Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Maarten Position: 18:02.317N 62:05.606W
Bill and Judy Stellin
Sun 6 Apr 2008 20:08
The bottom is painted, hull waxed and Jaywalker looks fantastic. The guys in the yard did a good job, however, as with anywhere here in the Caribbean, one must supervise every second the work is being done. Luckily, the yard manager is a white guy who knows how to get his guys working. Even still, about four hours of actual work is ever done by anyone in an eight hour day. These people have one speed....slow bordering on stop.
Hustle is an unknown word and concept.
We went back out on anchor in the bay outside of Philipsburg, where the boat yard is and stayed one more night. The rolling became unbearable so we've moved into Simpson Bay Lagoon, a land locked large body of very shallow water that has two small canals with bridges over them, as entrances. One is on the French side and the other, the one we used, is on the Dutch side.
After one day in here, I wish we'd stayed outside where we were.
The Dutch entrance is the closest to Philipsburg and here you must go see the Port Authority and pay a fee to anchor either in the Lagoon or even outside, plus pay a bridge opening fee. For us it came to a whopping $56 USD. Just for the dubious privilege of anchoring and entering. The water is pee green (not misspelled) and only about eight feet deep.
After entering, we decided to go to the French side of the Lagoon because we had heard the water was a little cleaner. On the way, in a marked, dredged channel, we went aground and had to be towed out of the sticky soft mud.
We turned around and finally anchored about half way across the bay and dinghyed into Marigot the little tourist town on the French side.
Dinghying anywhere these past several months has been a real trial because of the winds and wave chop. We get soaked every time we get into the blamed thing.
We didn't want to be half way to anywhere, so we upped anchor and moved to the Dutch side where we promptly ran aground again. This time we were about 15 feet out of the channel which should have been marked except all the red buoys were missing.
We got the Danforth anchor out to kedge our way off the bottom, had it in the Dinghy with line to pay out, when we noticed we had bumped up against a green buoy and were now adrift.
I had the dinghy motor started, just left it as is, jumped back on board Jaywalker, started the engine and stopped our drift literally inches away from the bow mooring line of a mega yacht. All the time it was blowing about 30 knots and raining. Which by the way it has done everyday since half way across the Atlantic. I probably told you that already, but it bears repeating, because it is one of the several reasons, I will never come back to this part of the world.
Above is our wind instrument showing winds of 33 knots while at rest at anchor, apparent and true wind speeds are the same when you are not moving.
We finally got anchored and noticed some friends of ours, Frank and Tari, on Vision, anchored nearby. We dinghyed over and visited wherein they told us of a good internet bar/cafe with free wifi and a laundry.
Today we went to the place and ran into another guy we met in St Lucia who was lamenting the fact that he and about 15 other cruisers had just discoved their Cash debit card numbers had been stolen in Antigua, English Harbor and now they were out thousands of dollars. I immediately went on line and sure enough, we too have been victimized to the tune of $2010 USD. We all used the only ATM in the harbor which someone had compromised so as to get access to card numbers as well as pin's. We were in Antigua over a month ago, and the fraudulent transactions were occurring while we were talking about it, today. All of mine were withdrawals in NY city over the past two days.
After a frantic call to Schwab Bank, the card was cancelled and I am pretty sure the money will be replaced. I still have my card, I didn't lose it and it wasn't stolen so there is nothing I could have done to prevent this from occurring, save having never come to this godforsaken area.
What a series of coincidences lead us to finding out what was happening.
It was pure chance we ran into Frank and Tari. It was equally pure chance they told us of this particular bar with wifi, and it was further pure chance we ran into someone we knew, who told us of the scam.
In all our years in Europe, we were never robbed nor had anything stolen and were seldom short changed. When it did occur it was an honest mistake that was apologetically rectified by almost mortified shop or restaurant people. Here, about every day there is an occasion of short changing or overcharging. I think I have caught all of them but who knows.
I don't think I can offer any advice to people coming here about protecting person and property. The scams are too numerous. In every tourist office, immigration and customs office or other public place, there are big notices warning visitors about unscrupulous taxi and tour operators. The warnings go on about being overcharged, being robbed, not going out alone at night, always walking in well lit places in a big group, etc, etc. It is sickening to realize what suckers we white tourist are and how we are at the mercy of the local bad guys. The police are worthless as are the incompetent public officials. They do know however, how to extract every cent they can from tourists. There is a fee to check in, check out, anchor, harbor dues, navigation light dues, custom fees, etc,etc.
Believe me, you who go on cruise ship tours never see what we do. You are back on board by 5PM and safely eating a shipboard dinner by 8.
We ate out in an Indian restaurant in Philipsburg and saw with our own eyes a woman, nicely dressed and well made up, order a meal, eat it, order a second main course and skip leaving the owner shaking his head. Seems being a cheat runs both ways.