"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Dutch Captain in a French Port Livng the American Dream - Caribbean Winter Retreat - Day 7

January 1st, 2009 Happy New Year! Captain Paul has got it made. A great job, a beautiful wife, the body of a 25-year-old (he's well into his 40's) and healthy disgust for the French. Captain Paul was our guide today in our third and last port of call, St. Maarten, as we headed out for a day-long snorkeling adventure that would take us to three different locations. Evelyn chose to sit (or should we stay "shop") this excursion out, so it was just us and who Ashlee refers to as "that boy-kid." After sorting out who our driver was from the melee that was the cabbie/bus/tour stand near the port (geez, what a circus!), we were off to the French side of St. Maarten Island which is split evenly between them and the Dutch who lay claim to the port where we were docked. The waters of St. Maarten were by far the loveliest so far we had seen and the French side is a bit more tranquil and serene and as Paul says, "the French chose the best spots - the bastards." Paul is captain of the Awesome Too, a beautiful 30' powerboat which offers small charters in St. Maarten which we highly recommend. You can find information on his tours at http://stmaartencruiseexcursions.com/StMaartenIslandSnorkeling.htm. Our first stop after a 30-minute ride out of the quiet marina and into the "real ocean" was off the shore of tiny Tintamar Island. After our first snorkel we swam to the beach and Captain Paul invited us to partake in a mudbath he concocted of volcanic ash on the island which he guaranteed would take ten years off - did we mention he looked very young for his age - so we were sold. This "mud" was actually a very strong cleansing and exfoliating agent and felt amazing on our skin. After letting the sun bake it dry it was back into the ocean for an exhilarating cleansing that left your skin smooth and silky not to mention the water seeming colder thanks to all those open pores. We motored another five minutes to Penal Island enjoying cold Carib Beer on the way for our second snorkel. Here we were able to hand-feed the friendly (and anxious) fish soft bread. Amazing! Again, the water was crystal clear and we enjoyed some of the best snorkeling we have ever done. Another five-minute ride with a slight detour past a nude beach (no binoculars were provided unfortunately) and some more Caribs brought us to Green Key. Saving the best for last, this late-afternoon snorkel was amazing with incredibly beautiful coral lit by the sun's rays and some larger sea life as Ashlee saw a pretty big lobster and Rob spied a sea turtle thanks to Captain Paul sharp eyes. We motored back to the dock afterwards with more cold Caribs and good music playing on the stereo. Man, what a great way to spend the first day of 2009! This was mutually agreed upon to be our best excursion of the cruise and St. Maarten definitely makes our list of places we want to come back to if we get the chance.


Craig said...

Couple of questions: Is it ecologically acceptable to feed the fish bread? And is that boat in the picture just floating out there by itself or is there someone snorkeling nearby?

Rob and Ashlee said...

The captain and his wife said that the fish near Penal Island had been fed there for years because it's close to a popular beach that you can snorkel from as well. He would not allow us to feed fish in the third spot, Green Key, since the fish there were not conditioned for it. No one is snorkeling yet in the picture. I took it when we first pulled up to the area. The little boat was just tied up there and belonged to a local I assume.