The yacht which we sailed to St. Maarten was called the Mystery. It was a 40 foot Beneteau which made up part of the fleet of ships belonging to Ondeck Antigua. Before we left the Antiguan port of English Harbour, we were given a quick tour of the vessel. This tour was conducted by Joe, a voluntary crew member and it was very informative, helping to put two first time sailors at ease.
The boat had a decent sized living room area, complete with a table and two sofas. There were three cabins onboard, one forward cabin and two aft cabins. Although they looked small, they appeared to be comfortable with soft mattresses and thick bed sheets. In each cabin, there were small closets and cupboards to store small items and documents.
The bathroom was small but functional, and using it was definitely a battle. I did get a few bruises, but that's all part of the deal. There was a small kitchen onboard, complete with a tiny stove and a sink. Food was stored in small compartments close by, and a few dishes, cups and cutlery were washed and stored in the sink.
While the crew started to make preparations to leave, we were taken to the deck for a safety briefing. We were told that once the ship is moving, to always secure three points of contact with the vessel. For example, two feet on the floor, and one hand on the railing. This was to help prevent us from falling overboard in the event of rough seas.
We sailed out of Antigua at around 7:30 pm, with the intentions of arriving at Simpson Bay, St. Maarten in time for the 9am bridge. The wind was quite high, and the yacht cut through the waves at a decent pace. I had to wear a waterproof jumper and a matching jacket to sit on the deck, complete with a life jacket. Not the most flattering of outfits I've ever worn, but extremely necessary none the less.
We were shown how to steer and helped the crew to sail, plus taking shifts to keep watch. For a first timer, the experience was beyond thrilling, and I had several bouts of adrenaline rushing through my system when the boat lurched unexpectedly.
The night passed by quickly enough with the help of coffee, and within 10 hours of leaving Antigua, we arrived at St. Maarten. Docking the yacht proved to be quite a task however, because even though we made the 9am bridge, we had a difficult time finding a space to dock in the marina. We spent at least 45 minutes waiting for assistance before we were successful.
Finally, everything was set, and the Captain hurried away to clear us with immigration. I completed my very first international sailing trip, and it was an adventure of a lifetime. St. Maarten is only 20 minutes from Antigua by air, but the 10 hour boat trip was worth it!