Getting Settled for Hurricane Season

June 30, 2022

We checked into St. Maarten with the assistance of an agent. He submitted our personal and boat documentation, along with our negative COVID tests, to Customs and Immigration and we headed to Simpson Bay Marina, our home for the next three weeks. We visited many familiar restaurants and beaches and enjoyed being able to visit with many friends, old and new. We toured several apartments looking for the right one to spend six months in while Slow Dancer is hauled out.

We spent three weeks at the marina in Simpson Bay Lagoon

During this time we saw the need for wheels and through Garth, met some new friends who sold us a used car. It was nice to finally have transportation that did not include shoes and a backpack! It was a lesson in island culture getting it licensed and insured. Apparently, while you are waiting for your license plates (which by the way are kept at the post office?), you place a “W” on your empty license space. When asked what the W was for……”waiting” of course!

Our “new” wheels

During this time, Ken was having some difficulty breathing and had some swelling in his legs. We watched it, but it didn’t seem serious until one morning when he got off the boat and had a very difficult time walking up the dock to the car. Time to go see what was up. We drove to Phillipsburg (15 minutes away) and checked into the Emergency Room. Since the pandemic, patients had to be checked out alone and their family waited in a separated outside waiting room. There was a two hour excruciating wait, to find out that his heart was not beating properly and he was entering heart failure, along with fluid in his lungs. This was a huge shock to both of us. He was admitted and spent three days in ICU, where a very kind Cardiologist monitored him and prescribed several medications to get him stabilized.

The St. Maarten hospital was like those in the U.S. from past eras

We got him back to the boat with all of his meds and instructions to not lift or walk far. These were difficult instructions since it was now time to totally dismantle Slow Dancer and move her to Philipsburg to be hauled out. At the same time, we had to move all of our belongings off the boat and into our new apartment, 10 miles away. To the rescue were our many St. Maarten (Dutch side) and St. Martin (French side) friends, who helped Dale to take down sails and sheets (ropes that are used to work the sails), solar panels, canvas coverings, the boom, etc. and install railings that had been repaired. Dale used the “new” car to load boxes and tubs of all of our belongings. 8 trips later, we were moved into the apartment. We still had to “pickle” our watermaker (put it to sleep), chlorinate our water tank and pour all of our diesel jugs into the tank. It was difficult for Ken to watch, but he jumped in to do the things that didn’t require lifting or walking.

Not quite the deck of Slow Dancer, but a nice balcony on our apartment
Beautiful view from the grounds of our apartment building
The walk to the pool. We definitely aren’t “roughing” it!

The day came to move Slow Dancer out of the lagoon, through the bascule bridge into the sea and across several miles to Phillipsburg and Bobby’s Haul Out Yard. We knew that Dale would go, but depending on the weather, it might be too much for Ken. To the rescue, Garth offered to help. With him at the helm and Dale manning the fenders and lines, Slow Dancer was delivered to Phillipsburg.

Garth at the helm of Slow Dancer

It was sad watching our home being lifted into the air. We have “hauled out” before, but always knowing that we would return to the water within a few days. This would be a long time to leave her.

Slow Dancer waiting for the lift to haul her out
….and she’s out!
Slow Dancer in the boat yard

And here Slow Dancer will rest for hurricane season. We will spend time fixing some things that have worn out over time, getting new rigging and bottom paint. Her mast will be removed and stowed for a few months before new rigging and sheets are installed. We will visit her 2-3 times each week to air her out.

Now to head to the states and see a few doctors as well as friends and family. Slow Dancer, we will return soon!

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