Thursday, 30 January 2014

4/2014 St. Maarten

Hi from Clare,                                        Tuesday 28th January 2014

We are now on the island of St Maarten after beating to windward in 16 knots of breeze for 21 hours. To complete the 80 mile trip we tacked three times and sailed 120 miles in fairly lumpy seas.

The new stove and taking down the old radar

Our main objective in St Maarten was to buy some new items for the boat. So far we have purchased new pumps for the toilets, a stove for the galley and digital radar. Andrew is in the process of installing the new radar. We are anchored in Simpson lagoon in flat water and although very windy this will be his best chance.

SLIPSTREAM and the iBoat.

St Maarten is an interesting place because firstly, half the island is Dutch and the other half is French and secondly, there is a huge variation between the wealth spent around the boating world and the local infrastructure. Within the lagoon there are numerous mega yachts. Just for interest I photographed 'Slipstream' owned by Simon Cowell ( Xfactor fame) and the futuristic mega yacht built by Steve Jobs (Apple). Unfortunately Steve didn't live long enough to enjoy this beautiful vessel. Also from the lagoon we can see many nice homes, good restaurants and top quality shops.

However as little as one block away from the lagoon it's a different story. The local streets are narrow with no footpaths, the drains are open gutters and water runs down the street, the gutters are broken, the pot holes are numerous, the rubbish skips are smelly and uncovered and the buildings are shabby. I was saddened by one particularly bare and depressing alley way called 'Willow Tree Drive' - a far cry from the mental picture this pretty name evoked. But somehow amongst all this, it seems to work. We had lunch at a Latino café one day as the food was highly recommended and justifiably so. The boom box was very loud and they turned it down momentarily to take my order. We ate on the veranda (as far away from the boom box as possible) and watched the car wash operations across the road. A local lady was having her car washed and instead of waiting in an air-conditioned lounge with a cup of coffee, she was given a bottle of coke, seated on a plastic chair 2-3 metres in front of the car and she lurched backwards every time the hose spray came too close.
New Causeway Bridge and our cruising friends

Since last here two years ago a causeway has been built across the lagoon. We are anchored on the Dutch side close to the causeway. We had a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday night to mark the opening. There were five trucks of fireworks strategically positioned along the causeway. Our friends joined us on Eye Candy for drinks as we had front row seats.
Beyond the causeway on the French side of the lagoon, there has been a few dinghy thefts and boats boarded at night. We have all been warned not to leave anything out and to lift the dinghy at night and padlock it whenever ashore. The police are questioning some youths around fifteen years of age. It seems that they are after anything portable to sell at the local flea market.

The Dutch Bridge and this guy was too late so he took the bypass

Bridge traffic from the YC Bar 

Upon our arrival we met up with Aussie friend Mark on 'Sea-life'. We last saw Mark in New York when he came to a Broadway Show and Yankee Stadium with us. He has been in St Maarten for some time. We met again at the Yacht Club and from the observation deck we watched the yachts passing through the narrow Dutch bridge at the five o clock opening. Some of the larger power boats just scrape through and the crowd, fired with a few drinks, happily cheer and clap each arrival. Judging by the reception one would think these boats have just completed an ocean passage. More likely they have spent the day at the beach around the corner. It's just a bit of fun and in a terrific atmosphere.
Also at the Yacht Club we caught up with Tony and Jill on 'Nychea' whom we meet at Virgin Gorda and JW and Jenny on 'Over Budget' who did the Salty Dawg Rally with us. In fact we have spent some time each day with these four people chatting on one of the boats, going out to dinner or having drinks together. Tomorrow we are going to a French restaurant for lunch on the French side of the lagoon - lock up the dinghy!

We will be here for a few more days fitting the radar and waiting for the right weather to sail to St Barts and then Antigua; all is well.

Love Candy xx

At 2:43 AM27/01/2014 (utc) our position was 18°02.43'N 063°05.69'W

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