Rush Hour On The Coastal Freeway

Trip Start Oct 09, 2011
Trip End Dec 21, 2011

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Grandeur of the Seas

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday, November 8 2011 - Day 10

Philipsburg, Capital of Dutch St. Maarten

So now we have crossed the Atlantic at an average speed of 19.2 knots in five full days at sea. The voyage was as slick and smooth as a tropical dream.   As glossy and picturesque as a National Geographic spread.  It took Columbus five weeks to sail to the Americas from the Canary Islands.  Ever since that monumental maiden voyage, countless vessels have sailed all kinds of routes across.  The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed.  Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed rather than passage time because ships follow different routes.  Traditionally, a ship is considered a "record breaker" if it wins the eastbound speed record, but is not credited with the Blue Riband unless it wins the more difficult westbound record against the Gulf Stream.  Since 1952 that honour has belonged to the U.S., a Passenger liner that sailed from east to west in three days, ten hours and 40 minutes.

Many fearless sailors have ventured across the Atlantic with a dream.  One was Charlie Barr, who became a legend in 1905 when he set the record for the fastest crossing on a sailing yacht.  More recently Franck Cammas and his crew beat the record in 4 days, 3 hours, 57 minutes and 54 seconds.  Then of course, there's Katie Spotz, the youngest person to cross the Atlantic by herself - in a rowboat!

Before St. Maarten became a destination for cruisers, the island was known for its must-have ingredient.  Salt!  Back in the 17th century, Dutch settlers started harvesting salt from Great Salt Pond and sending shiploads back to Europe. 

Today the island is split in half between France and the Netherlands Antilles.  Other than the island’s name (spelled Saint-Martin on the French half), both sides are quite unique.  As we arrived in Philipsburg, the capital, we immediately noticed the Dutch influences dating back to colonial times.  We wandered down narrow alleyways past pastel-coloured houses, perfectly intact with their second-story verandas and courtyards filled with flowers.  We Spent the day exploring the unique boutiques on front Street and stopped for a cerveza to cool down because we were at the boiling point.  St Maarten is a lovely, upscale port that is well endowed to accommodate thousands of cruise passengers.  And they were there – four ships in a row, like bicycles in a rack, including Norwegian Cruise Lines new mega, the Epic, with a passenger capacity of 4,100.  Next was a Disney ship and beside the Grandeur was the P & O Azura.  Rush hour on St. Maarten’s coastal freeway. 

During our rest under the shady palms we were joined by Michael and Lesley from Australia.  An interesting couple we met three days before at an impromptu meeting that was hosted by a fellow named Paul Six.  Paul Six sat at our table at breakfast one morning and seemed unusually knowledgeable about all topics covered during conversation; in fact he was so interesting that I asked him what he did for a living.  He replied, 'you had to ask, didn’t you?  Are you sure you really want to know?”  Well of course an answer like that only leads to the conclusion, Yes! I really want to know!  So he told us.  ‘I’m an International Astrologer,’ he said.  At that point he reminded me absolutely of Henry Morgan, the serious comedian on the old Laugh In Show – so I didn’t know whether he was joking or not.  What the heck is an International Astrologer?   He said he had made a video while he was in Bali that made it easier to understand what he did, and he invited us to see it.  We agreed.  Here’s his website, go ahead, take a look:

It was at our meeting with Paul Six that we learned about aspects of inner space, of body maps and inner solar systems – this is his signature:

Astrology is not about stars far out in space. It is about the solar system inside us and the cosmic energies that flow through us. It is these energies that give us the power to live our lives from the inside out.

Food for thought for sure but I confess we were no smarter when it was over.  During a general conversation after Paul’s video though, Lesley and other people present started talking about ‘sixth sense’ things that have happened to them, both long ago and recently.  Meanwhile, Richard was chatting with Lesley’s husband, Michael.  Michael said he had written a book about how to succeed in business in Australia and offered him a copy.  Said he would deliver it to our door later that morning.  Hmmm, sounded a little weird – free book, why us, what’s the catch, and all.  Shortly after we entered our cabin there was a knock at the door.   Our brand new copy of ‘Contemplate your Business Navel’ had arrived.  It’s a remarkable book written by a remarkable man.  Astrology, authors, extrasensory powers - Is our world filled with remarkable people?  It is!  Thank goodness we’ve had an opportunity to meet a few.

Here is the link to Michael Burdette’s book:

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