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Karen & Jon Return

Karen and Jon

February 8 - February 15, 2002

Karen Egbert & Jon Hitchings, sailing off Anguilla
Karen and Jon, sailing off Anguilla

Like many of our first visitors, Karen and Jon came down while we were still in St. Martin working on Ocelot.  Since they were our first sailing visitors, they got to be the guinea pigs to see if we could actually sail our new boat.  Even motoring out through the (narrow) bridge on the French side of the lagoon was exciting for us then.  Karen and Jon have been close friends of ours for many years and had visited us on our first boat, Oriental Lady, back in the 1980's.  It was wonderful to have them on board once again -- this time with Chris and Amanda with us!

Karen and Jon are quite the divers and had already done several dives off Saba before they came aboard Ocelot.  Since we didn't carry dive gear at the time, we took them to what we remembered as some of our favorite snorkeling spots around St. Maarten.  We started with the rocks off Grande Case, St. Martin, and then went north to Anguilla and Crocus Bay.

Anguilla is a favorite old stomping ground for us - in the '80s we ran a day-charter catamaran for a year, doing a picnic/snorkeling trip from Marigot Bay, St. Martin to little reef enclosed Sandy Island off the NW coast of Anguilla.  It was a delightful trip with good coral, ample beaches, nice shade, and swimming pool quality water inside the protected reef.  Unfortunately, several hurricanes have hit the area since we worked there, uprooting all the trees and destroying the reef, so we avoided it this time and anchored instead in beautiful Crocus Bay on the western Anguillan coast.

Nesting holes in the limestone cliffs near Crocus Bay, Anguilla
Nesting holes in the limestone cliffs near Crocus Bay
Sunset in Crocus Bay, Anguilla
Sunset in Crocus Bay, Anguilla

Crocus Bay has several bird colonies nesting in its interesting cliffs, and intricate rocks under water.  It's been made into a nature preserve and the pelicans have decided that they love the lack of competition for fish.  At times, while snorkeling, we couldn't see the rocks for all the fish swimming around us.  With a clear view to the west, Crocus Bay also gets wonderful sunsets.

We took a day trip out to Prickly Pear Cays and had an interesting snorkel, but the anchorage there is not good enough to stay the night so we went back to Crocus.

I agree with you, Jon After leaving Anguilla, we had a delightful sail up to the northwest corner of St. Martin, to Isle Pinel and Orient bay.  The reef there is cordoned off and protected but not as interesting as we remembered it.  Walking the beach on Pinel and catching up on old times was great.  This week with Karen and Jon was our first real taste of cruising again after 6 weeks of non-stop boat work in Simpson Lagoon.  Lazy days exploring or sailing, quiet mornings talking in the cockpit, and music-filled evenings after dinner with Amanda or Sue on the guitar and all of us singing. Sun Goddess Karen at play

An evening "sunset sail" on Ocelot
A delightful evening "sunset sail" on Ocelot
I see you, too, Amanda Since conditions were calm, we motored to Tintamarre, a small island off the coast of St. Martin just for a day. There we beheld an interesting spectacle that, unfortunately, wasn't recorded on camera.  There were a group of about a dozen "hairless beach apes" cavorting at one end of the beach.  These were day-trippers out from Orient Beach, the local "free" beach, and yes, they were sun burning themselves in uncomfortable places.  Then they started rubbing green mud all over themselves and each other.  Having thus "dressed" themselves, they proceeded to parade down the beach and pose for pictures in front of about 80 shocked American day trippers.  Lesson:  NEVER underestimate the French... (Sorry, no photos. Censored!)

We sailed back to Simpson Lagoon and dropped the hook off the little island in the middle of the lagoon, as close as possible to the airport.  It was hard to say goodbye to Karen and Jon after such a short visit, but we had more visitors coming in that same afternoon!  We'd had a wonderful week of joking, laughing, swimming, snorkeling, identifying fish, and eating a wide variety of tasty vegetarian dishes.  Great fun with old friends!

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