St Martin 18.02N 63.05W

Island Wanderer
Peter and Avril Brookes
Thu 12 Apr 2012 12:49
Light winds and choppy seas made for a bouncy trip from St Barts to St Martin. We anchored in the capital, Philipsburg, to complete the formalities, and then went to explore the town.  It was geared to entice trade from well heeled cruise ship customers, with every second shop being a jewellers. Philipsburg was also the first town we have seen since our arrival in the Caribbean that has allowed high rise development. Following a very rolly night in the anchorage we moved into Simpson Bay lagoon, where we knew we could be sure of some calm water!
Access to the lagoon was through a lifting bridge. Once inside, we were surrounded by some of the largest superyachts we have ever seen. This has given rise to countless marine services and the best chandlery we have seen for ages. As we approach the end of the sailing season, the superyachts have apparently bought up all available spares,  (according to the chandlers) meaning that our search for something as simple as a fuel filter has been rather frustrating.
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Approaching the blue opening bridge                                             high rises and superyachts!
The calm water in the lagoon has meant that we could finally complete sanding teak that was only accessible from the dinghy. With several coats of varnish applied, we are well on the way to completing the job. The wind has been too strong for us to patch the hole that appeared in the mainsail though.
The calm water has also allowed us some uninterrupted sleep. On the downside, the noise from being anchored 500m from the end of the run way, and the constant pleasure boat traffic has shown us how peaceful some of our previous anchorages have been!
We celebrated Pete's birthday with a meal ashore, and a trip to the first cinema we have seen! The town has an American feel with more high rise and shopping malls.
Yesterday, we took the dinghy to the other side of the lagoon. St Martin is divided between the Netherlands and France. We are technically anchored on the Dutch side, although we can see the border from the boat. The journey took us past numerous wrecks and semi sunken vessels, one with just the mast and rigging sticking out of the water. It was hard to believe, when we tied up in the dinghy dock on the French side, that we had travelled such a short distance. The town was typically French Caribbean full of character and charm, and a real contrast to the bustle and noise to the south. The anchorage just outside the lagoon looked tranquil and attractive, and did make us wonder why we had spent the week anchored where we were!