We are now on the strange, divided island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin which we reached early on Saturday morning after an enjoyable and fast night sail (we had to slow down at the end to avoid arriving in the dark). The little island is half Dutch and half French and both sides have decided on tax free status and rampant tourist development as the best way forward. The result is not very attractive, although Marigot, the capital of the French part, does have some charm. Most cruisers only come here because it offers a huge variety of yacht services and supplies and we are here to buy solar panels and a new outboard engine and have several bits of work done before we move on. It is very frustrating to be tied up in a small marina in the large lagoon here where most of the businesses are situated waiting to see when the work could be started. The water is very brown and murky, it’s hot because further from the breezes out at sea and it’s not easy to go for a walk on the busy and dusty roads.
So it’s not always “plain sailing” in paradise, this cruising life and first mate is a bit grumpy right now. However, we did dust off our folding bikes and use them to cycle into French territory last Sunday and ended up having a long and very enjoyable ride around the whole lagoon. We had a brief stop by the famous beach which sits at the end of the island’s runway and where tourists gather to be almost blown away by jets as they take off right next to them. If we can arrange a work schedule, we may be able to take off ourselves for a few days, either in “Goldcrest” if we have to wait a while or by leaving her to the workmen and taking a ferry to another island maybe.
Our view in Nelson’s Dockyard before leaving Antigua:
Dawn over Sint Maarten: