Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten (The Dutch side)

Imagine Of Falmouth Online Log
Jon Constantine
Fri 17 Apr 2009 10:20
Fri 17th Apr 09 to Fri 18th May 09

A little before 10am we set off sailing through the gap between the great boulders of the Baths on Virgin Gorda (we visited them last year) and the small uninhabited island, Fallen Jerusalem.  We immediately tacked over to port once through, making a course of 90 degrees with the bearing to St Maarten being 120 degrees.  We'll miss the island totally at this rate!  The wind is a good 15 to 17 knots and we are speeding along at between 5 and 6 knots.  By late afternoon the wind had dropped reducing our speed to just 3 knots so on went the engine.  At least we could head up much higher and get onto the correct course.  A couple of hours later the wind picked up again and had swung slightly in our favour to the north so off went the engine and we're sailing again, still not making the course but doing better than we were.  We've just had a small rain squall so this wind change could be only temporary.  Oh well.  We'll just have to put in a couple of tacks later on. 

About half an hour before sunset we were gazing over the stern watching Tortola and Virgin Gorda receding into the distance when we caught sight of 2 whales spouting.  Fabulous.  This is only the 2nd time we've seen whales here in the Caribbean.  They were a bit too far away for me to take a snap so no photo evidence I'm afraid.  We settled ourselves down to watch the sunset and now that the rains have gone the sky was very clear and it looked like we'd get a good one.  I half jokingly said to Jon, "I bet we get to see the green flash this time".  Yeah right.  Well we did!  Wow!  To be honest it was more of a blob than a flash. As the sun disappeared behind the horizon this glowing green 'lava lamp' like globule slowly rose, appearing for several seconds and then it was gone.  Amazing.  Later in the week Jon checked the internet regarding this phenomena and apparently, more often than not it does appear as a blob rather than an actual flash.  Several years ago Jon saw the actual flash so I'm just going to have to continue with my sunset gazing in the hope of seeing one too.  What?  Me?  Competitive?  I think it must have been a good omen as the wind direction changed again and were are now able to make a reasonable course.  The rest of the sail was pretty uneventful after that and we continued on.  We had our dinner and then took our usual turns on the watches. 

                         First sighting of land at sunrise

By sunrise we could see St Martin/Sint Maarten in the distance but we were way off the Rhum line so we put a tack in.  We put in several tacks that morning as the wind kept shifting and by the time we were a few miles off, having been headed just once to often, we opted for motoring the last bit.  We were just too tired now and were keen to get to our destination.  By 11.30am we'd dropped the anchor on a lovely sandy bottom, the hook biting first time, just off Kimshaw beach in Simpson Bay.  We'd logged 123 miles in 25 hours, 20 miles and 4 hours less than the same trip last year and much more comfortably!  And here we stayed for the next 3 and a half weeks.  No lagoon for us this time.  We've had enough grounding dramas to last us a lifetime!

     Once settled we watched a helicopter landing on this boat White Cloud, anchored over the other side of the bay.  Impressive!  No Jon, we don't have room!