Simpson Bay Lagoon, Saint Marten
Position: 18:02.800N 63:05.817W
Date: Saturday 1st February 2014
We ended up spending a week in Simpson Bay Marina, but it was quite hot and sticky there and the water was very muddy. The marina itself was well run, if rather expensive, but we were starting to tire of marina living and wanted to go back to lying to an anchor. Around us were acres of very large and very expensive motor yachts, more than I have ever seen in any one place. It was probably their movements in the shallow lagoon that was making the water so muddy. The marina was on the Dutch side of the island where we were being charged $20 a week (plus marina fees) whether at anchor in the marina; but if we travelled a mile or so north to the French side of the lagoon then there would be no fees to pay. Also boats moored on the Dutch side were right under the flight path of the airport and so were constantly sprayed with a fine mist of aviation fuel as the heavily laden jets struggled to reach altitude as they took off. But to get to the French side we would have to negotiate a new causeway bridge that crossed the centre of the lagoon joining the eastern side of the island to the international airport on the western side. Its main purpose is to carry road traffic, so it only opens for boats to pass a few times each day.
The causeway bridge is about a mile long and was so new that the opening ceremony had taken place whilst we were staying in the marina. There was quite an extensive firework display with multiple cascades of different coloured fireworks being ignited from the bridge and lighting up the whole lagoon. Thereafter every night the sides of the bridge are illuminated with an extensive network of lights that constantly change colour and pulse with different rhythms of intensity. It’s all a bit naff really.
We waited for an appropriate opening and then dropped anchor amongst the large number of boats moored just inside the French part of the lagoon. Interestingly the water quality also improved significantly and we were actually able to see the bottom. The main feature close to us was a small but steep hill that our Grandson had said resembles the small mountain under which the Thunderbirds lair lies. He was right, but the locals called it ‘The Witches Tit’. It was presumably named by a schoolboy.
The main thing we had done whilst in the marina was to purchase a new dinghy. Our experience at Saba had shown that we really needed something a little more robust than we had been using so far. We ended up buying a 9 foot RIB with an aluminium floor manufactured by AB. We had also found a buyer for our old dinghy. Furthermore we managed to find someone who was prepared to take the troublesome Suzuki outboard engine off our hands.