Voyage of Traveler / Blog

February 10, 2010

Traveler Postcard from St. Martin, Anguilla and St. Barts

Filed under: Year 3: July09 - July10 Greece to Newport Beach, CA, Caribbean — mrlawlerjr @ 9:04 am

February 10, 2010

Hi, Everyone,
We are now in Virgin Gorda, the BVIs, which I’ll cover in my next Postcard. But I want to share with you now the three islands that we visited last week.

Feb. 1 - 5 Sint Maartin/St-Martin
We sailed 32nm north from Statia to Sint Maartin and dropped the hook in Simpson Bay.  The island was discovered by Columbus while on his second voyage on St. Martin’s Day in 1493.

This is the smallest island (90 sq km) in the world shared by two countries, France and the Netherlands.  The southerly two-fifths is Sint Maartin, known as the Dutch side.  The northerly three-fifths is St-Martin, known as the French side.  The two sides have a different language, currency, flags, laws and police.  The border was drawn following a walking race in 1648 between a Frenchman and a Dutchman.  The race began at Oyster Pond on the east coast, a small bay the two decided would be best shared.  The Frenchman, with a bottle of brandy, walked north, counterclockwise, along the coast, while the Dutchman, with a bottle of gin, walked south, clockwise. Despite the more rugged terrain in the northerly half, the Frenchman covered more ground.  They met on the west coast of the island at Long Bay.  Since then the division of the island was never questioned and the two countries have lived peacefully as neighbors, with their two flags fluttering side by side in the same breeze for over three centuries.

My daughter, Kellie (age 23), flew in here to re-join the Traveler crew, and plans to be with Yansen, her brother Brian and me for at least a couple of months.

It was very rolly the first two nights at anchor out in the bay, so we paid the $35 bridge fee and passed through the raised drawbridge to spend the third and fourth nights in the still waters of the lagoon.  In the outer bay you can swim off the boat, which is nice.  But the water in the lagoon is a little too polluted to swim or make water with the watermaker.

Lots of mega yachts, power and sail, here.  This is, they say, the yachting Mecca of the Eastern Caribbean.  Lots of fun, yacht-friendly bars, with full dinghy docks and $1 beers for happy hour.

We stood with a crowd of tourists on the beach at the downwind end of the airport’s runway.  The beach bar there posts the arrival times on a chalkboard.  The huge jets passed just overhead before landing, giving quite a thrill.

We also enjoyed Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side.  They have the most charming two hundred year-old courthouse, which I thought at first must be a museum, but it is still the only courthouse on the Dutch side.  I sat on a wooden pew in a courtroom to see how they do things here.  Quite differently.  A criminal trial was going on, in Dutch, with no jury, but instead with three judges.  The judges and attorneys all wore fancy robes and wigs.

We dinghied north across the lagoon to the French side for lunch and to walk around Marigot, the capital and largest city on the French side. After a nice (expensive!) lunch at a waterfront cafe, we bought some spices from an open air market, then hiked up to Fort St. Louis for a look around.

Feb. 5.  Anguilla.  We exited the Simpson Bay Lagoon when the draw bridge opened at 0900 and motor sailed first up to have lunch and snorkel at Happy Bay on the French side of St-Martin, and then across the narrow channel, only 5nm, to the neighboring island of Anguilla, a British Dependent Territory.

Laid-back Anguilla seems the last place on earth to have a revolution. But in 1967, when the British decided to de-colonize their Caribbean possessions and lump Anguilla in with St. Kitts and Nevis, the Anguillans didn’t want that to happen and staged a surprising, successful revolution AGAINST their independence.   The Anguillans rounded up a small detachment of St. Kitts policemen and simply deported them, rolling out an antique cannon to the beach and shouting for them to never return.  Word of this insult traveled slowly, and the British government, embarrassingly out of touch, sent armed paratroopers to their colony to put down the ‘uprising,’ a full two years later!  They were greeted by the delighted locals, waving the British flag and cheering “Hip, hip, hooray!” and “God save the Queen!”  The London press dubbed the fiasco Britain’s Bay of Piglets.

The beaches on Anguilla are incredible, the best we’ve seen anywhere on the planet. And the snorkeling is excellent, too.  We enjoyed a sight-seeing taxi-ride tour of the island, a happy hour at the Resort at Shoal Bay and then picked up some barbecue chicken and ribs at a popular roadside stand to take back to Traveler for dinner.

Feb. 6.  We sailed to St. Barts, but made two stops along the way.  The first was back on the French side of St-Martin at Orient Bay, the world famous nude beach.  With Traveler at anchor off the beach, Brian and I kayaked along the water’s edge.  About ten minutes of that is all you need to say you’ve ‘been there, done that.’  We were soon back on Traveler, headed back to St. Barts,  but made a second stop at a small horseshoe-shaped island that is a Marine Reserve.  Here we picked up a mooring, went snorkeling again and barbecued lunch, then made the final three miles to Gustavia, St. Barts.  Arriving just in time to see a spectacular sunset from Shell Beach, we then walked through the charming, upscale, mostly-restored town until we found Le Select.  This is the popular restaurant and bar known for their Cheeseburgers In Paradise, made famous by Jimmy Buffet.  There is a photo of Jimmy playing guitar on the small stage at the bar there–what a great place to see him perform in concert!  Of course, we had a few beers and a couple of the cheeseburgers, which were disappointingly modest, but the lively scene was memorable.  We found St. Barts to be much like a Caribbean version of St. Tropez.

Living the Dream,
with Kellie, Brian and Yansen

1 Comment »

  1. Loved the descriptives of St Martin, Anguilla and St Barts and the times you had there. We remain in The Windwards. Presently in Martinique. Plan to sail to Dominica tomorrow. We’ll link up with friends on Lista Light and enjoy Carnival there. Still on track for your Panama crossing in late March?

    Comment by Ellen Birrell — February 12, 2010 @ 5:59 am

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