St Maarten

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Tue 1 Feb 2011 22:17

N18:01.2 W63:02.6
We had a magnificent sail from Statia up to St Maarten, the wind just
forward of the beam and we averaged about 7.5 knots.
Our arrival turned out to be rather stressful, however. We contacted
Bobby's marina by phone to let them know we were about to arrive and
they gave us detailed instructions on how to find our way into the marina
- red buoys, green buoys a pair of orange buoys and a double ended
yacht moored just outside the marina. We were faced with a myriad number
of red and green buoys with no discernable channels obvious, no orange
buoys and no doubled ended yacht. We gilled around, alarmed at the depth
soundings of 0.5 metres, but eventually found a way into the fuel dock at
the end of the marina.
It turns out that there are two Bobby's marinas, one in Philipsburg,
the main town, which is where we want to be, and a new Bobby's
marina in the lagoon, which is miles away, through a lifting bridge and
where we definitely don't want to be. Luckily, the marina office
sorted things out and rebooked our lift out at Philipsburg. Unfortunately,
though there was no room in the marina, so we have had to anchor off,
which is a bit of a nuisance when trying to decommission the boat. Just so
that I didn't think he was a complete burk, John showed me the email
correspondence and web site pages he had printed off, and there was
absolutely no mention of the new marina anywhere - very strange!
St Maarten is quite a surprise, as it is completely Americanised. Two
cruise ships a day visit the town, which is full of shops selling
diamonds, furs, electrical equipment and designer clothes. The
restaurants are largely fast food ribs 'n wings joints but we are
hoping to find somewhere with a more local flavour for our last meal
ashore tonight. A visit to the ‘Grand Marche - a vast
supermarket confirmed that we will have absolutely no problem provisioning
for our trip back across the Atlantic.

John has finally pronounced on the batteries which have been absorbing
almost his full attention for the last 4 weeks - they are going! St
Maarten IS duty free as advertised, and a new set of AGM batteries and a
new engine starter battery have been purchased at a good discount, and
will be fitted Monday, before we leave. An American woman we met in
Dominica said of batteries when the subject came up 'ah, batteries, I
think of them as I think of babies - they always need feeding'!

Jobs to do all Saturday, but on Sunday, with everything closed down in
Philipsburg, we decided to expose ourselves to the 'real' St
Maartin/Martin, and took a bus from Philipsburg, capital of the Dutch side
to Marigot, capital of the French side. This turned out to be very similar
to the Dutch side, and similarly closed down for Sunday. We did however,
find a very simple restaurant on the dockside where we had a memorable
meal, me of oxtail and John of curried goat, very creole and extremely
tasty. We also located a mouth-watering patisserie which would have graced
the streets of St Germain. The bus ride was interesting, two dollars each
and a bus driver that treated the extremely tatty bus as if it was his own
private vehicle, stopping and starting to let his small son on and off the
bus to make purchases for him and stopping for a heated argument with a
lottery ticket seller, which ended up involving all the bus passengers,
apart from us, who looked on in bemusement, trying to work out what
language was being spoken, or rather bellowed at top volume.

Monday, our last day, went exceptionally well. New batteries arrived, were
fitted in a twinkling and immediately started behaving as good batteries
should - we have forgotten what this is like and just reinforced
what duds the last ones had been. We have found a good man to look after
the boat for us, charge the batteries each month and clean the decks so
that she is sparkling on our return. He is also going to organise someone
to replace the almost completely opaque window in our sprayhood and refit
it so that it stops water sloshing round the corners in a heavy sea. The
lift out was about 4 hours late, but this made all the above much easier
to organise. When she did come out of the water, the hull was completely
clean, no fouling at all, so have resolved not to have her anti-fouled
again until we get her back to England. This antifouling was put on at not
inconsiderable expense in Majorca, almost 3 years ago and has survived
extended periods exposed to blistering tropical suns.

The day was rounded off by being taken to the hotel near the airport,
located for us by a really helpful taxi drive that I had found on our
first day, when I discovered that all the hotels in Philipsburg were full.
'The Royal Turtle' turned out to be a charmingly laid back
affair, with an extensive open air bar and restaurant built on stilts out
over the lagoon. The room had aircon - bliss -and we spent a lovely
relaxed evening, talking over the highlights of our cruise over a bottle
of wine being fanned by the balmy breeze of the Caribbean wafting over the

Next day, same time, and we are still here in the charming hotel. Luckily
they still have room. All flights to and from JFK cancelled due to
blizzards. Just tried out the swimming pool and ordered a couple of draft
beers from the bar. Life can be a bitch, can't it!