Sint Maarten – St. John, Virgin Islands
March 17th – April 26th, 2020
Well, well – what a difference a few weeks can make, right? I’m sure that for all of us, these are scary, uncertain times and I hope all who are reading this are safe and well. Lee and I are doing fine and probably in a safer environment than we would be at home, since these small Virgin Islands are taking this pandemic quite seriously and only a handful of cases have shown up on St. John where we are moored. So if you have read through all those old, tattered National Geographics and myriad books on those dusty shelves or your Kindle for which you have finally found the time, spend a few more wasted minutes here and let us get you up to date on Apogee’s most recent adventures.
We finally sailed out of Sint Maarten on March 19th , leaving before dawn to travel some 90 nautical miles (that’s about 104 land miles for you landlubbers), so we could get anchored in Tortola, British Virgin Islands before dark. Despite the length of the journey, the winds cooperated and it wasn’t a bad sail. We found out the next morning when Lee went in to check into the country that the BVI government had put the country on lockdown to visitors just the day before as we were sailing across. And they politely, but firmly, gave us an hour to get out of their country! So this was our first hint that our sailing journey was going to be a bit different from now on and not completely within our control. Luckily, we were only 15 miles from the US Virgin Islands and able to grab a mooring ball outside the town of Cruz Bay, St. John. Since home is a place where they have to take you in, we had no problems checking in with customs. And over a month later, this is where we still are – trying, as are you, to keep up with the sad news around the world of the havoc this disease is leaving in its wake.
We were lucky, because since these were still the early days of the lockdown, we were able to rent a car for a day and drive around to see the sights of St. John. This beautiful paradise is the least commercial of the three US Virgin Islands (the others being St. Thomas and St. Croix) because two – thirds of it is managed by the National Park Service. We drove by many fabulous (but closed, because of the virus) beaches and explored several ruins of sugar cane mills from centuries back. We were pleasantly surprised to see the grocery stores were well stocked (toilet paper! Lysol!) – much better than we had heard the situation to be back in Tennessee.
And since then, we have been anxiously watching the news, celebrating our virtual church services from home, swimming some – but basically “staying home” as are most of you. Because of the Caribbean island closures around us, we have slowly come to realize that instead of our leisurely island to island hop of a sail home, we instead will have to make a dreaded epic voyage of 1300 miles or so – about 9 – 12 days! This new awareness, if you have been reading this blog at all, is about as welcome to me as passing a kidney stone – giving a bath to a dozen cats with anger issues – cleaning a million clogged toilets – or even sitting through a “Presidential” corona virus press briefing!
But it has to be done – we have to get out of here and to a safer place for hurricane season that officially starts June 1st. And it’s time to be home, back in the land of the not-so-free and inexplicable toilet paper no shows.
So we are now waiting for the best weather window to start our journey and have teamed up with “Salty Dawgs” – a great group who are generously helping a huge group of sailors in the same “boat” get home safely. We are hoping for an early May departure to leave here and head toward the Chesapeake. And, while I realize there are many more urgent needs to be brought before our Creator during this chaotic time – could I humbly ask that you add to that prayer list a safe passage for the good ship Apogee and its fragile occupants? Thank you!
So, this Covid 19 – oh man! This is really bad stuff. But if there’s anything positive that can come from this nightmare of a pandemic, I hope it might be to bring out those “better angels of our nature” that Abraham Lincoln talked about. Now is a time to have a little more patience, a little more understanding, a lot more gratitude for those in the front lines and a whole lot more kindness than most of us might want to muster during this crazy time. This hurting world needs a gigantic group hug right now – and maybe we will all eventually figure out our own way to be some tiny part of that!
And that’s the end of my sermonette – y’all stay safe and well and we hope to see most of you – from a safe distance, of course! – very soon!