Thursday 14th April 2011
Distance run:103 nautical miles
We finally slipped the lines just after midday yesterday. The hatches arrived Tuesday afternoon, and the water inlet was fixed without the need for the boat to be hauled. So we were at last able to take our leave of Antigua.
There wasn't a lot of wind about so it was a slow and gentle overnight passage to St Martin. We sailed very gently past Nevis, St Kitts,St Eustatius and St Barts, and arrived in St Martin around 1400 today. This island solved the problem of who it belongs to by splitting itself in half, and we had been advised to enter and clear in through the French side as the Dutch charges are high. So we made our way round to Marigot Bay and dropped the anchor while we had a quick bite of lunch and waited for the bridge into the lagoon to open. As we entered the bay we passed Mirabella V,which in 2004 was the largest single masted sailing yacht in the world. It is 247 feet long (we are 43') and has a retractable keel that goes from 4 metres at its shortest to 10 metres fully down. (Ours is 1.75 metres and unfortunately does not retract!). It was anchored quite a long way out! It would cost $420,000 to charter it for a week.
We toyed with the idea of staying in the Bay as it was very pleasant, but decided to go on into the lagoon where we would be better protected from any swell. This proved to be a good decision financially as there are no anchoring charges in the lagoon whereas there are in the Bay. We paid 5 euros to check in but friends who arrived at the same time and decided to stay in the bay (we bumped into them when clearing in) paid 35 euros- and they were only staying one night!
As we crept slowly into the lagoon and the depth gauge read zero water under the keel,however, we began to have our doubts whether we had indeed made the right decision! Especially as one of the first boats we saw only had the remains of its masts visible above the water!
A sad and sobering sight!
Fortunately we did not touch bottom and found ourselves a spot with a good metre under the keel in which to anchor. We were glad to be near the hill interestingly called 'Witches Tit' as it meant we could find our way back to the boat when venturing ashore in the dinghy!