A sea-and-island idyll

Personal Journeys

A Memorable PlaceThere are three...

September 06, 1998|By Robert Lidston | Robert Lidston,Special to the sun

A sea-and-island idyll; A Memorable Place

There are three things that float on the water," growled Capt. Neil Carmichael as we stood on the deck of the four-masted Polynesia anchored in Phillipsburg Harbor on the island of St. Maarten. "Boats!" (He gestured at nearby small sailboats.) "Ships!" (He gestured at our schooner.) "And pieces of feces!" (He pointed to a nearby cruise ship but used a more common word than feces.) Thus began last summer's Windjammer Barefoot adventure for my wife, our 14-year-old son and me.

A few hours later we were among the volunteers who helped hoist the sails while "Amazing Grace" (penned by a once-dissolute Scotsman home from the sea) wailed on recorded bagpipes. We couldn't escape our connection to the elements as, sails stretching before the wind, the leviathan began to push forward through the waves.

At Anguilla we dove off the ship's plank into Crocus Bay. On St. Kitts my son grew when our rain-forest hike guide sent him ahead up a sometimes jungle-encased, 800-foot ridge to show our straggling hiking group it could be climbed. In the meantime, my wife snorkeled along a reef, exploring an 18th-century shipwreck. Looking up out of the water, she gazed into the beak of a pelican who, unstartled, saw just another sea animal.

Sleeping on the open deck beneath the distended sails as the Polynesia cut through the Caribbean from Nevis to St. Barts, I awoke at 4 a.m. and looked up at more stars than I had ever seen. The view and the trip's other liberating experiences - no suits and ties, no telephones and TVs - brought me near tears. They also brought me closer to the natural world and my fellow travelers.

On St. Barts our teen-ager laughed unabashedly with his parents as we jeeped up and down narrow goat paths to unspoiled beaches with unbelievable views and ate cheeseburgers in this paradise at LeSelect, the bar where Jimmy Buffett wrote the song. The next day, back on St. Maarten and dreading the plane to reality, I had to flee the air-conditioned tourist shop where my wife looked at Lladro porcelains and other things no one really needs. She was no less affected by the trip than I, but was wise enough to balance the real and the ideal.

Under my gray suits and starched white shirts, the multicolored friendship bracelet tied on my wrist at St. Kitts still takes me back to our idyll.

Best of all, the three of us are going back, on a sister sailing ship to other Caribbean islands, most of which we have never even heard of. We can't wait for another trip that may turn from an adventure to an experience.

Robert Lidston lives in Cockeysville.

Eagles Mere, Pa.

Anne B. Hackney, Upperco

"It's the town that time forgot, a lovely mountaintop lake with sailing, canoeing, fishing, hiking and biking paths. A great place for families. The athletic association has many activities for all ages, as does the conservancy."

Acadia National Park

David J. Smith, Parkville

"Recently, my wife, 4-year-old son and I spent 2 1/2 weeks camping there as well as in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. For our son, the most exciting parts included going on the Confederation Bridge (which connects New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island); visiting Cavendish, the Prince Edward Island setting for 'Anne of Green Gables'; and taking 'The Cat,' North America's fastest car ferry, from Nova Scotia to Maine."

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your memories, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* Tell us about your travels. Our current question: What was your most memorable vacation adventure - either planned or impromptu? Please answer in 50 words or less.

* In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150)

* Give us your best shot - a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. Include your name and phone number along with the print. (Cash value: $50)

* Just back from - in 50 words or less, tell us where you've recently visited and what tips you can pass along about your trip to other readers.

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned.

Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

Pub Date: 9/06/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.