We left Barbuda early in the morning. The wind was perfect and we had a very pleasant sail to St. Martin. We could not stay any longer in Barbuda as we were expecting guests for the famous Heineken regatta. So we had to be in St. Martin in time. Normally when we go sailing first thing is to reel out the fishingrods to see if we can catch any tuna! And yes! At 8 a.m. we were lucky! We caught a fish! 50 cm., 1.850-kilo TUNA! Good start to the day!
We arrived in Simpson Bay where already many boats were anchored that participated in the Heineken Regatta. We found a good spot to anchor and we went out to do all the check-in formalities first. Very easy at the office close to the bridge where the entrance is to the lagoon. After that, we went out to stock up. With many people on board, we needed a load of food, wine and spirits! At this point, there were some rumours going around about this Covid virus but nothing urgent at all. When our friends from Holland arrived we started to get more discussions and by that time we were getting worried a bit. We had booked a flight on March 13, 2020, to see Annieck for her birthday which is March 15. It would be a surprise for her. Our guests all left on March 8 and we were to decide what to do. We already made a booking in a marina in the Lagoon as we would leave for Holland for a few weeks. We decided to go there. We also needed the internet as we had some important business going on as. At some point, we read somewhere on the internet that it was expected that the island would completely shut down as this Covid virus was spreading like crazy. Also no traveling from and to the island. That was when we decided not to go back to see Annieck. Very sad but looking back the only good decision. As we had no idea how long this was going to take and hurricane season was our biggest concern. What if we could not go back to our boat? What if there would be a hurricane over St. Martin . No thank you. For Annieck it was no problem at all we would not be there to celebrate her 24th birthday. She was the first who said: stay at your boat! You are safer there as the pandemic started to develop seriously everywhere in the world. We hoarded the shops for our favourite wine and rum. And we stocked up food for at least a month. After that, we would see again what the situation would be.
We decided to leave the lagoon and get on anchor outside in Simpson Bay. If they would shut down the bridge for boats going in-and-out of the Lagoon there might not be a way to get out. We threw our anchor out in Simpson Bay. Man, that was nice! Clear blue water and looking out on the beach. Instead of the Lagoon where the water is dirty and black! We could now swim, we could walk, clean the boat! In fact the time passed by very quick. After about 3 weeks we started slowly to have dinghy drinks with friends. As we were not supposed to gather. To be honest we could not have had a better place to sit out this pandemic!
So, here we are! Locked up in Simpson Bay by COVID with at least a reasonable internet connection. But what did we do all day? Robbert is always busy with boat jobs to keep the systems running and cleaning the hulls! But also all kind of other things to do. Working on the website, writing posts, choosing pictures and edit them, taking pictures, making schedules, talk and drink with friends via whatsapp in The Netherlands. Do some shopping now and then. Try new recipes. For us it was not a punishment to sit on EIGHT. But at some point we started to get a bit nervous. Around beginning of May we had only one month before hurricane season officially started. Which does not say you immediately have a hurricane but anything could happen in these strange times … So we tried to get Bonaire. We preferred this island above Curaçao so we started emailing. Long story short. Nobody was allowed to enter the island. So a no go. We tried and tried. But NO! Then we thought of going to Curaçao. But they had these ridiculous rules. You could get permission to come to the island but you needed to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel of their choice. Of course all expensed on your account. Which for us with people should be around 3000 euro for 2 weeks …. They would put the boat on the hard. And when the quarantine finished you had to leave the island the next day! So also a NO GO! But then? We decided we would stay in St. Martin till the first of June. If we had no permission to go anywhere we would just leave for Bonaire. They are part of The Netherlands and they cannot refuse us to come as we have Dutch citizenship.
Where to go next?
In St. Martin we met Marco and Kitty from the Neel 45, Liquid Spirit. They wanted to go to Aruba. They have been there a few years now to leave the boat on the hard and go back to Holland. But they also did not get the permission to come. So Marco send a letter to the Dutch King! Long story short: they got the permission to go to Aruba! And with that they also started a project to see if more boats could come to Aruba. At arrival in Aruba you had to clear in and visit a doctor. The doctor would take your temperature and ask you questions and that was it! Then you had to go to the marina Varadero and stay on anchor in front of the office for 11 days. After Marco and Kitty left the island opened up for cruisers under mentioned rules. So we trew off the bowlines and we went to Aruba! By then we had decided to also put the boat on the hard and fly back to Holland. To finally see Annieck!
We did not seen anything of the island but the Dutch side of the Lagoon, Lagoonies, the Yacht Club at the bridge, the Carrefour for shopping and some Chinese supermarkets for the wine …. and of course Simpson Bay where we were anchored! But still happy we were in such a beautiful spot during the start of this awful pandemic.