We finally made the trek over to St Martin this past week and with the ‘Christmas Winds’ having arrived it is a good thing we didn’t delay any longer. We anchored in Marigot harbour upon our arrival and have been enjoying the beautiful town, the french cuisine and tonight some Christmas festivities begin, so we will likely be around a few more days.
We delayed our departure from the BVIs as we found out on our arrival to Sopers Hole that the final Salty Dawg party of the year at the Bamboushay lounge in Road Town had been expanded to accommodate extra people and was no longer full. It was well worth the delay and then we puttered slowly to Virgin Gorda afterwards to watch the weather for a good departure.
Weather Guru, Chris Parker indicated that there was a 2 or 3 day opportunity where the trade winds would be a little lighter, and we went on the earlier end of that window as the GRIB files showed that overnight the winds might turn slightly north of east and maybe we would have a favoured tack into the wind and waves so we could likely sail the bulk of the journey. We motored out to Necker Island so we could clear the reef pass just before sunset and then raised sails and pounded our way close hauled through the night headed SE towards the Saba bank which lies south west of St. Martin. We had winds up to 20 knots for a couple hours that night the average through the night was closer to 15-17. We tacked NE for number of hours and when we were about to put Anguilla between us and St Martin I shook out the remaining reef in the main, tacked and started the motor to charge the batteries and allow us to sail higher into the easing breeze. The winds shifted favourably a couple hours later when Chrissy took over so we sailed without the motor and then the last few miles we again motor sailed so we could anchor in time to clear customs.
Customs was all done at a computer terminal and no hassles with the dog. If we were to clear Altera in on the dutch side we are supposed to do advance paperwork among other things for Magnus, yet on the French side – nothing. And once here we can dinghy or taxi around the island with the dog across the border with no issues. Go Figure. The better anchorages are on the French side anyway so now we are kicking ourselves for not coming for a week or two last winter.
Our first evening we wandered around to stretch our legs and give Magnus some shore time. We found ourselves on the Lagoon side of Marigot where we remembered from a few years ago that they have some nice restaurants overlooking Marina Royale. We caved when one waiter assured us of a welcome rum punch that we would love and that the food would be excellent or he would not charge us and jump into the lagoon. And we could even come in with Magnus. The french cuisine was worth the churned up stomachs the night before. And we have since found the grocery shopping to be excellent. Many items are brought in from France so the selection in gourmet ingredients is excellent and the prices are hard to beat. Why didn’t we come sooner? We’re still asking ourselves that.
We have toured some shops in the downtown and yesterday we wandered up the hill to Fort Louis for a great view of the harbour. At night they light the fort up with blue white and red lights which makes for a nice view. Last night they had a fun run and then live music later on. It started to rain and we didn’t know what the schedule was for the band so we opted to call it a night and this evening will check out the Santa parade and festivities instead.
Altera is anchored out somewhere behind us.
They have a large school and sports field. You can see the solar arrays covering all the south facing roofs of the school buildings.
And Chrissy discovered that she has her own place here.
The horse, we believe was following 30 yards behind his owner. Either that or he is well trained as he made a left turn and trotted across the street at the cross walk instead of just continuing straight ahead.
We’ve been through the bridge on the French half twice now to access the big lagoon. Apparently we can probably take Altera through at high tide, but we haven’t found the anchorage in Marigot to be too uncomfortable yet so we’ll save dredging a path with our keel for some other time. Besides, with all the live aboards in the lagoon, swimming isn’t as desirable as it is outside.
Magnus, as usual enjoying the sights as we head across the lagoon.
We were headed for the boat shops as I needed to get to the rigger for a part for the furler. Luck was with us as they had the part in stock and have a few good options at good prices for running rigging so I may do some measuring and pick up new reefing lines while we are in a duty free port. On route we met another Canadian boat that we had done the rally with last year and had a quick visit. They are gearing up for the panama canal in the new year.
On the Dutch side of the lagoon the water is a little deeper and they have a mega yacht marina. Venus, the yacht that Steve Jobs was having built looks a little different. Can’t imagine the hull is very comfortable at sea, but then again the owners usually aren’t on the boat when it is being repositioned…
We met another Nova Scotia couple in Marigot and they invited us to join them at the yacht club for drinks on the patio next to the Dutch bridge into the lagoon. Unfortunately we didn’t get to observe any mega yachts come through the bridge (the big ones come through with inches to spare while crew scramble around with headsets reporting back to the captain), but we had a good time watching some of the local kids sail their Optis.
A few more visits planned in the lagoon tomorrow and then I think we are going to move over to Grande Case.