Sint Maarten > St. John

There are two ways to write about our experiences over the last 24 hours:

The social media version. We departed a little later than anticipated but received a lovely send off by the Dutch Coast Guard. The 100 mile journey to St. John was without incident and we decided to anchor out with some new friends Sunday night.

This is a 100% true, albeit rose colored, version. But leaves out some entertaining details, which are included in the slightly more raw version below…

We cleared out with the immigration and customs office on Friday and were advised that, due to COVID, the bridge openings were limited and when we left, we were not allowed to return until the COVID crisis was over. Cool. Understood. Leaving our boat yard, we have to clear 1st the Causeway Bridge and 2nd the Simpson Bay Bridge. When we arrived at the Causeway Bridge, all set and ready to go, brimming with excitement, we radioed the bridge “Sailing Vessel Marionette, please confirm the causeway bridge opening at 8:40 this morning. Over.” (Super official, right?). And they responded…. “No.” No? They said that we needed clearance from the Dutch Coast Guard as well. So we went back to the boat yard, hitched a ride to the Coast Guard’s office and explained the bridge confusion. The gentleman at the Coast Guard office was really helpful and made a couple of phone calls on our behalf. While the conversations were not in English, he explained that this was just a simple misunderstanding. People are understandably freaked out by COVID and everything was shutting down, but we were good. We, and the other boat trying to get through, were clear to leave at the 2:00 pm bridge opening. When we arrived back at the bridge we still had trouble and were told we didn’t have the proper clearance. The Dutch Coast Guard arrives in full battle suits, checked our paperwork and were told again that we had the correct documentation and promptly escorted us out. At 3:00, we were in open water.

Conditions were really mild, but I was pretty green. The motion was really getting to me, the evidence of that was on the side of the boat. Once I got to feeling a little better, I really did enjoy the night watch. At some points you couldn’t see where the sky ended and the water began. At sunrise, we could see the British and US Virgin Islands. Finding Cruz Bay proved to be frustrating, mainly because Cruz Bay Customs and Border Patrol isn’t actually in Cruz Bay – that building was destroyed during Irma, the new one is in Caneel Marina. Don’t worry, it’s not labeled either. After navigating the minefield that is sailboats on mooring balls we pulled up to the fuel dock – to be told that even though the fuel dock and the customs buildings are next door to each other, we couldn’t park and fuel up and clear customs simultaneously. We had to leave the bay and anchor out, bring our dinghy to shore and clear customs. Captain only, naturally. Then take our dinghy back to the boat, pull up anchor and renavigate back to the fuel dock. We met a cruising couple Johnny and Vanita on Island Lady, and they came and checked on us while we were trying to figure out where and how to anchor and gave me a ride to customs. Clearing in through US Customs was a breeze (ha – sailing humor) and when we made it back to the fuel dock, we were really pleased to see how little fuel we had used. We are tired and grumpy from a high stress few hours, so at Island Lady’s suggestion, we decided to head over to Maho Bay and anchor out with a bunch of other sailboats for the night.  HUGE shout out to s/v Island Lady – true embodiment of cruisers helping each other out. The ride to customs and the information on Maho Bay was truly priceless. Thanks guys!

What a find! Maho Bay is surrounded by the mountains of St. John and has a clear view of the majority of St. Thomas. Great little private beaches and crystal blue green waters. After a couple of tries, hubby nailed the anchoring and we settled in for the afternoon. A quick dip in the Caribbean Sea and a gentle rocking breeze was perfect and I didn’t think it could get any better. But wait! A couple of guys came by on a dinghy selling pizza! It COULD get better. I pinched myself to make sure that we had just in fact purchased a pizza from the side of our boat, delivered by dinghy, in the Caribbean, off the coast of St. John. Yep. That happened. Belly full of pizza, sun warming our skin, we nestled in for a much-needed siesta.

When Marionette purges water out of her bilge, she makes the most adorably unladylike belching sound. It really does sound a little like the rumblings of a soda in your belly and a belch of water to release. But we noticed she was really burpy. And spitting up more water than she should. There went our nap. Down to the engine room to investigate. Our brand new water pump was leaking. Of course it was. We disconnected, disassembled, and reassembled. And it is now leaking worse than before! Now we are losing daylight. And have no fresh water access. (accept bottles – don’t worry, dad, not parched). We disconnected, disassembled, and reassembled again. Same problem. At this point, we shut the water and decided to reassess in the morning. Nothing more we could do in the dark.

We are frustrated to put it mildly. But, on the bright side, we can’t say we want this life of adventure and experience and expect it to go perfectly. And, how do you know what you are made of if you never have to check? I have spent the last 10-15 years of my life doing things that push me pretty far outside of my comfort zone. This is one of the many things that hubs and I relate to each other on. In that time of paddling whitewater and doing adventure and endurance races, there have been many tears of frustration and moments of second guessing and self-doubt. But never once in the years of situations I have knowingly taken on and put myself in, have I come out the other side and regretted it. I came through with a sense of pride and accomplishment and a greater knowledge of what I am made of. We only get one life and I am going to live mine completely.

We will get to the hole in the boat part in tomorrow’s episode…

9 thoughts on “Sint Maarten > St. John

  1. Maho is my absolute favorite place on St John. Spent many a long beach day there doing absolutely nothing! Sounds like your adventure of a lifetime is going swimmingly so far!


  2. Wow! Love how you share the details & hopefully your Marionette has learned some etiquette…no more belching! 💕


  3. Wow!! This was better reading than the book I am currently in! Can’t wait to read the next chapter! Thank you for sharing and safe sailing!


  4. Hang in there. We had a bumpy start with our RV life, but the rewards outweigh the challenges. These types of experiences make us better people and create some interesting & funny stories to share.

    I couldn’t help but be a little envious of your location. I love St John & St Thomas. You are on an awesome journey! Safe sailing!


  5. “how do you know what you are made of if you never have to check?” – I needed that today Jana. Thank you for the inspiration. I love being part of this adventure with you from afar.


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