Want to sail off into the sunset? You can do that in St. Maarten. I got the sailing bug recently while in St. Maarten, and Eugene Durand, activity director at Divi Little Bay, had just the antidote: an evening excursion on Passaat’s classic schooner. I happily found myself on a gaff-rigged sailing schooner, captained and owned by Pieter Bakker, a Dutchman who’s been plying the Caribbean waters for 22 years. Marian Ebbers, his partner, met me at the dock at Simpson Bay and welcomed me on board. She has a degree in hotel management, so you know you’re in for some fine hospitality.
As you’re sailing away from the harbor, ask Captain Bakker to give you the history of the ship, which was built in Holland in the early 1900s. The Passaat has had a colorful life, serving in the war and as a training vessel, long-term charter ship and fishing boat. Though she’s hardly retired after a century of work, she’s settled into a nice life in the Caribbean delighting vacationers.
Passaat, which means “trade winds” in Dutch, does a sunset sail every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 5:30 to 7:30. Price is $39 for adults and includes an open bar and snacks. Children of all ages are welcome; for those aged 4-12, the price is $15.
Now here’s a fine piece of timing: Valentine’s Day 2014 just happens to be a Friday. It also happens to be a full moon. Sail away this Valentine’s Day and you’ll be giving someone the sun, the moon and the stars.
Did you know that every full moon has a name? The names date back to the Native Americans, who kept track of the seasons by distinguishing each moon. Since the heaviest snow usually falls during February (no wonder you’re headed to St. Maarten then), native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes referred to it as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions made hunting difficult.
But, you can call it whatever you want as you are sailing under it next Valentine’s Day in St. Maarten.
Eugene Durand is in the Activities Office located in the Divi Shops and she will make reservations for a sail, as well as transportation to and from Simpson Bay.