May 28, 2022
Who would have imagined that a vacation on St. Maarten twelve years ago would lead to where we are today? This all began with our introduction to Garth Steyn and the St. Maarten Sailing School (now the Maritime School of the West Indies). Forty hours of classroom time and forty hours of time on the water over a two week period. Garth was a tough teacher, but his knowledge of and passion for sailing and teaching was contagious. We loved it! We went back to St. Maarten on vacation many times and most times we were able to spend time with him and become more proficient at sailing. We also became friends with Garth and his family and told him that one day we would return to St. Maarten on our own sailboat and sail into Simpson Bay to pick up one of his mooring balls. On May 24, 2022, we did just that!
On the morning of May 23, we dropped our mooring in Caneel Bay, St. John and started out against the seas and wind (will this ever end?!). We pulled our main sail and it immediately jammed with a big gust of wind. So we pulled into the mooring field of Great Lameshur Bay and picked up the same ball that we had previously spent three nights on. Less than 10 minutes later, we were again on our way. We tacked back and forth to try to access some of the “in your face” wind, but to no avail. We were not making enough progress to get to St. Maarten within a couple of days. The seas were a bit bigger than forecast. The prediction was for 2-3 feet but reality was 4-5 feet…..all against us and close together. So we slogged on “motor sailing” for our 24 hour trip to St. Maarten, our last stop for this season. We trudged forward at an average of 4 knots. Not quite the speed that we had envisioned. During the night we passed many freighters and cruise ships, still inching along. There was a great deal of sargassum seaweed floating in the water. Try as we might to miss the biggest patches, that proved to be impossible and some of it wrapped our prop making us go even slower.
Finally, just seven hours after our predicted arrival time, we could see the outline of Simpson Bay. We texted Garth. Just one more hour. As we got closer, a large dinghy approached us……OMG…..it is Garth, smiling! We made it, we were home. And yes, we did hook his mooring!