Monday March 9 My 83rd birthday on St. Barth and Saint Martin and the 40th Heineken Regatta.

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 9th, 2020

I left Marigot on Monday February 24th, just a short 25 miles sail. The island, harbor and the town of Gustafia are a delight. Quite a contrast to St. Martin and Sint Maarten. Much cleaner and better run. It is the playground of the wealthy, particularly yacht owners. Every luxury brand store is represented here on the harbor front.

Gustavia harbor

From the Anse Public anchorage

Typical style from the Swedish colonial period

 

 

 

I met up with Richard and Dona Spindler and Jim and Jeannette Drake, who I had met with Richard’s catamaran “Ti Profligate” in Marigot. Richard treated me to a fabulous birthday dinner with the Drakes and several other sailor friends, at “Eddie’s” restaurant. Before dinner he introduced me to a group of local expat sailors from France and the USA at the “Select Bar” a longtime sailor hangout.

L.R. Richard Spindler, Steve Travis, longtime US sailor/adventurer on the island, Luc Poupon, Michel Corre a salty Breton sailor

Meeting the French sailing legend Luc Poupon, at the “Select”, was a treat. He started his trophy collection when I jumped into my new passion in the mid seventies and I remember reading about his and his older brother Philippe sailing accomplishments.  60 transatlantic crossings, with an impressive sailing record, like trans-Atlantic solo record, many others most on “Fleury Michou” see:https://www.lepoint.fr/…/avec-tabarly-on-ne-s-attachait-jam… He started Les Voiles de St. Barth regatta in 2010 which is now one of the most aspired yachting event in the Caribbean. On right is Michel Corre, Breton with several Atlantic crossings, solo and crewed.

I returned to Marigot on the 29th and was treated by three couples of my longtime Gig Harbor YC friends for another birthday dinner at the “O Plongeur” across from the Marina Fort Louis.

L.R. Marlys Clark, me, Janet James, Terry James, Doris Gordon, Tom Gordon, Greg Clark

 

Greg and Marlys Clark have their Bali Catamaran in a charter program out of the Grenadines and picked up a similar yacht here. Marlys used to work with me in Gig Harbor from 1988 until 1997. They were then living on “Oasis” a motor yacht, moored in Gig Harbor bay. She used to commute to our office on their tender. Greg became a captain on super ocean-going yachts. Marlys worked, until her recent retirement, as the stewardess. An exciting life that took them across the globe on different yachts. They plan to move onto their own catamaran when Greg retires in a few years. We have been together since the 5th on the Dutch side of the island, near the bridge into Simpson Bay, where all the action has been until yesterday. The 40th Heineken regatta. This you tube video https://youtu.be/-Y9fkrsl1SI

will give you an idea of the excitement.  This regatta is known for some of the world’s top competitors as well the cruising class. In this class, there are many participating with local charter boats. A fourth couple from Gig harbor, Kelly and Shawna Bussey, joined the Clarks party on the 4th.

Greg, Terry and Kelly helped me to the top of the mast on Friday to replace the lamp for the Tri-Color and to replace the windex that lew off in the strong winds on my way from Beaufort.

taken by Janet James from “Dominique”

They left on Saturday for St. Barth, I tried to follow them a couple hours later, but the wind had strengthened and I considered it to have to sail through the starting fleet in these conditions and not having a working tiller pilot. I went to work on the tiller pilot and got the motor running but the compass does not work any longer. I am going to try find a solution/parts today.

I attended the 8.30 mass in Philipsburg at the church of Saint Martin of Tours (same saint as the church I attended twice in Marigot), served by the order of Divine Word Missionaries. This was a very special experience. The congregation, majority the black locals and some tourist, is very much involved in the liturgy and an impressive list of church and social activities. They sing Happy Birthday for any who has a birthday that week, and they have a song for any first-time visitors. The associate pastor is from Indonesia, Yohanes Bally SVD. After a very meaningful sermon, he whipped out his guitar and sang this wonderful song: https://youtu.be/QZXPsCjUl6w

Much of the liturgy was sung. With a voice and musical talent, he has to be the envy of many believers and his colleagues.

You hear very little Dutch on Sint Maarten. There is a rare radio program in Dutch. Many Americans and Canadians work here and have retired here. The Dollar is the most common payment method. They also still have their own currency, the guilder. And the Euro is also accepted but less so than with their French neighbors.

The Clarks are already on their way back from St. Barth. I will probably wait here to see them in the next couple of days when they return their catamaran to Marigot.

 

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