School Days

Waiting after school for mommy to come home from work

Waiting after school for mommy to come home from work

This week, like for so many was the beginning of school … while this may not look like a major thing that would affect us, in reality it does.

Kate is starting 7th grade, Jaci 5th, Genna 1st and Jack doing pre-K … our goal and plan is to follow the Florida curriculum and to adapt/augment it to fit into our situation. The idea is that the kids would get back into the school system next year being at the same place, at least that is the idea :), as their friends.

Kate presenting her project

Kate presenting her project

Jaci showing her art project

Jaci showing her art project

Jaci reading her story as the stingray, being afraid of the girl that swam over top ... :)

Jaci reading her story as the stingray, being afraid of the girl that swam over top … :)

Reading her story and presenting her research

Reading her story and presenting her research

We have some excited about school starting, some indifferent and some not too happy that the summer was “over” … which I thought was funny, considering where we are and what we are doing … anyways … Like many, Monday was the first day of school … which runs from 8A to around 1P for us …

We did start actually about 2 weeks ago with a project that each had to do … they needed to choose a reef creature that they had seen while snorkeling and then research it, create a biography, write a first-person story as the creature and some sort of artistic rendering.

Jaci's art project on stingrays

Jaci’s art project on stingrays

Genna proudly showing her turtle picture

Genna proudly showing her turtle picture

Kate's art project ... she collected the sand from the sea bed at Cooper Island, BVI where she saw this fish.

Kate’s art project … she collected the sand from the sea bed at Cooper Island, BVI where she saw this fish.

Last night it was due, and each presented after dinner … Jack presented his drawing, Genna did a drawing and read her story about being a turtle. Jaci chose a stingray made did a great art project. Kate chose a fish and made a diorama type thing, using sand she collected from the actual place she saw the fish.

Trying something new to help with digestion

Trying something new to help with digestion

Everyone did great … off to bed after a short movie, as school comes around early … which Jaci keeps reminding us of :)

 

Ile Tintamarre

Jaci enjoying the day as we head out to Tintamarre

Jaci enjoying the day as we head out to Tintamarre

On a last minute decision, we untied the boat and headed out for the weekend … since the bridge on the French side opens at 930, 230 and 530 … and it was 11, we finished our grocery shopping, topped up our water tanks, stowed all the gear and headed out of the marina … we made the bridge, which luckily was working and headed out to Marigot Bay.

Our two dinghies in tow, the sailing dinghy on the davits and the inflatable kayak on top ... we bring the fleet with us :)

Our two dinghies in tow, the sailing dinghy on the davits and the inflatable kayak on top … we bring the fleet with us :)

While "otto" steers (autopilot), Jack and I keep an eye for pirates and other scurvy souls :)

While “otto” steers (autopilot), Jack and I keep an eye for pirates and other scurvy souls :)

We didn’t have a destination in mind, just somewhere to swim, snorkel and a beach to visit/play on … we knew that the ride would be smooth all the way to Grande Case, as the water is on the lee of the island. Basically, the island blocks the waves … so if you stay relatively close (within a mile), it is fairly flat and smooth … We know Grande Case, as we had spent a previous weekend there … so we decided to see what the waves looked like and maybe make Ile Tintamarre.

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Ile Tintamarre, is a park and has some great history to it … most of which we only found out upon returning :( … we will make another trip to explore in more detail … anyways back to the story … We rounded the point at Grande Case and found the waves/rollers to be about 6-8ft … at a nice slow speed of about 8 mph the motion was not too bad and we decided to keep going.

Making our way out of Marigot enroute to Ile Tintamarre

Making our way out of Marigot enroute to Ile Tintamarre

Kate and Anna rode almost the whole way on the bows, riding the waves and taking some good splashes … the rest of us rode in the nice dry and covered fly bridge (upstairs steering) area … it took about 45 minutes of pounding into the waves to make the anchorage at the island … which, being a park, had some nice mooring balls that we could tie to … a late afternoon swim and snorkel and we would settle for the night.

Getting rid of the salt, or as we call it, the weekly shower :) ... Ok, daily shower after swimming.

Getting rid of the salt, or as we call it, the weekly shower :) … Ok, daily shower after swimming.

The view of St. Martin from the stern of Discovery. At night, we had a great light show, with the houses lining some of the hills.

The view of St. Martin from the stern of Discovery. At night, we had a great light show, with the houses lining some of the hills.

… turns out that it wasn’t going to be a terribly good night :( … while no one got sick, the anchorage was a little rolly, nice way of saying, queesy inducing motion … ugh. We had our generator running nicely, so it was nice and cool in the cabins, which for me always helps with any motion sickness … around 1030P, when everyone was asleep, the boat next too us starting yelling at us … Michelle heard them and went out to talk to the neighbors, fearing something was wrong.

Turns out that our neighbors did not like our generator and requested that we turn it off … since we did not want to start an international incident (well Michelle didn’t), we capitulated and switched it off … our neighbors, from France, on vacation for 2 weeks on a rented boat with no AC and Generator wanted quite for the night … I get it … my fault for picking the mooring ball next to them … next time I will “park” out of earshot :).

We woke in the morning early (remember the not great night of sleep) … I had to dive one of the holding tanks what had become clogged … one of my seemingly repeating tasks (I only have installed 2 of the 4 macerating toilets) … and about an hour later everyone was up and ready for the day.

One of the best ways to enjoy the wind, water and sun ... nap time.

One of the best ways to enjoy the wind, water and sun … nap time.

Our little dude didn’t fair well and woke up with a very upset tummy … he threw up a couple of times before we got him ashore … he threw up there one more time, but once we started playing and hanging out in the water, he got his color back and was back to normal.

We couldn’t head ashore with our dinghies, as the waves where breaking on the beach and landing the boat would be tough … so we used our inflatable kayak and a pool toy we had acquired :) … everyone got ashore by either swimming or riding and inflatable toy.

Michelle, Anna and Kate headed out to snorkel. Jaci and Genna went exploring and I stayed and played with Jack. The girls found a bunch of turtles feeding in the area and swam with them for several minutes. Kate was diving 15ft+ to stay with the turtle … seemingly one with the water and ocean … wish I could have captured that on video (our GoPro isn’t online yet).

We explored the island some, finding an old shipwreck (which had been there under a year) and walking the paths … we will have to head back to find the abandoned airfield and airplane wrecks that are there somewhere on another trip.

One asleep and two listening to music ... while yet another plays music on the boat radio ... just chilling out for the ride back to the marina ... St. Martin on the left, waves behind us ... so a comfortable ride :)

One asleep and two listening to music … while yet another plays music on the boat radio … just chilling out for the ride back to the marina … St. Martin on the left, waves behind us … so a comfortable ride :)

We headed home around 2P, making Marigot Bay by 4P … Kate and Jaci snorkeled in the 10ft water picking up starfish and just playing … we took the dinghy to the local store for some bread while we waited for the 530P bridge … Discovery was back at her marina by 630, a little salty, a little dirtier and with 7 happy, albeit sun bleached souls. Dinner and everyone to bed early as school officially starts the next day.

Jack and Genna on the bow, as we head down Simpson Lagoon on our way back to our marina.

Jack and Genna on the bow, as we head down Simpson Lagoon on our way back to our marina.

Supporting the arts …

Link

Waiting for the show to begin, she was bored ... but once it started, she was glued for the whole time.

Waiting for the show to begin, she was bored … but once it started, she was glued for the whole time.

We had a very nice evening at a local restaurant called “Toppers by the Sea”. The place is run by “Topper” from Boston and is a typical resort bar/restaurant right on the beach. We chose, better said, got invited to dinner and a show … we couldn’t refuse as Kate was going to be performing.

That evening, it was the 267th consecutive show at Toppers, which is a “tradition” that every Thursday night (they had to move it only once to Friday due to a hurricane) they do dinner and a show … the show part is put on by the local dance studio … it is a real show, and always a musical … last night it was Grease.

A very nice performance ... this was the 267th consecutive show at Toppers.

A very nice performance … this was the 267th consecutive show at Toppers.

The "Grease" dinner show ... Kate stood at the back and sang along to all the songs :)

The “Grease” dinner show … Kate stood at the back and sang along to all the songs :)

The restaurant, pays the performers (as professionals) and provides the performers a place to showcase their talents and skills … what a great idea. The director of the school casts the company, and they perform every week.

Kate performing, she fell right at the beginning, got right up and kept going, you could't even tell on her face ... she looked like she really enjoyed herself.

Kate performing, she fell right at the beginning, got right up and kept going, you could’t even tell on her face … she looked like she really enjoyed herself.

Kate having a good time performing her tap routine ...

Kate having a good time performing her tap routine …

Kate was invited by the director to open for the show … she was the 2nd act, the first was a 9yr old girl (Toppers daughter) that did a number from Chicago. Kate was then introduced and performed her tap routine … see the video link (not great, but you’ll get the idea). She did great and when she was done the company went into their show (about 30 min total) … she got lots of compliments and seemed to love it. Topper came by at the end of the evening and asked her to come back and perform again … :)

Two happy diners ... well, Jack's smile may be a little coaxed :) ... waiting for dinner and a show

Two happy diners … well, Jack’s smile may be a little coaxed :) … waiting for dinner and a show

This one seems to love the camera at way too young an age :)

This one seems to love the camera at way too young an age :)

It was not only great to watch Kate perform, which we love, but it was great to watch the other performers, to know that the community is supporting their development, to know that they are being given an opportunity and being helped. We sat for a long time afterwards speaking with many of the people, learning more about the island, it’s history, the people and life here … a very nice evening supporting the arts indeed.

The fleet at the home port ... sun setting and we are all off to a dinner show

The fleet at the home port … sun setting and we are all off to a dinner show

… The day was also very full, aside from work (more on this in another post), we got our dinghy upgraded with a few bolt-ons … it’s now the family “car”, we added a fuel filter, to make sure we take care of the engine, a battery disconnect, to protect the battery when we don’t use it and a planing plate to the engine, to allow us to get on plane faster … Kate and Jaci are becoming master boat drivers … they drive everywhere, they are learning the rules of the road, how to dock and how to maintain the boat … love the focus and the smiles they have when going down the water.

Practicing getting the boat the right way :) ... I think it is more play time than anything.

Practicing getting the boat the right way :) … I think it is more play time than anything.

Jaci rocking her sunglasses ... she got whacked a couple of times in the head with the boom. I think it took a little while to get the "duck" down pat :)

Jaci rocking her sunglasses … she got whacked a couple of times in the head with the boom. I think it took a little while to get the “duck” down pat :)

Kate tacking upwind

Kate tacking upwind

Jaci with Kate in the background, making the marks around the course

Jaci with Kate in the background, making the marks around the course

Jaci and Kate had another sailing lessons. They can now pretty much get anywhere they want to go and practiced righting the dinghy. When Michelle and I found them earlier in the day, they where in clear water flipping the boat over and over again … Jaci very comfortable in the water … so another milestone … I got asked if we could practice flipping their boat :)

 

 

Not being a tourist

Walking home at sunset

Walking home at sunset

When I was 19, I was very lucky to get a job that had me travelling. Within the first 3 months, I had a long 3+ week trip to Scotland … which I hated. Being a nerd, being shy and being awkward all combined to me spending all my time, either on the job, or sitting in my room watching the few channels that I could on TV. It made my 3 wk trip feel like 3 months. To be fair, I never got to see Scotland on that trip, I did get to see the room in my bed and breakfast.

Apparently the boat had a monkey infestation ...

Apparently the boat had a monkey infestation …

Arriving back at the house ...

Arriving back at the house …

On my next trip, I worked hard on going to dinner on my own, going to movies on my own, and just walking around … made time go a little smoother, yet it wasn’t much fun, I would say, it was very lonely … and an experience that I didn’t really look forward to … On my third trip, I went looking for things to do … things that I would do at “home” … so I spent most of my off time hanging out in marinas and boat yards, trying to visit every one I could. It was sort of a quest for me, you had to figure out how to get there (I usually had no car, as I was too young to rent one), get back, feed yourself, etc

Since I had an interest in boats, and I was around people with boats, conversation came easy … before you knew it, I was talking to people <g>, and I was getting involved. Usually it didn’t take long to get on a boat and go sailing … once they realized you had a passion for it, the rest was easy … I explored many countries this way, met some great people, sailed some interesting boats and got to know the place I was in … at least that community, which often led to other things … this has always stuck with me. I don’t want to be a tourist, I want to be part of the community. I want to be in the experience, not just witness it.

Learning a new combo at DanceSXM

Learning a new combo at DanceSXM

Ihndhira teaching Kate ... she studied in New York and Amsterdam ... danced her way through Europe before coming home to open her studio

Ihndhira teaching Kate … she studied in New York and Amsterdam … danced her way through Europe before coming home to open her studio

Dance studios look the same ... Kate liked the wood floor ... this studio is on top of a casino :) ... which apparently is where the parents hang-out while the kids dance.

Dance studios look the same … Kate liked the wood floor … this studio is on top of a casino :) … which apparently is where the parents hang-out while the kids dance.

As a family we try to keep the same approach and motto, be part of it, not just a witness to it. Here in St. Martin, we are meeting some very nice people, some by chance and some because of shared interests.

Kate has started dancing at DanceSXM, a dance studio here on the island. We spent a couple of days trying to find the different places (there are 2), we then tried to get in contact with them, which led to getting a meeting and then some lessons … Kate is now dancing twice a week and having a great time. The company at this studio performs every week at a local restaurant, they asked Kate if she would open for them on the next show … so tomorrow, Kate is dancing on stage, at Toppers, opening for DanceSXM.

The "Equestrian School" ...

The “Equestrian School” …

Looking where she is supposed to go ...

Looking where she is supposed to go …

Jaci on Mirage, getting back on the saddle :)

Jaci on Mirage, getting back on the saddle :)

Roman explaining to Jaci that she needs to be more relaxed and not so upright ... Jaci explained later that Ms. Karen says to do the opposite :) ...

Roman explaining to Jaci that she needs to be more relaxed and not so upright … Jaci explained later that Ms. Karen says to do the opposite :)

Maybe this is how Giraffe's evolved ...

Maybe this is how Giraffe’s evolved …

Jaci rode yesterday for the first time since leaving Florida, a little nervous, but did great. There are 3 “stables” on this island, 2 that cater to tourists; focusing on offering trail rides and beach rides … and one, that is more locals taking lessons. We found each of them (took a couple of days), and met Roman; who runs the Colombier Equestrian School. We got there a little early and watched a young French girl ride. Jaci was asked to help Anita (from Italy) to get the horses ready … within minutes, through a shared love, these girls who did not share a common language where smiling and laughing and tacking their horses. I had a large smile on my face when I watched her ride, with Anita from Italy, Carlos from Santo Domingo and Roman the instructor from France … just listening, I could hear 4 different languages all inter-mixed … truly awesome. We plan on riding twice a week.

Along with common loves, we are pursuing new ones … Kate and Jaci are taking sailing lessons from Neil (from the UK, reminds us of Louise’s friend Charlie) … they are having a great time and laughing a bunch. All 4 kids are taking tennis lessons, well, Kate and Jaci are learning to hit balls, while Jack and Genna are ball runners :)

Heading to lessons in the car ...

Heading to lessons in the car …

Waiting for lessons to start at the St. Maarten Yacht Club

Waiting for lessons to start at the St. Maarten Yacht Club

Neil teaching the girls how to sink a boat ... or is it right a boat :)

Neil teaching the girls how to sink a boat … or is it right a boat :)

This island is sucking us in … we are very much enjoying all our time here … the people, the place, the experience …

Fleet Addition

She did so well and felt so comfortable at the helm, stayed focus and paid attention to traffic and markers ... she'll be a real pro at this

She did so well and felt so comfortable at the helm, stayed focus and paid attention to traffic and markers … she’ll be a real pro at this

The fleet grows! We took possession of our new tender today. I figure since we are in a superyacht marina and we need to keep up with the crowd, we’d need to get a new support boat. While our others (the one that came with Discovery and the sailing one for the kids) are dinghies,the new one is a tender. This appears to be the name given to the boat that provides support to the yacht …

Jaci qualifying on the new tender. She did the entire trip, docking, at speed, through the bridges, outside the bay ... even paddling when we ran out of gas

Jaci qualifying on the new tender. She did the entire trip, docking, at speed, through the bridges, outside the bay … even paddling when we ran out of gas

Kate approves of the new fleet addition

Kate approves of the new fleet addition

Our new tender is 30ft and has a modern 30hp engine. Our yellow dinghy is a 10ft boat,also with a 30hp motor. The new boat is electric start, has a proper steering wheel and is much,much bigger, while 3 ft doesn’t sound like a lot, this boat is about 40% larger than the previous (longer and wider). It is more stable, much easier to drive, dryer and more comfortable for longer trips.

Our new addition to the fleet - the family tender (aka Michelle's boat)

Our new addition to the fleet – the family tender (aka Michelle’s boat)

We realized the previous day that we really needed a boat that Michelle (and the kids) could drive … when we got stuck outside of the broken bridge, Michelle didn’t feel comfortable making the long trip to get the kids in the yellow dinghy. Tiller steering of a “big” motor is tough and trying to pull start 30hp s not easy … so the new boat, our family car, meets all our requirements … it is Michelle’s SUV :) … funny how the kids get a new boat, Michelle gets a new boat, and I get the 10yr old beater, nothing changes.

Lights on, big smiles, held on tight, sun setting ... a great evening boat ride

Lights on, big smiles, held on tight, sun setting … a great evening boat ride

The new boat has a nice front platform, Genna tried it out and approved it as an excellent place to sit and snuggle

The new boat has a nice front platform, Genna tried it out and approved it as an excellent place to sit and snuggle

The afternoon that we got the boat, we all went for a ride out to Marigot Bay, about 8 miles there … Jaci drove the whole trip,truly looking very comfortable at the helm. We went out of the lagoon and headed to see the main Marigot waterfront … somehow the conversation of man-overboard came up, and I volunteered to demonstrate … stripped down to my boxers, which garnered a bunch of laughter (not sure I was comfortable with that), I “fell” in …

Stop laughing ... what I looked like after being rescued from "falling" overboard

Stop laughing … what I looked like after being rescued from “falling” overboard

Amongst the laughter, they went through the steps; 1. never, ever take your eyes of the swimmer. If you lose sight of them, you may never get it back. So a couple on board just pointed, and laughed. 2. The driver (Jaci), slowed the boat, and steered back to me. 3. Kate rigged the ladder (yes, our boat came with a boarding ladder), 4. Jaci brought the boar alongside and I climbed on board … as the sun was setting now, we headed back to Discovery.

All the pictures from the evening had smiles on them

All the pictures from the evening had smiles on them

Kate approves of the new fleet addition

Kate approves of the new fleet addition

Hanging out with mommy for the ride in the bay

Hanging out with mommy for the ride in the bay

We turned on our lights (boat has these) and ran the 8 miles back … about 300 yards from Discovery, the engine quit … turns out, I forgot to fill the boat … so now with 300 yards to go,we pulled out our paddles and made it the rest of the way … I tried to explain this was planned, so that we could do a full test of everything on the boat … but no one believed me.

Discovery amongst the bigger yachts... this is the view when we ran out of gas :)

Discovery amongst the bigger yachts… this is the view when we ran out of gas :)

Jaci having a turn at rowing

Jaci having a turn at rowing

Like any new boat, you need to test all the systems ... in this case, we ran out of gas about 300 yards from Discovery and had to row the rest of the way

Like any new boat, you need to test all the systems … in this case, we ran out of gas about 300 yards from Discovery and had to row the rest of the way

About 30 yards from Discovery, one of our superyacht neighbors decided to come over in his dinghy (the tender was up) and see if we needed help … he figured that with all the laughter and smiles everything was Ok, and turned back. We thanked him and kept paddling <g>.