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Imagine the swarm of flies that a 2-day bit of roadkill might have surrounding it. Now substitute ZTC for the deceased animal and Seadoos (personal watercraft) for the flies. You now have an idea of what the anchorage at Philipsburg, the capital of Dutch Sint Maarten, is like. And yes, I think the parallel is accurate! Why the people who rent these things don’t tell the tourists to not buzz close by the yachts at anchor is beyond me.

As usual we made an early-morning decision to move our boat, now having grown tired of life in Simpson Bay Lagoon. We made our rounds to all of our friends’ boats to say so long and made quick preparations to get underway. Our new windlass worked flawlessly, once I got the clutch figured out but our moving the boat was not without significant drama. I spoke before about how the bridge operators cajole boat captains into moving up very close to the yet-to-raise bridge. This morning was no different in this respect and we found ourselves at the front of the line for the 11:00 AM opening. The challenge was holding our position just off the bridge with a 15-25 knot breeze blowing us down onto it. Just as the bridge started to open we lost it and ended up almost beam to the bridge, being pushed closer and closer. The channel is narrow, we had rocks to our bow and stern with hardly any room to maneuver. Was I stressed? That is an understatement! I seriously thought we were about to total the boat. At the last second, with port engine full astern and starboard engine full ahead, I was able to spin the boat and get it aligned to safely transit the bridge. As we did the bridge tender yells sarcastically to RebeccaThank you very much.” It’s a good thing she told me that when we were a couple miles away… I so wanted to punch that guy in the face. If we’re ever put in a position like that again I will tell the operator of the bridge to $%#^ Off and that I’ll move our boat close when it’s safe to do so!

Anyway, that drama is now behind us and we’re here to enjoy Philipsburg for a couple of days, in spite of the swarms of flies, I mean Seadoos. Another day in paradise. 🙂


  1. We have those flies (seadoos) on the lake we sail on as well…all summer long. We have found the air horn in a can particularly effective in driving off the flies when they get particularly pesky. 🙂

  2. I love riding a seadoo – it’s like riding a motorcycle without the risk of road rash. But to annoy boats at anchor like these guys are doing gives the whole sport such a bad reputation. You’re right when you say that the rental companies need to give the renters strict instructions to stay away from mooring fields and anchorages. There should be penalties for those who don’t take heed.

  3. Speaking of flies, are there any of these attached to those SeaDoos?

  4. What is it with bridge tenders? I’ve had them yell at me for other boats not calling in, sleep through scheduled openings etc. Here in Ft Lauderdale they have taken to warning us not to go through until the bridge is fully open. I guess someone smacked into one. At least that’s better than what you’re dealing with, though I’ve had them tell me to get closer here too. Enjoy those 2 engines. My boat has such bad prop walk I would probably have had to try powering forward in the same situation.

  5. andy & sonja cru-zinacatamaran

    You sound a little P*^*d off, a relation of mine sorted one of those out, he casted a 2oz peace of lead with a big hook on it as if he was fishing, it went straight through the fiberglass body & hens the owner bugger off fast.

    • If it was only one guy I would have just talked to him (I did that in Rodney Bay). The problem here is that there was a dozen or more of them.

  6. When we were in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, the hotel rented Jet Skis out with absolutely no training. It’s an estuary there and there can be a pretty good current at times. One holiday weekend, two of the other cruising boats had Jet Skis crash into them as they misjudged the current, and one other had a Jet Ski hit their anchor chain. In all cases, there was more damage to the Jet Ski riders than the boat, but the boats definitely had some scrapes — and one had a fair amount of bottom paint taken off right at the waterline.

    Unfortunately, they like to ride in the same areas that we like to anchor.

  7. Mike –

    You could perform a real lasting service to the boating community by taking on the mission of gently educating those mentioned in this post.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to know that the bridge operator has little understanding and/or appreciation of what it’s like for someone trying to manage their boat in these situations. He may well be viewing boats as having the maneuverability of cars without any recognition of how wind & current come into play. As obvious as these things are to those with marine experience, most non-sailors have no idea.

    Similarly, it may be possible to encourage those renting those noxious jetski’s to have some pity on the anchored boats. If they knew of the discomfort they caused they may be willing to make the renters aware as part of their checkout procedure.

    Were you to take an afternoon to go personally visit with these people it may create some real changes.

    • Re: Jet skis: I was seriously tempted. There are multiple places renting them out though, all operated by VERY young men. I think it would be a tough day’s work and alas, we’re no longer there.

      Re: bridge: I am sure that operator has never operated a boat!. If he had he would have been a bit more sympathetic. I may be inspired to write a letter…

  8. I hate everyone who rides jet skis and ski doos and personal self-absorbed people craft. The ultimate ALL ABOUT ME vehicle. I lived in a beautiful house on a gorgeous lake in Maine. You’d think it would be pristine and quiet. It was. Loons singing, the little waves lapping at my dock. Then 7 am and ZOOM REEER REEEER REEEEEEEEEER REEEEEEEEEEER until dark. Every day there wasn’t ice. I hate these people.

  9. My son calls them bumble bees, at least when I am with him! He may have more pungent names for them at other times. He lives in Ft. Lauderdale, and often sails to Miami or the Keys. They are a problem all the time.

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