Saturday, April 07, 2007

BVI to St. Marten

The Heineken Regatta in St Martin is approaching fast and we are stuck in the top end of Virgin Gorda waiting for calmer weather for the passage across Anagada. A couple of boats that where determined to get there braved the big seas and paid for it with damage and seasickness. We decided that missing the race wouldn’t be such a bad thing and there would still be parties to attend.

The weather calmed and we headed off, a few days after the regatta , with several other boats. Seas were still up around 6-8 feet but the wind was down to 15knots, on the nose unfortunately. Made it in 18 hours compared to 30 the previous week and headed into the anchorage on the French side of the island. St Martin is split into two, the north being French and the south Dutch. Rumour has it that years ago, when they where fighting over ownership, a drunkard from each nation was placed at the north and south points of the island, given a bottle of rum each and told to walk towards each other until they passed out or met up. This would become the border line across the island!!! Basically the border passes through the center of the inland lagoon which provides a nice anchorage.

On the French side nice café’s were open early and offered typical French pastries for breakfast. Yummy. The supermarkets stocked nice European treats and good wine at ridiculously low prices. We were in heaven and , definitely, not on a diet. It was a great place for provisioning as further south the prices start to climb and the variety dwindles. Unfortunately the island itself is quite unattractive but, a great place for boat repairs, parts, etc.

Now, in the anchorage we were warned about the large swells which can roll in but, didn’t think too much about it until they arrived that is. One night I went to a wine tasting party on some friends trawler –Willy and Mary have an ex shrimp trawler, ‘Twilight’ converted into a private cruiser- in the lagoon. Meri wasn’t feeling up to it and stayed on Adagio. Having too much drink I decided to stay on Twilight for the night and head back in the morning as it was quite a hike in our slow dinghy. The following morning I was met with a look that could kill and told to up anchor immediately and head for the lagoon. Adagio had rolled from gunwale to gunwale all night due to a nasty swell that was rolling in. My poor wife didn’t sleep all night and had to jam herself in the bunk with every cushion available. I pulled up anchor so fast you would have thought a hurricane was approaching! We headed round the point and south to the Dutch entrance into the lagoon. Once inside it was calm seas no matter what the wind did. However, getting to the French side was quite a trip for our little slow dinghy so we frequented the somewhat grittier Dutch area.

Fortunately not all the Heineken Regatta contestants had left the island yet so we privileged to view some truly spectacular sail boats. One in particular, ‘Georgia’, was the largest sloop in the world at the time. Don’t remember the exact length but it had to be around 180”. They had a remote control cage that mounted on the sail track for crew to go up the mast unassisted! Nice boat but, the crew weren’t too friendly to us cruisers. Not in their league I guess.

Anyway, several friends had arrived in St Martin also so we hooked up and had lots of fun for a couple of weeks whilst provisioning for the trip south. We somehow avoided getting tossed into jail and left unscathed for Guadeloupe and all points in between.


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