April 28th, 2002
Saint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles
The party at the Floating Bar was tame,
and we missed seeing Heather and the other cast of characters.
So, instead we drove over to the French side of the island
for dinner (Jerry, the other broker at Bay Island informed
us Friday is mussel night on the French side). We had an absolutely
mouth watering meal at, "BDLG" (?) starting with
a dozen escargot and a bottle of amazing wine
La Vieille France. From there we moved on to seabass, and
mussels with a crème sauce and papas frites or, french
fries. I have never had such delicious french fries in my
life! They were unreal.
Yesterday morning we both woke up at 4am
and couldn't sleep in anticipation of our first sail aboard
Force Five. We arrived at the dock 10 minutes early to meet
the current owners, South Africans Sean and Jo (short for
Joanne), and Heather who were already there.
Over the course of the day, I can't begin
to tell you everything we learned. Not only about Force Five,
but cruising in general. Here's what I can recall most readily
About Force Five:
- Force Five refers an idyllic wind speed
when you're sailing
- While Sean & Jo had considered renaming
her initially, they recalled that they had renamed their
first boat and lost her in a hurricane
and thus left
this boat's name alone (re-naming a boat is considered very
bad luck. There are a number of tricks you can use to get
around this however. Our good friend Bill McNealy of Marine
Protection LLC can fill you in if you're interested, and
moreover has a ritual to cast out the bad luck if you decide
to go forward with a renaming. He'll proudly tell you he
hasn't lost one yet!)
- Force Five (I mean our boat Force Five
here) can get up to about 7- 71/2 knots
fast for a boat her size
she's even raced some- in
the Cape to Rio race for instance. She was booking along
yesterday with the five of us aboard!
- They bought her in South Africa from
her first owner and spent 17 days at sea on their passage
across the Atlantic.
- They bought her pretty raw and added
most of the electronics and amenities to make her more comfortable
and safe for cruising
- Sean and Jo cruised her throughout the
Caribbean, along the east coast of South America and up
to the Chesapeake Bay. She was designed to withstand rigorous
seas and we will be quite safe on her.
About their cruising experience in general:
- Avoid using credit cards for all the
reasons you might expect (the number being taken, or carbons
- In their seven years cruising, they never
found themselves bribed. Once, in South America, they were
unnerved by local authorities boarding to inspect things.
They were asked if the alcohol aboard was for them (meaning
the authorities). They just firmly said no and they weren't
- Don't tip much. First of all, you identify
yourself as someone who has a lot of money. Secondly, what
might be a customary amount at home may be more money than
someone makes in a whole week in other economies. Thirdly,
be sure your tab doesn't already include a tip or a "tax"
in countries where there is none. Educate yourself in each
- You'll find that many markets will give
you a ride to and fro, or even deliver. And not just in
the islands where they're more accustomed to cruisers. In
a Florida community much like what we're used to at home
(where the closest grocery might be miles away) Sean called
a Rally's or some such thing, and informed the manager that
he was sailing up the U.S. coast and had no car. He intended
to come in and spend $300-$400 to provision his boat and
wondered if they might have someone to give him a ride.
They happily obliged, intrigued and curious about what adventure.
- We'll find ourselves on the younger side
of most cruisers. And like all communities, we'll also find
nice people, odd people, crazy people, particular people,
etc. They found in their travels, you should take everyone's
advice with a grain of salt. Some of the nervous-nellies
out there often suggested staying away from some more questionable
they often found those the most interesting
spots and least crowded. Try finding a buddy boat and watch
out for each other.
- Exercise your power to say "no."
They occasionally found some cruisers wanting to spend more
time together more than they preferred, but that when they
politely declined, no one was offended.
- To avoid getting roaches on board:
- NEVER bring any cardboard on
- If you participate in book-trades ashore, put them
in a Ziploc bag with with some bug spray and leave them
in the cockpit for a few days before taking them out.
- When bringing leafy produce on board, you can soak
it in bit of some sort of South African crystal antiseptic
(we'll have to ask the name again)
Throughout our two hour sail, beers back
at dock, and a dock side lunch in Marigot on the French side,
Sean and Jo shared so much, we couldn't possibly have absorbed
it all. But hopefully writing it down will help. Without a
doubt, we found ourselves envious of all they've seen over
their years cruising. Eventually they had a birthday party
to be off to, so we bid them our gratitude and farewell, and
will meet them again Tuesday at 9am to get the keys and go
through all the spare parts, etc.
Heather's partner Jerry ended up catching
up with us in Marigot and we shared another bottle of wine
before the four us headed back to the Floating Bar (we've
since learned this bar actually has an official name of, the
Lady C). There we met another funny and warm couple that are
looking at fishing boats with Jerry. They're truck drivers
from Washington and own a fishing boat in Chula Vista harbor
where I used to have lunch when I worked at Troxel. They were
hilarious! We now had a band of six of us by dinner time.
We split up between two dinghies and shot across the harbor
for Indian food. As expected, it was delicious.
Heather gave us the details for tonight's
Carnival celebration. We should plan to get there around midnight
for the first band. There will be dancing and revelry until
around 4am when j' ouvert (JU-vay?) begins. J 'ouvert sounds
like a big parade of dancing and music. I guess it's some
sort of celebration of the dawn or something? Anyway- I'm
sure we'll know more tomorrow.
Until then, cheers!
Curt and Allison