In the HOTSEATwith Veraguas
Sailor, Captain, Boat-Bar Owner
“My dad was a boat-builder and he had my brothers and me out in the water from a very young age,” says Stefan Veraguas, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale. Hailing from a family of sailors, it isn’t surprising that Stefan ended up following a career path as captain aboard a variety of boats.
When he first sailed into Caribbean waters 18 years ago, he was blown away by our little rock. Today Stefan, his brother Daniel and girlfriend Kristen have made Sint Maarten their home and hope to be part of the community through their new business and charity work.
JabJabs their bar was officially opened just a few weeks ago. It has been in the Veraguas family for many years, but instead of sailing her like they used to as kids; she is now geared up for more “adult” play with a fully stocked bar, live music and all the right party-vibes.
Why did you decide to move to Sint Maarten?
I loved Sint Maarten from the moment I set foot on it. Besides having all the obvious Caribbean assets – sea, sun, sand – it is a sailing hub and a fun island with a lot of things to do.
How did the idea for JabJabs come about?
My brother Daniel and I actually have wanted to work on a project together for a while. JabJabs has been in our family since I was 13 years old. We lived on her for a bit and used to sail her as a family. Five years ago, my dad told us he was selling her. Right away I called my brother. Willy T’s is a popular floating-boat-bar in the British Virgin Islands, and we thought: “This would be great for Sint Maarten too!” We bought JabJabs and started transforming her.
Tell us more about JabJabs and her transformation.
JabJabs is an 86-foot Sparkman Stevens, built in 1958 for a Duke in Amsterdam. Today she is still sea-worthy. After a few minor repairs, we sailed her down to Sint Maarten. Here we did all the construction to modify her into a bar. A lot of the rebar used for the railings and roof is actually from old causeway construction material! It took us three years to officially open her for business. This could have been done quicker with outside investments, but we wanted the business to stay between my brother and me. Today our hard work has paid off!
Who does what on JabJabs?
My brother is the main guy overseeing the construction; he is the welder, carpenter and all around handyman that made (and is still making) all the improvements to our floating-bar. Kristen is a trained chef and sommelier; she helps me behind the bar and logistics at the moment and will play a big part in getting our restaurant up and running. I am managing director and oversee everything else!
What were some of the reactions of your customers the first time they went on board JabJabs?
They loved it! We have been getting so much positive feedback, which of course makes us feel great and motivated in return. We have a fully-stocked bar, a wide variety of beer, $2 beer and $3 house-liquor happy hour from 5:00 to 7:00pm, free Wi-Fi, 360-degree views, fun vibes and live music events. You should come and check JabJabs out too!
What else are you adding to JabJabs in the coming months?
A few more lights, bar-appliances and we are aiming to open a restaurant aboard by this summer! It’s going to be a simple but mouth-watering menu of healthy, fresh choices. We also want to open for breakfast in high season; so that cruisers can enjoy a cup of coffee, read a paper and surf the web in the morning hours.
You mentioned that community is very important to everyone working on JabJabs?
Yes! We want to be part of the Sint Maarten community. First off, you would not believe how much gorgeous wildlife you can see in Kim Sha Bay; turtles, eagle-rays, tarpon, pelicans and more. So we want to make sure we are an eco-friendly boat that has minimal impact on the surrounding environment. We are adding solar panels as soon as we can, for example, to our boat and will limit (if not ban) the use of plastic.
We also hope to facilitate charity events. If any non-profits would like to hold an event such as a fundraiser aboard JabJabs, please contact us! We would love to be part of giving back to the community.
Do you have any exciting JabJabs events coming up?
YES! “Stell and Snuggs” is playing live aboard on May 21 from 5:00 till 8:00pm. Christel Astin and Jarad Astin use a wide variety of instruments to bring their audience on a musical journey. Their vocals and instrumentals enclose musical elements of Colombian Cumbia, Gypsy, Country, and Brazilian Choro.
How do people board JabJabs?
Of course if you have a dingy, you can easily tie up at our bar. If you don’t, you can swim OR just come to Kim Sha beach, you will see our blue tent and sign on the beach and we will give you a free ride over (and back). You can also call us at +1 (721) 523 8021 for a pickup.
What do you do when you’re not working on JabJabs?
Right now, honestly, almost all of our time is spent working on JabJabs! If I do have some time off, I love taking my dogs to the beach with Kristen.
If you could invite three people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve them?
Let’s assume our kitchen is already open on JabJabs, so we would all have dinner there! First would be Johnny Depp, as long as he dresses up as Captain Sparrow. I’d serve him a Dark & Stormy and Fish Tacos. I would also invite Ernest Hemingway and serve him a Whiskey and Smoked Marlin Dish. Last but not least, Bob Marley who would enjoy a glass of our Rum Punch while trying a plate of our Jerk Chicken with rice and peas.