footage of  Simpson Bay Marina by Rick Moore. Our girl Genesis comes into view on time mark 1:04 through 1:11. She's the boat next to 2 empty slips. You can see our 3 navy-blue solar panels and our green canvas. Great video of the marina that's been our home for the last 2 months in Sint Maarten. Click the yellow highlighted text below to view the video:
Simpson Bay Marina Aerial Footage

Simpson Bay Marina has 24-hour security, which was nice because no one from the public was allowed on the dock. It afforded us privacy and the docks were very quiet.

There is a public dinghy dock located next to the marina office.

The ladies who worked in the office, Jessica and Sharika, were always happy to see us and helpful.  We dropped our laundry off at the office and it was sent out and returned to us the following day.  When we needed a rental car, they contacted the company and set it up for us.  

We already knew Johanna from the fuel dock.  This is where we obtained fuel, water, and ice when we were at anchor.  She and LA were big buddies and she gave us service with a smile.

While we were staying at the marina, we indulged our favorite past-time.... looking at yachts, yachts, and more yachts!

Simpson Bay lagoon, the largest saltwater lagoon in the Caribbean, is also home port to the largest mega yacht fleet in the Caribbean.  During the high season December to April, there are multi-million dollar floating palaces everywhere.  Sint Maarten is the playground for the rich (and not-so-rich) in the winter season.  

We had seen mega yachts when we stayed in the Bahamas at Emerald Bay Marina, but Sint Maarten was a whole new ballgame.  There were SO many mega yachts that it became routine to ride along and see yacht after yacht after yacht. We watched them come and go, squeezing through the bridge heading to the next destination. Sometimes for fun, I would look up the yachts on the internet and find out about them. If you like boats, read on.  Or, you can just look at the photos.

Mega Yacht Annaeva is a 184-foot motor yacht custom built in 2007 by Benetti.  The yacht has a steel hull with a aluminium superstructure with a beam of 34 feet and a 10'5"ft draft. Annaeva has a cruising speed of 12 knots, and a range of 5000 nautical miles.  She is owned by Russian Roustam Tariko, owner of Russian Standard Vodka and Russian Standard Bank. Most of these yachts cost about $300,000 a foot to build. Yep, that's about $55 million.... Nice digs if you can get them!
What we hadn't seen in the Bahamas were mega sailing yachts.  Sint Maarten is also the winter playground for these beautiful luxury yachts.  We met some of the crew for these gorgeous sailing yachts.  In most cases, there would be a core crew on board (anywhere from 4 to 12, according to the size of the yacht). Most of these yachts headed to the Mediterranean after the high season. Additional crew would be flown in when it was time to move the boat.  

The most beautiful of the sailing yachts we saw was the 90-foot mahogany hull 'Tempus Fugit'

Built by Arkin Pruva Yachts in Antalya, Turkey, Tempus Fugit (Latin for "time flies")  is a majestic J-Class inspired classic sloop. Launched in 2013, she is not only beautiful, but is also a strong racer, holding her own against carbon sailing yachts and having proved her racing prowess by finishing a respectable third in her class during the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous.

Tempus Fugit is undeniably striking, with low deckhouses and long overhangs that recall a bygone era. She can comfortably sleep up to 6 guests and a crew of 2-3 professionals. Built in cold moulded wood/epoxy supported by 38 laminated timber frames, her unpainted, varnished mahogany hull is beyond eye catching. We spent a lot of time on the dock admiring the beautiful details of this yacht. She is truly a work of art and is built to stand the test of time.

'La Cattiva' is a 122.7-foot aluminum hull ketch, launched by Pendennis Shipyard in the United Kingdom in 1991 as 'Taramber'.  She was renamed in 2009. La Cattiva has a beam of 26'10"ft and a 11'5"ft draft. Designed to be handled by a small crew, La Cattiva has an owner’s double cabin and three additional twin-bedded guest cabins. She has a cruising speed of 12 knots and a fuel range of 3000 miles.

The main saloon and wheel house has a spectacular continuous 315 degree view through tinted glass, with an open plan design leading down to the main saloon and dining room. There are three regular crew members for La Cattiva. They were leaving St. Martin and going directly to the Azores for a stopover, then heading to the Mediterranean for the summer months. They had flown in two extra crew members for the trip.

On the next dock over was 'Sindonemo', a 100-foot luxury yacht with a fiberglass hull.  Built by Yachting Developments of New Zealand and launched in 2000, the $5.4 million dollar Sindonemo has a beam of 21'3"ft and a draft of 9'6" ft. She has a cruising speed of 10 knots, carries almost 400 gallons of fuel and has a cruising range of 2500 miles. 

Sindonemo was also on the way to the Mediterranean for the summer.  The crew is shown leaving the dock for a sea trial to make sure everything is "shipshape" before departing for a 3-week trip across the Atlantic.

The ‘Axonite’, a 69 feet yacht, was built in Amsterdam in 2010. The design process was a collaboration between Satellite Yacht Design and Guido de Groot Design. With her bronze painted hull, black carbon rigging and sleek appearance she is an unusual yacht with a futuristic look. Indeed, the yacht is named for axonite, “a miracle substance in the Dr. Who universe.” (Dr. Who is a popular British sci-fi series). 
Photo Credit: Sailing Yacht Axonite, Lounging on Deck in the Azores

The deck and the cockpit are not teak but a light aesthetic composite decking with the logo ‘Axonite’ milled into it in various areas. 

On deck the most striking feature is the black carbon mast of over 90 feet and the Park Avenue boom. In the lazarette an automatic dinghy launch system is installed for releasing the inflated dinghy. Thanks to the lift keel (4.5 feet to10 feet) the yacht can enter shallow waters and harbors.

Photo Credit: Sailing Yacht Axonite, Facebook

Axonite departed Sint Maarten on May 10, traveled to Horta, Azores, and arrived in Portugal on June 7. Here is a photo from Axonite's Facebook page as she traveled across the Atlantic.

Photo Credit: Sailing Yacht Axonite, Facebook

She traveled along the coast of Spain and arrived on the Spanish island of Mallorca (Majorca) (tennis great Rafa Nadal's home island) on June 16. Axonite is now preparing for cruising around Sardinia, Corsica, and Elba. 

There are also mega sailing yachts for charter.. IF you have the cash! 

Sail yacht  'Artemis' is a 144-ft luxury yacht charter sloop. Built by Fitzroy Yachts of New Zealand, aluminum hull Artemis was launched in late 2007. She has a 22 ft. draft with a hull speed of 12 knots.  
The weekly charter price? $13,000 PLUS expenses! 

If you would like to have an affordable chartered fully crewed yacht vacation in the British Virgin Islands, we would highly recommend Steve and Deb Schlosser aboard their Voyager 44 Catamaran.  Here is the link to their charter listing: Alternate Latitude
Check out their Facebook page: Alternate Latitude! 
We have a fascination with boats... large and small. Although it's fun to indulge our curiosity and find out about the mega yachts, we are very happy aboard our own little yacht! We are so fortunate to be able to explore the Caribbean! It's a great retirement lifestyle.  Even when life throws us twists and turns, we try to keep a positive attitude and find a way to keep living the dream!
Our girl Genesis

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