Here's the crew/our good friends, from left to right...
Kelly, Alan, Lil, Peter, Me, Steve, Joanne and Andy
And here's an abbreviated version of our itinerary:
Day 1 (5/15) - After spending two wonderful nights at our hotel outside Philipsburg, Steve and I met up with our lovely hosts, Captain Andy and Joanne (Peter's parents) at Oyster Pond on St. Maarten to pick up the boat and head off for Simpson Bay (Dutch side) to pick up the rest of the crew. After settling in, we took the dinghy into town and had dinner at a local hot spot called Toppers and finished off the night with a random bumper car ride.
Day 2 - After a night of no A/C (big mistake as the temps never dropped below 75), we traveled to Il Fourchue, a small island with no overnight anchorage, but a great spot for diving and scuba. After a couple of hours, we took off for Gustavia, St. Barths (popular destination of the rich and famous). Shops and restaurants close up early on Sunday so we enjoyed a nice walk through town and bbq'ed on the boat.
Day 3 - We sailed almost 50 miles south (about 6-7 hours, travling at 10-12 knots) to St. Kitts and experienced our first true rain squall (complete downpour for about ten minutes, followed immediately by blue sky). Seas were a bit rough to handle, but thankfully no one got sick. We ate a delicious dinner in the town of Basseterre at Ballahoo and spent the night in the marina, Port Zante.
Day 4 - Our local contact, Percy, picked us up on Tuesday morning and gave us a three hour tour around the island of St. Kitts. We stopped along the way at Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (gorgeous view) and Rawlins Plantation Inn. The island is known for green monkeys and I was lucky enough to meet and hold Timmy the baby monkey. After our tour, we set sail for the neighboring island of Nevis. I was set to check out a room at the Four Seasons, but later found out that it was closed due to hurricane damage. We anchored at Pinney Beach and swam to shore to check out some of the beach bars.
Day 5 - Steve, Peter, Andy and I took the dinghy into Charlestown (the only town on the island), toured around a bit and bought the most expensive case of beer ever - $43...desperate measures, call for desperate times. Mid-morning we set sail for St. Eustatius (Statia) and on our way had a pod of dolphins swim next to the boat for a bit. Wish we had captured some photos of this, but no one wanted to miss it to grab the camera. We anchored in Oranje Baai and honestly had no idea what to expect of this remote island. Alan, Steve and I explored Upper Statia (the town) and found the perfect restaurant (on the water) for dinner at the Golden Era Hotel.
Day 6 - While Alan and Andy went diving with a guide, the rest of us explored cute little Upper Statia again. We then sailed back to Gustavia, St. Barths to fill up our water tanks and check in with customs. While filling up with water, we moored next to a 176ft ridiculous yacht. the guests aboard the yacht, sipped their champagne, ate calamari (probably discussed the next piece of Louis Vuitton luggage they'd purchase) and had their security detail keeping a close eye on the riffraff next door...us. We then continued up the shoreline of St. Barths to the bay at Anse de Colombier (I think this was my favorite spot, but I might change my mind tomorrow). Steve and I grabbed a couple of beers and took the dinghy ashore to explore the hills.
Day 7 - Woke up to the most beautiful sunrise and did the best snorkeling I've ever done. We then sailed back to St. Maarten and anchored in Grand Case (French side). After dancing in the rain for a bit we put on our snorkel gear and swam in to the beach bars. I immediately spotted two of the most darling children I've ever seen and asked their French mother if I could take a few photos of them - she happily allowed me to and later asked if I would email the photos to her as she said she had never seen her kids pose so well together. We started cocktail hour (on the beach) at Calmos Cafe and didn't end up leaving until after dinner (possibly the best dinner of the trip). Steve dropped Lil and I off at the boat (we were partied out) and the rest of the crew went on to another bar to enjoy some live music.
The two most darling French kids. I asked their mom if I could take a few photos of them playing on the beach and she (thankfully) said yes. She was so excited that they actually went along with my little session that she gave me her email address at the end and asked if I would send her photos because she said her kids never smile or pose for the camera.
Day 8 - Our last sail of the trip (so sad) lasted about an hour from Grand Case back to Oyster Pond. We packed up our things and departed from the boat around 11am. We took a taxi to the Westin (luxury), where Steve and I ate a quick lunch at the pool and then showered before another taxi picked us up to take us to the airport. Andy and Joanne stayed an extra three nights at the Westin while Alan, Peter, Lil and Kelly stayed one night.
Most friends and family have asked what my favorite part of the trip was and I honestly don't have an answer. I obviously enjoyed some parts more than others, but the entire experience was too fabulous to pick just one favorite. If I had to choose just one island to go back to, I would have to say St. Barths. Steve and I hope to one day rent a house with friends or family and explore more of the island.