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January 1, 2003
New Years With Amie

It was strange and sad to see Nate and Sandy go, but it was also really great to have Amie still here to distract us! Last time she came for a visit, she got the short end of the stick as vacations go. We had been so busy trying to get ready to leave the docks for good that we didn't leave when she visited at all. So this time she got a carte blanche vote on where she wanted to go. Without a hesitation she knew- it was Saba. One of our favorite islands- regardless of the uncomfortable anchorage.

Nate and Sandy were on their way back to the US, and Amie, Curt and I were on our way to Saba! We had a great sail, Amie got lots of sleep, and we made it to the little volcanic island by late afternoon. You may remember that we visited this island when Gus visited us last June, and the mooring system hasn't changed since then. It's a steep island, with not even one beach to speak of, but rather, sheer rocky cliffs all the way up. The island is nearly completely round, and so there isn't even a finger of land to afford some protection from the weather. But Saba's underwater marine park is strictly guarded, and so they prefer you pick up a mooring. They're situated rather far offshore, and it's bit strange- like being anchored out in the middle of the sea! And unfortunately for us, the winter brought northerly swells, making things just that much more rolly.

After a long night fighting with our mooring, we were still excited to go ashore. But darn that island if it doesn't make you work really hard to enjoy it. The spot we would normally beach the dinghy was being pounded by the northerly surf and completely dangerous. So instead, we traversed around the corner, braving the elements, to make it to their only little harbor. There, we caught a cab ride to the bottom of the trailhead that leads to the tippy top of Saba (last time we were here with Gus, we learned the hard way how far it is just to hike up to the first town called Bottom!). It was a short hike in timelength, but a killer on the lungs! It takes about an hour and a half to climb all the way to the top, and it just keeps getting steeper and steeper. But, it was absolutely worth every step! We hiked through rainforest past leaves that were bigger than our whole body, and pushing vines out of the way to keep moving forward. By the time we got to the top, the clouds were starting to cover the tip where we were, and it was bizarre to see the line of fog where we were, settling atop the island like a sombrero. All around, we could see ocean forever, and watch the gusts of wind move across the water that we can't see while we're sailing. Tiny little specs of boats made their way from one spot to the other across the sea- moving so slowly it hardly seemed they were moving at all.

We made it back to the Force Five with just enough time to try and fit in a little snorkel before dusk. They're famous for their diving, and Curt swore that even just snorkeling last time with Gus was nothing short of amazing. Like swimming in an aquarium. And lucky us, on the way over to the spot we were headed toward, we heeded another boat's waving arms and went over to see if they were okay. They merely wanted to offer us the excess tuna they'd caught that day! Maybe five or six pounds of it- far more than we could even eat! Perhaps it was a good thing that the visibility was poor that afternoon- because we had a lot of tuna to barbecue.

After yet another long night unwinding Force Five off the mooring, and having it thump endlessly on our hull, and trying to wedge ourselves in a corner to dampen the rolling- we were ready to shove from fair Saba. It was New Year's Eve, and Amie had another place she wanted to see back in Saint Martin- one we'd wanted to visit and hadn't. A bay called Grand Case, the culinary center of the French side of the island.

It's a quaint spot. A long beach lined with fine restaurants and amazing food. Amie and I clamored ashore to make reservations at a spot she'd been told of, a restaurant called Rainbow. We were in luck- they could take the three of us. We returned for our reservation that night at 9pm and it was such an incredibly special treat for us to put on nice clothes, and have such a decadent meal. I'd forgotten what it was like! At eleven o'clock, a small fireworks show started off the beach, and as the three of us walked back to the boat along the sand at midnight, the sky came alive again with even more fireworks from Marigot, Oyster Pond, and across the channel on Anguilla. It was a perfect way to ring in 2003.

Her plane left the next day at 3pm, so we had enough time to grab lunch at one of the more relaxed barbecue restaurants on the waterfront. But of course, when the time came for her to leave, it feels like you've had no time together at all. There was so much more to talk about, and so much more I didn't get to tell her about. Before I knew it she was off in a cab, headed back to Orlando.

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