Thursday, April 15, 2010

St. Martin; Sean & Courtney arrive

We arrived in St. Martin's with plenty of time before Sean and Courtney's arrival. Our good friends Linda and Ed (shown here below right) were there on "Dreamtime" already. It had been years since we've seen them and had been planning to get together for some time so it was a lovely reunion.

We left Georgetown in the Bahamas together almost five years ago and sailed down the eastern Caribbean with them the first time. We had several days of visiting and then they came over for breakfast the first morning of Sean and Courtney's visit to meet them.
We anchored at Simpson's Bay on the dutch side just in front of the drawbridge to the Lagoon and then entered the next day.

We were in a line up of many boats, many of them super yachts (that's Heather skippering through the drawbridge above). The previous time we anchored in Marigot Bay on the French side, a cheaper alternative, but as Sean & Courtney were flying in to St. Maartin, we made the decision to pay up, about $70 including the bridge fees.
We anchored not far off the airport. During our whole time there we had many mostly short showers and a number of beautiful rainbows (see above left). Scott brought the dinghy into the Turtle Pier bar/restaurant and walked over to pick them up. It was an unusual experience for them to walk out of the airport with their baggage and into a dinghy!

Luckily it was a nice night and they were soon at the boat eating a good dinner. This was a four day holiday Easter weekend and we thought Customs & Immigration wouldn't be open so the next day we exited the drawbridge and anchored in Simpson Bay so we could swim and snorkel. The water wasn't very clear but we got to see quite a few fish and some fun squid! Of course our very pale guests slathered themselves with sun tan lotion but even that couldn't protect Sean totally. The curse of being a red head. Good news the next day when we found Customs open and were able to clear out. The anchor was right up and we were off.

We had planned to head to St. Bart's but the weather was looking so good as we set sail that we turned the wheel around and headed for Saba. Boats can only visit Saba when it's relatively calm as there is no protected harbor on the island. The land basically goes straight up from the ocean. Only about 30 years ago the islanders built a small protected landing

spot and built a road from there up to the four small villages; Bottom, Windwardside, Hells Gate and St. John's. Most visiting boats pick up one of the deep water moorings either off the landing or on the west side near the old customs house. Saba can be seen from St. Martin on a clear day

and it looks like you're going to get there any minute until you finally realize how tall and steep it is - and how far away. You can see the rugged cliffs here in the two photos. In the second look in the water on the left and see how small the super yacht looks in contrast. We anchored in the second area at first and in two shifts dinghied down

to the landing. This turned out to be a little too exciting! Going downwind wasn't too bad but the trip back was rough. By this time too the boat was bouncing around pretty wildly. We decided to move the boat down to the area off the landing site. Courtney and I waited on land while Scott and Sean went back to move the boat. There was only one mooring left and after they left we noticed two boats sailing over from Stacia. It was a race to the mooring.
We stared at the edge of the cliff willing "Scott Free" to show herself. The other boats were clearly winning. Oh no!
And then they passed the mooring by! Thank goodness they decided to check out the other moorings first - poor guys. Our men charged around the island (that's them passing the breakwater here) and grabbed that empty mooring. It was a much more protected spot and much closer for the dinghy.
More about Saba and the rest of our trip in another posting!

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