Friday, March 18, 2016

St. Maarten: The End of the Line for Dulcinea

At the beginning of the trip, we were going to sail all the way to Grenada before hurricane season. We soon learned that we wouldn’t make it there unless we made a beeline for it and skipped exploring places we wanted to see, which we weren’t willing to do. Then we decided that the BVIs would be the farthest east that we would go to ensure that we would have enough time to relax in the Exumas. However, the more cruisers we talked to throughout this trip, the more rave reviews we heard about St. Martin/Sint Maarten. It has always been on my bucket list and was only ninety miles from Virgin Gorda in the BVIs so we said to heck with it and just went.

We left around eight or nine in the morning on February 19th and were drenched by showers that lasted a few hours. The storm brought wind out of the west, which was unexpected but in a good way. It meant that we were sailing downwind instead of going into the wind and having to tack. It also meant we were making better time than expected so during the early hours of the morning, we hoved-to to stop the boat from moving. Anchoring in the dark and an unknown anchorage isn’t a good idea.

After an hour or so, we were on our way again. We pulled in to Marigot Bay just as the sun was peeking out over the island.

There is a French side (St. Martin) and a Dutch side (Sint Maarten). Our plan was to go through the Sandy Ground Bridge and anchor in the Simpson Bay lagoon on the French side. It would be cheaper since there is no charge to use the bridge (the bridge is only like ten feet high so it has to be opened to allow boats to cross), and the fee to check in is only two euro. However, we caught the tail end of the daily cruisers net and asked about taking the boat all the way into lagoon since we were told by other cruisers that it is a little hairy trying to get there. We were told that it was shallow in a lot of places and that we would need to get the waypoints for the “safe” path. To get the waypoints, we would need to take the dinghy in to Shrimpy’s Laundry. Usually that is not a big deal, but the dinghy was up on the deck, and the wind was blowing 20-25 knots, which means we couldn’t safely get it off the deck and into the water.

David was exhausted from being on night watch and didn’t want to stay in the rolly bay so we sailed around to Simpson Bay, where we could enter the lagoon through a different bridge on the Dutch side. This bridge, like the other one, is only opened at certain times of the day, and we waited a few minutes for it to open and then made our way into the lagoon. By the time we dropped the hook and got settled in, it was too late to check in.
Leaving Marigot Bay. You can just barely see Anguilla on the right side of the picture.
Boats lined up waiting for the bridge to open

St. Martin is the mega yacht capital of the Caribbean!

Inside the lagoon
 The next day we checked in on the Dutch side since that is where we anchored and paid twenty dollars for the weekly harbor fee and seven dollars for use of the bridge. If moving the boat from one side to the other, you have to check out and then check into the other country, but that only applies to the big boat. You can freely go from the Dutch to French side and vice versa if driving, walking, or taking the dinghy.

We spent three weeks in lovely St. Maarten, exploring and getting in plenty of beach time. We only planned on staying a week but ended up staying three since David wanted to help with the regatta and we had friends there. As I am writing this, we are already back in St. Thomas. St. Maarten is far east as we will go, and we will slowly start making our way back to the States in a couple of days. It is hard to turn back now, especially since Antigua (another bucket list place) is only another hundred miles from St. Maarten, but we have to go back eventually, especially since I have a wedding to be in in June!

There will be another blog entry coming about our time there and lots of pictures.


  1. Your brother will never let you forget it if you miss his wedding

  2. Yes, I know. I wouldn't want to miss it!