Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sint Maarten

March 3rd 2014
18 02 N 63 05 W

Hi All,
well this is the second time here, the first time was last year on our way up through the Caribbean, we only stayed a few days, we were in the Marina at Simpson Bay almost in the same dock.

All over the Virgin Isles we kept seeing turtles but every time we saw them the camera was not at hand and even when it was we only ever ended up with ripples on the surface so this is what I managed to get.

We sailed down from Virgin Gorda when the wind finally dropped to a more manageable level. Although it was pretty much "on the nose" we had to tack I don't remember how many times and did 129 miles, although as the crow flies its a little over 80 so 26 hours later we just made the bridge opening with about 20 minutes to spare for the 11 o'clock inbound opening. We dropped the anchor, took the dinghy off the deck and went to check in and pay the fees. So passports stamped and back to the boat for a rest. Its a really calm anchorage except when the "boys" race about in dinghies making us rock about.
The anchorage is huge, on one side is another new swing bridge, run by the French apparently it only came into service around a month ago, its very pretty when its lit up at night but I heard on the radio they are having serous problems when they try to close it. Oh well it must be under warranty, I hope.

So after a couple of days at anchor we had to come into the marina as Don had to fly back to the UK, sad news his Mom passed away so he had to deal with the house and his Moms affairs.
The watermaker had packed in so the safest thing to do was to come to the marina and I don't have to raise the dinghy and engine myself.

St Maarten one side Dutch and the other French, its not a huge island in fact
is the smallest land mass in the world to be shared by two sovereign nations, France and the Netherlands. Of the island’s 37 sq. miles, 20.5 are on the French Side and 16.5 on the Dutch.
The official languages are Dutch, French and English but there are over 100 nationalities on the island so you can hear anything from French Creole to Spanish which I managed to use myself and  to Cantonese to Hindi.
The island is 9.3 miles in length and 8 miles at its widest with its highest point on the island is Pic Paradis (Paradise Peak) on the French Side at 1,392 ft. Simpson Bay Lagoon is the largest in the Caribbean and the island is blessed with 37 beaches mind you some weren't that good from what I saw.

Both of these are at Mullet Bay just beyond the airport.

This is very close to the beach, if you look on youtube you will see the planes coming in so low over the beach its unbelievable
The Dutch side the currency are Netherland Guilders and on the French the Euro. However both accept US $, its as well really as when I went to the French side I forgot to take Euros and the dollars were taken.
The marina is quite close to the shops, restaurants, bars and its easy to flag down a bus going in either direction, Marigot on the French side and Philipsburg on the Dutch both are the  Capitals. The airport is a few miles from the marina and its all flat so we decided to walk, BIG MISTAKE!  not only was it hot but the whole place is let down by the lack of pavements, just dirt at the side of the road and most have puddles, needless to say, I caught a cab back.
I found my way around on the busses are quite cheap mostly 1.5 $ to go anywhere.
Its a shame this place doesn't use the money taken from tourism to do something about open drains and uncovered  waste bins.
The bonus is its duty free and the big towns sell electrical items quite cheaply

The Guavaberry rum emporium
He must have been sampling the rum, he couldn't even hold his head up

Which way?

As our small camera decided to pack in I took a trip to Philipsburg and bought a new waterproof camera which I can slip into a pocket.
Don promised that if we managed to unload some things we don't use like the bikes and spare lifejackets I could buy a blender which crushes ice. So
thats what I bought, Don loves frozen drinks and now I can make a frozen Margarita's, Lime and coconut, (my favourite) and Pina Colada, I will try my best to practice more soon, promise! The only trouble is if you drink them too quick you get brain freeze, ouch.

A nice little alley in Philipsburg

I popped into a tiny museum in Philipsburg there wasn't too much to see

Something is not quite right though, food is not exactly cheap to buy, some is and others ok, I picked up an "organic" lettuce and almost fainted when I checked the price 9 $, so I put it back very carefully and bought a bottle of Mount Gay rum for 8.99 $, no contest eh!

Marigot open market it was a windy day

The dinghy dock at Marigot next to the town and anchorage

Marigot Fort

Depicting the ladies from the local market

The muriel on the beachfront

Luckily the marina has WiFi so I have been able to stay in touch with Don mainly via Skype and use the paid system to call family in the UK.

Every year there is a big regatta run by Heineken it goes on for 4 days, so most of the boats are coming into here and we are being kicked out. So far I have seen some Volvo open 70 really fast looking yachts.
I have taken the following information from the Heineken site, it starts on the 6th of March and finishes on the 9th so the extra day must be all the celebrations afterwards.

Interesting facts:
  • The Regatta is run by the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation
  • The Event was founded in 1980 and began with 12 entries
  • The event attracts around 2500 sailors and approximately 1000 supporting people to the island
  • Heineken became a major sponsor in 1983 and has remained as title sponsor since then.
  • In 2008 the largest entry field was recorded at 289 boats.
  • Over 100 boats are charter boats that race in the Bareboat fleet and around 50 of those come from Holland.
 I have seen one of the open 70's loaded with so many fuel containers so I guess they didn't sail all the way unlike us. If there is wind we sail NOT MOTOR.

I'm not sure if we will see any of the race or even be here, it depends on the weather for our next leg through the Caribbean, next stop, St Barth or St Barts as some call it.

Don is back now so we will be out to anchor in the lagoon and all being well fix the watermaker.
Watch this space for the next instalment of Agua Therapy cruising in the Caribbean.

Agua Therapy
Don and Glenys

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