On to St. Maarten - 18:04.2N 63:05.3W

Thu 5 May 2011 00:44
Every day now the horns of the surrounding yachts sound loudly, wishing farewell to their friends departing for the Mediterranean. At the same time the Classics are arriving in for what is reputedly the best week in Antigua.  Soon after Antigua will be void of any yachts as the hurricane season rolls in.  A lot of the bars and restaurants where we have spent our evenings will close and Antigua will return to hibernation to emerge again next winter.  My good intentions to leave before everybody else keep getting hampered by my own reluctance to go.
With some light provisioning and the help of some Irish friends to get water on-board.* I am pretty much ready to depart.  St Maarten is reputedly the best place in the Caribbean to stock up as it is tax free.  I have called ahead to one of the chandlery's to ensure that they have the correct cmaps charts for the my next voyage.  At 0930 a 40ft tender of one of the Classics pulls up alongside and passes me a hose to fill my water tanks. Iâd love to have got a photo but the strain to complete the task was similar to refuelling a F16 mid-air. I have been up the mast and checked all the rigging terminals, a quick run through of the engine,  steering cables checked and tightened and the double headsails removed and the single Yankee put back up. I will most likely be broad-reaching or reaching until I hit the States.
After a days sailing I arrive outside the French town of Marigot.  The anchorage here is busy and I take an hour surveying the depth and the bottom for a good place to anchor.  Finally anchored close to the town I pump up the dingy and head ashore.  The first thing I need to do is clear-in.  I have been warned about clearing in to the Dutch side of the Island , hence my decision to clear in on the French side.  I ask a couple of people for the immigration office but when I find it, it is closed for training.  I am told to come back at four oâclock instead.  Luckily I discover that you can clear in at the marina.  It is far simpler and cheaper too.  The emigration at the ferry dock charge 20 euro but the marina direct you to a computer and let you fill in your details yourself and pay 5 euro.  Thrilled with my frugal moves I head to the bar for some cool ones and a date with the internet.
The following day I get a bus to the Dutch side of the island to collect my charts and do some shopping.  On meeting the guy who is in charge of ordering I explain that I had emailed him, to which I got a response,  and I had called before I left Antigua to confirm that the charts were in stock.  Unfortunately he could not remember any of this, so I asked him to check his inbox under Lady Shamrock, sure enough there was the email but that didnât mean that I was going to get the charts Iâd ordered.  The best he could do is order the charts for me which would take seven days.  Disgusted, I went down to Budget Marine where they made every effort to find a solution but the best was still going to be a wait of five days.  Instead I bought some large scale paper charts and a bucket to replace the ones I keep breaking and losing.  I managed to make it to St Maarten in one piece so I would just have to keep doing what I was doing, besides, I am told that the charting of these islands is pretty bad and not to be relied upon in any instance.