St Barts ann St Martin

St Martin

St Barts

 

What a sight coming into St Barts, mega yachts left right and centre. Little did we know that we had arrived on Friday of the Bucket race weekend for yachts over 100ft. Also we had anchored towards the outer side of the anchorage that gave us a great view of the race start the next morning. What a spectacle indeed as we sat back at midday beer o’clock to watch the action.


 

One of the most spectacular vessels was the Maltese Falcon, looks like a square rigger except the all the spars are aluminum and there are no ropes. Sails unfurl automatically and the masts rotate for different sailing angles.

 

 

Hard to imagine it racing but it certainly was. After the race, a few hours, we went in to see them docking. Laid out on the dock were some sails showing a certain amount of "wear and tear", more tear. Spinnakers and headsails were busily been re-sewn right there. So many mega yachts tied up one alongside the other was quite a sight.

 

 

After a short excursion around the town we decided to head off to St Martin.

 


The island  is split, part French St Martin, part Dutch, Sint Maarten, with "the border" a sort of imaginary line over the land and through the big lagoon some 3 to 4 miles in diameter. Entry to the lagoon is via the Dutch lift bridge on the Southern side and French lift bridge on the Northern side. We arrived late afternoon and, coming from the South,  anchored outside the Dutch bridge. After hearing stories of high costs to go through the Dutch bridge we decided to sail around the outside to the French, no cost, bridge as we wanted to anchor in the French side of the lagoon somewhere near our friends Jan and Richard on Scorpio. We made our way through the very narrow and in places, shallow,  lagoon channel, without hitting the bottom and found Scorpio. Richard and Jan had been here for several weeks while Richard was attending the MaritimeCollege and had passed his commercial skippers ticket, the requirement to be a commercial charter skipper.

Scorpio would soon be up for chartering in the waters of the Eastern Caribbean. It was a great reunion, perhaps just a little too much happy spirit consumed during the catch up dinner on board Scorpio. They were having a major problem with their Northern Lights generator, same model as ours. It turned out to we water damage in the head of the engine which Northern Lights claimed was due to salt water ingress although they admitted the generator was fitted to specification they denied warranty. Very, very disappointing.

 

We had "things to do". Jobs on Ednbal to prepare for our up and coming Atlantic crossing as well as make room for visitors, niece Michelle and other half John, arriving in 2 weeks to stay for 9 weeks and cross with us. In the lagoon it was smooth waters with ready access to well stocked marine, hardware and food stores, once you found them of course. It was all go by time to go the local yachties haunt for happy hour the second night we were there. Off in the dingy we followed Jan and Rich to the pub on the other side of the lagoon, about 2 miles away. A few beers, hamburgers for dinner, a couple more refreshments then back to the boat. Easy, until we lost sight of Rich and Jan on the moonless night. With no bearing on Ednbal we went to where we thought she was. Wrong. Toured around on the dingy looking at other boats, no Ednbal. After a brief "discussion", we decided to follow the shore line of the completely enclosed lagoon around until we found Ednbal as we knew roughly how far from shore we had anchored. After running aground once and having intimate contact with most boats in the lagoon we eventually found Ednbal a couple of hours later. To try and save embarrassment I went well away from Scorpio to the other side of Ednbal so that we would not be noticed. No chance, Rich had even been out in his dingy looking for us!

 

Before we knew it the big day arrived, 10 April, Mish and John flew in, on time, all luggages in tact.

It’s not bad when you can take your dingy to the airport, right alongside the lagoon, to pick people up. Even got them back to the boat without getting their luggage wet, couldn’t' say the same for the passengers, welcome dingy rides on choppy water. Sasha had the guest cabin and head (shower/toilet combination) shining like a new pin, bed made up, even with welcome aboard gifts on it, a 3 liter cardboard cask of rum for John and a bottle banana liqueur rum for Mish. After all this is the Caribbean! The plan, to spend a couple of days relaxing in St Martin, have a look around and then off on an overnight sail to the British Virgin Islands.

 

A couple of more visits to shops, top up with perishables, beer and fuel and we are almost ready to go. But, before we do there is one major attraction to visit, which we do with Jan and Rich, the airport blast. At sunset beach, right at the Western end of the runway, there are a number of bars either end of a road just outside the fence at the end of the runway.

 

When the big planes, 747s and 767s, turn at the end of the runway to take off they are only about 100m from the fence. Now for the blast, as a plane is about to take off you hold onto the fence, for dear life, right behind the plane, and wait to get blasted by the engines. The blast is so strong that it nearly blows your feet away from under you as you hold onto the fence rail. Of course there are warning signs against such a practice but it just has to be done! A few good rum punch’s from the bar certainly help pluck up the courage.

 

Of course there are warning signs against such a practice but it
just has to be done! A few good rum punch’s from the bar certainly help pluck
up the courage.