As I ran Andrew, our autopilot expert, out to his next boat which meant leaving the lagoon, under the bridge out into Simpson Bay he casually mentioned that he and his wife Lyn were planning to fly over to Anguilla for Sunday jazz at Johnno’s on the beach and might we fancy coming along. We fancied!
Our last small plane flight, a DeHaviland Beaver float plane, was from Friday Harbor to Lake Union in downtown Seattle, with several stops in between. There were seven adults, some full figured, stuffed into that plane. Quite a thrill. This promised to be a rare chance for us to see this paradise from something other than sea level. We were really buzzed about the trip.
I grew up around small planes so I have a lot of happy memories associated with them. Andrew emailed our instructions to bring a swim suit, sun screen, passports, water and a camera and show up at the yacht club at 10:30am. We were ready.
First there was the car ride in which we felt like we were hurtling around the mountainious roads of St Martin, but we knew it was only the “boat effect” again. When you travel by dinghy you only learn isolated pockets of an Island with no information to tie anything together, so we kept saying oh this connects to there. Andrew and Lyn kept up a constant patter of where to go for what. This sort of local knowledge is like gold when you don’t have time to find out for yourselves.
It was obvious that we weren’t heading toward the main airport because when he parked the car on a narrow oil and chip country road we piled out nowhere near anything resembling a bustling airport.
Next came the serious business of filing a flight plan, clearing out of St Martin, customs, and I don’t know what else. This was an international flight after all, even though we would only cover about six miles of ocean. We watched as Andrew and Lyn went through the extensive preflight checklist, as a team. Boating is easier.
Their friend Rob, whose Cessna is parked next to Andrew’s was also going to fly over for jazz on the beach and was duplicating the same preflight checklist on his plane.
Lots of radio chatter, mostly numbers, and with the engine roaring, in what felt like 300 feet we were off the ground. Slip sliding this way and then that with small deft movements of the controls Andrew checked the Cessna’s desire to wander and soon we settled down to a beautiful tour at 1000 feet of the magnificent surrounding Islands.
More chattering numbers over the radio and we landed and parked at Anguilla airport, cabbed it to Johnno’s and it is indeed fifty feet from the brilliant turquoise waters of Road Bay on the most beautiful crescent-shaped powdery sugar white beach, Johnno’s is open air and the music had already started. Dos Presidentes, por favor!
The beach dogs or coconut hounds had already started gathering in the hopes of a handout. Music was spontaneous and fun and the water was sensational at the breaks.
The return flight back to St Martin was done so quickly that it was hard to believe. Marce flew back with Rob to keep him company.
We rolled to a stop, hopped out and helped cover and tie down the planes. We wanted to celebrate a great day the Schulz way, with ice cream. Andrew and Lyn knew just where to go, the Carousel Gelato, a place we’d passed a dozen times but never noticed. It was a great capper to wonderful day.