Saturday, January 31, 2009

St Martin - Not so bad after all

[Maryanne]After a little passport scare, we got Kyle off to work safely during the week. That left me in St Maarten to explore and start the long list of chores. St Maarten is a bit of a boaters' Mecca. Duty free, and LOTS of boaters' services to hand - so people deliberately detour here to get work done on their boats. Hence it is full of cruisers and mega Yachts. Many cruisers tend to stay a while and find work, so all the boating places are full of cruisers and service is good and friendly. There is an excellent "cruisers net" in the mornings on the VHF radio, where cruisers can ask the group anything from where can I do laundry? Where can I purchase a soda stream?, buy sell and swap items etc. It "feels" like a community here.

I have yet to do anything touristy (except try out a few bars :-) ), and I've walked a lot from place to place doing my chores (because we don't have a motor on our dinghy, I row as short a distance as possible and then walk the rest - but since nearly everything I need is on the lagoon, most cruisers simply dinghy directly to where they need to go.

All that worry about safety, and I certainly haven't felt in any risk so far (thankfully, but obviously I'm being sensible). It really put things into perspective for me the other day when at the 9:30 bridge opening (into the lagoon) ALL the mega-yachts started honking their horns like crazy... I was not sure what was going on at first, and thought we were about to be ploughed into.. After the noise died down (and the honking is still going on a little 20 minutes later) someone on the radio asked what all the horns were for.. A reply said for the vessel (just arriving) whose captain was killed in Antigua. The yacht was Perseus. I hadn't heard about any incident so did a quick bit of research - I read "The victim was shot in the chest at close range Thursday night (22nd Jan) as he walked through a dockyard area near English Harbour with his girlfriend, Police Commissioner Thomas Bennett said. The motive was unclear and no arrests have been made, Bennett said." Another reports says the assault occurred by the Galley Bar in English Harbour. His Girlfriend was also shot (in the foot, in a some struggle) and his kid was there too.. I was so shocked I just cried. See full report. Now all that happened in Antigua, in sleepy English Harbour - right by a tiny open air bar than Kyle and I spent some time at sampling rum punches - Antigua is the 2nd lowest crime rate in the Caribbean, and all the time we were there, there was not so much as a minor theft. That news, and the earlier plane landing in the Hudson (all plane crashes make me reflect on Kyle's safety too) had me thankful how lucky we are! I can't imagine how the crew of the Perseus must be feeling, and of course the family of the captain - such a terrible and tragic loss.

I guess you are never truly safe anywhere, and you'll sooner or later die of something - I may as well enjoy myself and be reasonably careful along the way. Still, I'll skip the Gentleman's clubs here in St Maarten :-)


Anonymous said...

So very sad to read of the death of the captain of the Perseus (sp?)megayacht. He was young, vibrant and probably full of life until a Sopranos ending. Dark. What an utter loss. I know you are sensible in your comings and goings, but when something like this happens, you surely are more aware of your surroundings and hopefully, vigilant. When people know you are there alone, that makes you more vulnerable. I wouldn't want you to ever stop living the way you do,but it is sobering to see what can happen in an instant. Enjoy what must be beautiful weather and know you are never far from my thoughts and heart.

kate said...

What a horrible tragedy in Antigua - very unsettling and sad. I'm glad you and Kyle enjoyed the place and relieved you weren't touched by any crime. It certainly gives one pause, but you're right - all you can do is take reasonable precautions and enjoy life. I'm so happy to hear of all the boat services there on St. Martin, and the friendly people around. Now on to the important stuff -- how's the roasted corn? :)