Finally, French food at last! After an unexpectedly horrible overnight trip we have now made it to the first French Caribbean island, St Martin. Well, actually, only half the island is french, the other half is Sint Maarten – the dutch side. We had been looking forward to a smooth sail across the passage from the BVI’s due to the forecast small swell (less than a metre) and the promise of no Caribbean chop which has the boat bobbing about like a cork in a bathtub. Sadly, the promised Atlantic swell did not appear, and chop was indeed on the menu. My shift from midnight till 4 pm was the worst so far of the whole trip, and most possibly made worse by the highly over seasoned Tugboat stew I had pre-prepared to make the passage easier! Next time it is definitely toasted sandwiches!
Pulling into the beautiful Marigot bay was quite a relief, and we jumped ship immediately to hit the local bakery for croissants, pastries and coffee!
I was very keen to see Pete in action using the Dutch that he had learnt whilst his dad and sisters were living in Holland, so it was disappointing to find that on the Dutch side of the island, the main language spoke was English. We took a local bus to Phillipsburg to check out the town,which very much catered to the large cruisers that visit very regularly. We arrived late in the day, and everything was shutting down (it seems all the passengers have to be back on board their ships by about 5 o’clock each afternoon), so the beach side was almost deserted.
We were lucky to be here for the Bastille day, July 14th. All activities were scheduled for the area beside the harbour, so we had front row seats. The day started with an opening ceremony, parade, sailing races in the harbour, followed by music, dancing, DJ’s and fireworks in the evening. Lots of food stalls and some rides, Tom having fun on the bucking bronco!
Over the weekend we headed to a beach located at the end of the runaway. This is the location of a highly viewed youtube video. Planes land and depart every 20 minutes or so, and the larger aircraft, when taking of heading away from the beach, generate a huge blast of air the practically blows you into the water. The boys had so much fun, although I choose to experience the blast when the largest plane took off (thanks Pete for sending me out right at that moment). The sting of the sand was not very pleasant, and it took days to get all the sand out of my hair (despite twice daily swims!). We’ve lots of videos that one day we’ll get organised and posted, the photo’s don’t do justice to the actual experience.
Sadly, a women died only a couple of days prior to us visiting the beach, after getting knocked over by the blast and banging her head. It was reported that she was closer to the jet blasts than us, in an out-of-bounds area, and I guess very unlucky.
The last few days have been very, very windy, way to windy to leave and head to our next destination of St Barts. We’ve filled the days in with homeschooling, swimming, movies (boys very happy to see the latest SpiderMan movie). We were able to go by dinghy across Simpsons harbour (about a 25 minute dinghy ride) to just across the road from the cinemas. We were joined by the kids from the catamaran Xayla (Xavier and Mayla) who we were happy to meet up with again, having first met in Luperon in the DR and then again at Samana.
So, once again, we await the wind to die down a bit, and more repairs to be complete. Yes, still ongoing fridge problems, and despite changing all the batteries which was probably contributing to the fridge tripping whenever we tried to run it with the engine ($$$$$$) we still have a problem. Pete and Max are now waiting for the fridge mechanics back at the boat, whilst Ben, Tom and I hangout in a cafe! Hopefully, we will set sail tomorrow, it is time to move on!