Monday, May 15, 2006

St. Martin to Saba

We had great luck in the Anegada passage (the stretch of water between the British Virgin Islands and Saint Martin), sailing all the way. For a change our biggest problem was slowing the boat down so we didn't get there in the dark. The first part of our trip, down Drake's Passage between the Virgin islands to Virgin Gorda was one of the prettiest we've seen. We had our motor on 1/2 hour out of 20! During the night we talked to Dreamtime, Vagamundo, September Song and Evening Star. We anchored at Marigot Bay on the French side and it's lovely.

That first morning, still early, Scott was in heaven when he noticed our neighbors skinny dipping. His clothes were off in a flash and he was overboard!
Everything is colorful and combines the Caribbean and French culture to perfection. Our French is so rusty but unlike the Parisians, everyone is very kind and encouraging. An inlet with a small draw bridge leads into a huge totally protected lagoon. This picture shows a small marina with boats permenantly on the hard. Many had families and retired couples living on them. We went into the open air market Saturday morning, shopped and took lots of pictures. Clothing, fruits, vegetables, every kind of fresh spices in profusion, meat, fish, and unbelievable bread and pastries - all in very attractive and clean stalls along the waterfront. And the supermarket has a wall of cheeses, pates etc. that make picnics inevitable.

Sunday we rented a car for the day and circled the island. The weather wasn't great, mostly overcast, but our lunch at a beachside French resterant was fabulous! On another note, it's true that "naturalists" (nudists to us) are everywhere - including our own boat. We, of course, visited the nude beach after that wonderful lunch.

We also drove over to Philipsberg on the Dutch side of the island. There's a big difference between the two halfs. The Dutch side is packed with condos, high rise resorts and the capital city, although charming too, is frantically busy with tourists. The cruise ships land on this side!
As soon as the weather calmed down - it has been very squally - we headed southwest to Saba.The island is so small and yet so tall that it seemed to take forever to get there - we saw it from far away! We had an amazing time in Saba - this is my favorite island so far. It's a fantasy novel setting - a real Shangri-La. We spent two nights on a mooring at Wells Bay - gorgeous site, cliffs straight up around us. Saba is only 5 square mile but reaches 3000 feet. Houses perch in seemingly impossible positions on the edges of precipices. Until the early 40s Saba was almost inaccessible. Everything had to come and go via a set of 800 steps cut into the rock face.
Men stood chest deep in water to unload cargo, including a bishop and a piano (fun fact). In this last picture, especially if you double click on it to enlarge, the stairs run diagonally right about two thirds of the way below the white customs house, then drop straight down. That customs house is half way up the stairs! Until a small harbor was built in the 50's where you can land your dinghy, very few boats came there. Even today there are only five moorings in deep water off the island for cruisers. We tried to land our dinghy at that rocky beach shown in this picture but it was so steep the waves swamped it. Scott stood in that chest deep water holding the dinghy while I pumped out the water. It took a long time.

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1 comment:

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