“Je m’epelle Jean, je suis un pamplemousse.”

The view from Fort Louis of Marigot Bay. Discovery is at the marina just to the right of the picture (you can see the marina breakwater).

The view from Fort Louis of Marigot Bay. Discovery is at the marina just to the right of the picture (you can see the marina breakwater).

We have officially left Sint Maarten and our now in St. Martin <g> … while we’ve been exploring the island for several months, we have spent the majority of our time on the Dutch side. Last week the great people at the marina told us that high season was upon us and that we would have to move from the “mega yacht” area, to the “yacht” area … no big deal, just a relocate. We decided that we would take this opportunity to change our scenery for a little while and move to the French side.

Discovery on a mooring ball in Long Bay. One of our favorite day stops ... although the resort is now open and has lots of people on the beach.

Discovery on a mooring ball in Long Bay. One of our favorite day stops … although the resort is now open and has lots of people on the beach.

My buddy in the hammock.

My buddy in the hammock.

Shaun and Jack out sailing in the bay. Jenny is ashore with the girls ... great SA couple we met here.

Shaun and Jack out sailing in the bay. Jenny is ashore with the girls … great SA couple we met here.

We dropped anchor in Marigot Bay and after a couple of days decided to move into the Fort Louis Marina. Imagine my surprise when I was asked for my boat papers and proof that I had left “officially” the Dutch side … huh? Well it turns out, that while people can come and go between sides as they please, boats are a different story … so off we went to the Dutch side to “check-out”, so that we could “check-in” to the French side … stamps, fees, passports and forms later … we are officially living on the French side.

As you can tell from my title, the goal is to practice our French, mine is a little rusty, but my greeting always seems to get a smile or laughter … I think the many years of Canadian schooling is paying off.

Kate taking her written exam for her scuba ticket. She now has 8+ dives.

Kate taking her written exam for her scuba ticket. She now has 8+ dives.

Our new crew ... Shark Bait, aka, Calypso. He is an island rescue that is now the security on Discovery. Great cat.

Our new crew … Shark Bait, aka, Calypso. He is an island rescue that is now the security on Discovery. Great cat.

One of my favorite things so far about this trip is that it has awoken an interest in the kids to learn another language. While they have always been exposed to other languages (Spanish, French, German), none showed any real want to learn … I guess, none really saw a value or need for it.

Early at the stables and waiting for the show to start.

Early at the stables and waiting for the show to start.

Here, especially on the French side, we are immersed in languages … Kate is doing an online course and spends several hours a day on French, she is getting much better at “trying” her French when we go out. Genna has found the French music CD’s that we brought with us (Thank you to our French connections <bg>) and is singing in French all the time (although I am not sure that a song about a Moose is going to pay off) … Jaci is also learning French and since she rides twice a week in a French school, she know all the vocabulary of the horse world … this all learned by osmosis.

Kate doing her French lessons

Kate doing her French lessons

Me … well … I’m trying to get those rarely used neurons to fire and see if I can recall some of my French lessons … I am surprised as to how much I remember and how much of a conversation I can follow. At the horse stables, they speak in French, I answer in English (mostly) and we communicate effectively.

Heading out for a Halloween dive trip. Jenny, Jack, Jaci and Chel snorkeled some ... Kate, Shaun and myself did a night dive in costumes. The local dive shops had setup skeletons and other "haunted house" items underwater ... lots of fun.

Heading out for a Halloween dive trip. Jenny, Jack, Jaci and Chel snorkeled some … Kate, Shaun and myself did a night dive in costumes. The local dive shops had setup skeletons and other “haunted house” items underwater … lots of fun.

Jack … hmm … maybe I need to get some French video games.

Michelle is out jogging each morning in town and going to the bakeries and shops. We are enjoying the “café” lifestyle that we have found on this side.

Jaci riding Mirage at the St. Martin horse show. About 25 kids, 8 from the island of St. Barts.

Jaci riding Mirage at the St. Martin horse show. About 25 kids, 8 from the island of St. Barts.

Jackman working on some cunning plan. We spent the day at the stables for a horse show ... tons of fun.

Jackman working on some cunning plan. We spent the day at the stables for a horse show … tons of fun.

Jaci working on her photography skills ...

Jaci working on her photography skills …

Discovery continues to undergo upgrades … or better said, things constantly need maintenance … we now have a new fridge, 80% larger than our last one and a new freezer (that I have yet to install). I’ll go into details in another post.

Shaun and Jenny on Takapuna. Jenny was the stew (Stewardess) and Shaun the engineer. Takapuna is at 110ft+  and was once owned by Billy Connelly. She's going out for a quick daysail.

Shaun and Jenny on Takapuna. Jenny was the stew (Stewardess) and Shaun the engineer. Takapuna is at 110ft+ and was once owned by Billy Connelly. She’s going out for a quick daysail.

Took the dinghy to this wreck, lying in 20ft of water ...

Took the dinghy to this wreck, lying in 20ft of water …

Shaun and Jaci (the speed freak) enjoying the afternoon in Phillipsburg

Shaun and Jaci (the speed freak) enjoying the afternoon in Phillipsburg

Today is a work day and a shopping day … so everyone has their tasks … Jaci made me a nice lunch today.

Another world

Certified PADI scuba diver

Certified PADI scuba diver

The last couple of weeks have been great, busy and filled with new experiences. My parents came to visit for 2 weeks, which meant we had a great time with a full boat … our little 2 car garage had 5 adults (Kelly/Anna with us also) and 4 kids. This morning is a little sad, Anna left on Monday to head back to college in Germany and Abuelo and Abuela headed back to Canada.

3 Generations of Alonso's getting ready for the water.

3 Generations of Alonso’s getting ready for the water.

We watched a few of these guys swimming around ... he was about 30cm long.

We watched a few of these guys swimming around … he was about 30cm long.

Jaci on snuba ... she and I shared a tank that floated in a little boat on the surface.We each had a 50 ft hose that connected us to it. Jaci is too young to get certified :(.

Jaci on snuba … she and I shared a tank that floated in a little boat on the surface.We each had a 50 ft hose that connected us to it. Jaci is too young to get certified :(.

Modeling my gear ...maybe I missed my calling :)

Modeling my gear …maybe I missed my calling :)

As always we spent a bunch of time in the water, maybe more than normal in the last couple of weeks as Kate was working on her scuba certification and we all joined in on the fun. Kate completed her last 2 open water dives on Friday … she is now, officially a certified diver.

First time breathing underwater for Kelly

First time breathing underwater for Kelly

Can you spot the 250yr old anchor?

Can you spot the 250yr old anchor?

Getting ready for her deep water (45-50ft) dive.

Getting ready for her deep water (45-50ft) dive.

Her teacher, Alfredo is from Peru, speaks decent English but with a heavy accent and a smallish vocabulary. He used to be a Special Forces diver in the Peruvian Navy, small, stockish built guy, with a quick smile. He explained that he felt much more comfortable in the water than on land …and watching him with Kate … I’d have to agree.

For Kate’s first dive, a bunch of the family joined her … Kelly did a “discovery dive” with full scuba equipment (her and Kate’s first time). Jaci and I did snuba, like scuba, but we had a hose connected to a surface tank, instead of carrying the tank with us. Michelle and my dad snorkeled … yep, 75 and still at it … 3 generations of Alonso’s in the water.

Michelle found an octopus in about 10ft of water … this is incredibly rare, in the 15 yrs of diving, we’ve never seen one in the wild … he was big and very well camouflaged. Everyone got to see him. We also saw a few squid swimming around … also very cool.

Our morning and lunch stop. We are in about 10 ft of water, the resort ashore (La Samana) is currently closed, so very few people around.

Our morning and lunch stop. We are in about 10 ft of water, the resort ashore (La Samana) is currently closed, so very few people around.

Jack is extremely happy with his "speedo" ... he likes wearing it ... I think he is pulling it off.

Jack is extremely happy with his “speedo” … he likes wearing it … I think he is pulling it off.

Just beside Rouge Bay, our afternoon stop, we snorkeled by the rocks, even swam through an arch ... we will explore the caves next time ... beach is only accessible from the water.

Just beside Rouge Bay, our afternoon stop, we snorkeled by the rocks, even swam through an arch … we will explore the caves next time … beach is only accessible from the water.

Scuba Anna ... first time breathing underwater ... Kate had to explain later that she was not doing the "Ok" sign :)

Scuba Anna … first time breathing underwater … Kate had to explain later that she was not doing the “Ok” sign :)

Kate’s second dive (which I joined as a snorkeler) was about teaching her skills. Alfredo explain very little on the boat, which made me a little nervous … basically, “Just watch me, I’ll explain” is what he said … then they both went into the water. Headed to the bottom in about 15ft. I watched as he explained using sign language and gesture what to do, how, why and when … wow… what a great teacher … no spoken language, yet Kate got 10+ different skills and demonstrated them … very impressed.

We came back a couple of days later to finish her certification with 2 more open water dives … the first at a reef about 4 miles offshore in about 45ft of water … it was a little bumpy and you could tell Kate was nervous and unsure … deeper, no land nearby and waves … all 3 of us got in the water, and I followed with my scuba gear on.

A wonderful dive, made even better by a visit from a couple of sharks … when I saw him (why are sharks to me always hims?), I worried what Kate would do … when she saw him, her eyes got big, then settled, then she started following and swimming after him … he was so cool, and as she tells, the highlight of her dive.

Me and a couple of my girls, just hanging out ...

Me and a couple of my girls, just hanging out …

Over the weekend, we took Discovery around the eastern end of the island and stopped in a couple of place to snorkel and swim. We got the dive gear out of the locker and rigged our 3 sets … the water was at most 12ft, so Jaci, Kate and I dove around for about 45 minutes … Jaci, like Kate is a natural underwater. She did great, even using Michelle’s gear which is a little large for her.

We got back to the boat, I rigged new tanks and gave Anna a “crash course” on using the equipment, I asked Kate to teach her and Jaci some skills and got them in the water … all 3 girls stayed under for about 30 minutes, around the boat … it was Anna’s first time :) … In case you are judging me, I was being responsible, I would look over the side and check for bubbles, I figured if they stopped, I’d put down my beer and go get them :).

The world under the water is a truly like another world … It makes me understand more the need and interest in exploring other worlds … I wonder if we should start working on an Alonso space ship.