St Martin/Sint Maartin/SXM
Falmouth Harbour proved to be a very interesting place to be with so much going on, but the sight to beat them all was when the Maltese Falcon reversed into the bay, and anchored across from us. This magnificent craft was built for Tom Perkins (a venture capitalist behind Amazon and Google to name but 2) and cost him the princely sum of 180 million US dollars. She is beautiful - 289 ft long and 42ft wide (that is how long Andromeda is) with 3 huge masts that each have 6 yardarms and once she was securely anchored they rotated the masts to reduce windage. Her sails furl into the beautifully curved yardarms and it would be fantastic to see her with all of them flying but having talked to a few people we think it is very unlikely we will see that (unless she is being raced, so maybe in April) because it apparently costs so much to sail any of the big mega yachts, due to wear and tear on the equipment, that most of the time they motor around – diesel being much cheaper to buy than spares.(If you google Maltese Falcon there are some great clips of her sailing).
We really enjoyed the ever changing vista of the other super yachts coming and going. There were at least two we could see that had their own helipad complete with helicopter on. At night when all the spreader lights were lit up it almost looked like a fairy castle across the bay, a very pretty effect. Every day we watched the youngsters sail in their various fleets of lasers, picos and optimists. They have a policy here that every child from 8-18 could have free sailing and swimming tuition and there were very many youngsters enjoying the opportunity.
Revisiting places we had been last year and seeing what changes had occurred, and there were a few, was also fun. In English Harbour they had extended the super yacht dock so there were even more big beasties to see when we walked round ther,e but some things were just the same. We are starting to run into folk we have met in Trinidad and other places now, and in Antigua it was no different, and very pleasant to suddenly have someone come up and say ‘Hello Mr and Mrs Andromeda’. Yes we know that isn’t our name but understand as we are the same, it is much easier somehow to remember the boat name........ then there was the lady who stopped us and asked if we were coming back into Freemans Bay so they could watch us do anchor practise again......and she reminded us that our last record was 8 goes before the hook stuck in.
Shopping in Falmouth was also another delight as for one thing they stock proper English Bacon and sausages so can you guess what we had for tea and breakfast.....got to make the most of it.
Looking at the weather we decided to go round to Jolly Harbour to check the place out and stay for a few days before heading north. With only 8 miles to cover we were able to leave our anchorage at a very leisurely pace. We were a bit nervous about the depths on the way around as it is very shallow and we get very edgy once we are down to 4/5 metres of water but once the sun came it felt a lot better as we could clearly see where the reefs were and of course the turquoise sea looked fantastic.
By lunch time we were safely tucked in a marina berth, as the anchorage was quite crowded and all the buoys were occupied, and could relax and enjoy our surroundings. Jolly Harbour is quite a pretty marina, not too big but with a lot going for it. The things we liked most were the supermarket (which was very well stocked and nice and easy to get to as it was part of the complex) and the beach. The sand and the sea look absolutely stunning and so inviting and we had a lovely afternoon in the water round there.
We made contact with the Ocean Cruising Club Port Officer – Eve – and had a great few hours over sundowners at her home in a stunning location overlooking Jolly Harbour. There were other folk there too from Drum Horse and the time passed very quickly and all too soon it was time to get back into the dinghy for the trip back to Andromeda carefull making our way across the bay in the dark.
We then had a weather window and took the opportunity to sail the 75 miles or so up to St. Barts, another very pretty island. We took advantage of the buoys in one of their bays as the town itself was very busy and crowded. We had a very peaceful couple of days in the anchorage, again watching all the coming and going between swimming and snorkelling in the clear sea, we managed to get a couple of underwater piccies too.
Our trip up to St. Martins was only 15 miles but eventful all the same because of the wind and waves rolling Andromeda about all over the place. We managed to sail most of the way across until the wind direction changed once again and we put on the good old engine for the final bit. We were hit with a couple of torrential showers, well at least the decks were cleaned and for a while actually had a southerly wind, not at all what we expected. We passed the capital of St Martin – Phillipsburg and were treated to the sight of no less than 5 huge liners moored at the dock, it was going to be busy there.
We had managed to time our crossing quite well and in the end only had about 40 mins to hang around before the bridge into the lagoon opened. Rounding us up was a guy in a rib from the marina and so we decided to ask for a berth for a few days as a little treat, once we leave here and go north we will be anchoring all the time. The marina guy got on the radio said there was somewhere available but we would have to go stern to (backwards)...........we don’t go backwards very well we said....not to worry I will help you says he.
We had already got lines and fenders ready in case we went into the marina but we were not expecting to have stern lines so Susan got busy setting these up and we made our way round to the berth with a bit of trepidation. Everything always looks so small and you always seem to be going too fast when you do this sort of manoeuvre and we won’t even talk about the wind. Anyway his word was good and when we were ready to go back into the slip he gently nudged Andromeda amidships first of all to get us going round the corner and then gently pushed the bow over too. Susan stood at the stern and threw the various lines to the waiting dock staff and without any fuss we were in – backwards – tied up - electricity attached and could relax. Phew! if only it was always like that.
So now we have been here in St. Martin’s for a couple of days. We are enjoying the new showers they have installed since last year and again finding our way around. We have been for a ride round the lagoon in the dinghy and seen how they are getting on with the new bridge going across it (seems to make much more sense than that one in Poole). We took the dinghy across to the chandlers today, so much nicer than walking along the road in the traffic, and are getting on with a few minor jobs whilst we are here. The weather forecast for the next week is for gusty conditions with a big northerly swell coming down so we have decided to stay and enjoy some home comforts for the time being.
However at the moment it is blowing 30 knots plus across the deck , not quite what was predicted, so we have just been out and put out extra lines and all the fenders.
More in due course
photos to follow
Andrew and Susan
Andromeda of Plymouth
St. Martin/Saint Maarten