The next day was Sunday. We discovered that there was a branch in Sint Maarten (Phillipsburg branch) and thought it would be a wonderful experience to attend church there. David was happy to accommodate us.
Pretty as a picture, isn't it?
David's plan was to take the dinghy and drop us off at the beach. He had given us very specific instructions about how and when to exit the dingy - most importantly to wait for his go ahead to jump out of the boat (remember what I said about the importance of following Captain's orders?). You see, the dinghy has a large keel which makes it impossible for David to actually take the boat up on the beach...if he did, it would tip over in the waves. So dropping us off was all about timing his approach just right.
We were part of the first four to make the trip from the catamaran to the beach. David cautiously approached the beach - waiting for just the right time to accelerate towards the shore. I realized then that I must have misunderstood his careful instructions because when he said, "Go, go, go!" I went! The last thing I heard as I leaped from the boat was, "No wait!" I landed on my feet in the shallow waves and immediately lost my balance, falling backwards into the water (keep in mind that I was fully dressed in church clothes). Wes (who had listened to the instructions like a good sailor) had exited at the appropriate time and was completely dry...until he had to come rescue me from my fall. He caught my hand just in time as the dinghy threatened to smother me and before I was completely submersed in the waves (He and Matt also had to enter the water to help David stabilize the dinghy which was at risk of tipping). Soaking wet and feeling like a fool, I turned to face David who in a stern and loud voice was saying, "You didn't wait for my order!!! Next time you must wait for my order!!!" Needless to say, it was a very embarrassing experience. Especially as I watched every other member of our group gracefully leap from the boat and remain completely dry. Ugh. I felt like a drowned rat.
The last thing David yelled to us as before he headed back to the catamaran was that he wouldn't be picking us at this beach. He wasn't about to attempt another beach landing! He would meet us at the pier in Marigot. I, for one, was relieved to hear this news!
Eventually we found a taxi and gave them the address, Orange Grove Road. We were delighted to see a tiny church with the familiar sign, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
We met the Sister missionaries as we entered the building and I am sure they were a little confused when they hugged me as I was still soaking wet from the neck down. We sat through a wonderful (and freezing!) sacrament meeting with the comfortable feeling that comes knowing our church is exactly the same everywhere in the world - even the tiny island of Sint Maarten! We met the branch president who told us there were about 200 members in the West Indies - with a 30-40% activity rate. There were several young American families in the branch that were attending the medical school on Sint Maarten. There was excited talk about organizing a temple trip - which sounded familiar enough until we learned that the nearest temple is in the Dominican Republic!
(You can see we are anxiously getting communications done while we have internet connection. We tried to access the WiFi thinking that maybe they had the same password as wards in the US but no success. Wouldn't that have been funny though?!)
This is a picture of their entire primary! The kids were darling.
I was still a little damp by the end of the meeting but no worse for wear.
At least I provided some entertainment and humor that would last for days! Anyway - we loved going to church!!
We took a taxi back to Marigot - shopped at the open air market, got another coconut shake at our favorite juice bar and enjoyed some delicious French pastries. As a peace offering for David I bought him a couple of baguettes and some macaroons. They were well-received and David told me that he wasn't angry with me - he was just concerned :-)
The dinghy was parked and ready to take us back to the catamaran. David had picked up some groceries while he was on shore.
(Side note: We asked David how he preferred us to pronounce his name - a very french sounding "Dawveed" or an American "Dayvid." He said he really didn't care how we said his name just as long as we didn't call him "Dave." I liked to use the French pronunciation!)
We spent the afternoon relaxing and catching some rays.
Since we had to stay anchored here for another night, David offered to take two couples at a time on a tour of the Simpson Bay Lagoon and to buy us some drinks.
First he stopped to refuel.
David told us many interesting things about the island and the culture of life aboard a ship.
I did not realize how many people live permanently - year round on boats. And some boats - like the ones below - are homes that are permanently anchored. They looked like ship wrecks and I guess people actually live there! Very interesting.
We stopped at a lovely marina (?) among some pretty amazing yachts and David bought us some drinks. It was nice to get to know him better and to learn about his extraordinary life!
We then headed back to the boat for a nice seafood dinner, dice games (aka Farkle or 5,000) and great conversation!
I wanted to include these pictures of the charting table. David's GPS system was having problems so he charted his course the old fashioned way - log book, map, compass, rulers, and other tools. It wasn't really necessary because the islands are in sight at all times but it was a good learning experience for the guys!
-Ramen noodle lunch
-Plantains with custard
-Weston's amazing Farkle come-back only to lose to Reid
-Naked guy on a boat in Cole Bay (the first of the many nude sightings we would have during the week!)
-Pan au chocolat