Wednesday, February 16, 2011

St. Martin, French West Indies!!

Ron and I dropped the mooring and left at 9:30p, for a starry night crossing from our anchorage at Cooper island, BVI. We opted to leave at night so that we would arrive at St. Martin in the morning -- I prefer not to arrive at a new port in the dark! We cruised along at a relaxed 7 knots (sometimes slower due to the current) in 4’-7’ easterly swells, with the trade winds were moderate, east at 14-19 kts, right on our nose. We had a  loping hobby-horse ride; it wasn’t smooth as silk but certainly nothing unbearable, either, and it eased as we moved into the wee morning hours. No crashing waves spraying the pilothouse!! In fact, no crashing waves whatsoever, just swells.

Land Ho! St. Martin on the horizon
St. Martin/Sint Maarten is a small island, only 34 square miles, and is the smallest island shared by two nations, the French and the Dutch. As is typically the case in the Caribbean, the island changed hands several times during its history, between the Spanish, French and Dutch. After a tumultuous hundred years, Spain finally  abandoned the island, and Dutch and French colonists jumped at the chance to occupy the island once more. The French came from St. Kitts, the Dutch from St. Eustatius, to claim the land.

Folklore insists that the division of the country (in 1648) was done by having a Frenchman, armed with good French wine and a Dutchman, similarly armed with his favorite drink, "jenever" (Dutch Gin), walk from opposite shores. Where the two met in the middle was the demarcation line of the frontier, dividing St.Martin from Sint Maarten. Because the French side is larger by 20 square miles, it was said that the stronger gin was the undoing of the Dutchman, since the Frenchman walked farther than his counterpart. On the other hand, the Dutch locals tended to blame the French walker for running! More reliable historical accounts indicate that the French had a large navy waiting just off St. Martin's shores and won the majority of the territory by force.

We opted to tuck in the secluded north bay of Anse Marcel, and treated ourselves to slip at the Radisson Blu Resort Marina and Spa. While Marigot Bay farther south has an amazing anchorage, many marinas and a bustling array of shops, restaurants, and other services being in the capitol of French St. Martin, the highly touted Heineken Regatta is coming in a week, so things are even more crowded and bustling than usual. SO -- in search of a bit of quiet solitude for the moment, we headed north. (We’ve had our fill of crowded anchorages in the BVI!)

After meeting Olivier, the Capitainiere (Dockmaster) here at the Marina, we got settled in and gave Equinox a good wash-down of the boat. Mid-afternoon, we crashed for a bit before an early dinner and enjoying a quiet night aboard. The marina is surrounded by mountains, literally nestled into this little bowl of an anchorage, so it's very protected. Birdsong in the evening and morning is incredible, since the foliage is so thick and the mountainous area surrounding the marina relatively undeveloped. Very cool place to be!!

The view of Anse Marcel and the inner marina from the mountainside above.
Equinox is in the center of the photo, docked near the end of the pier.
A better view of Equinox nestled in her slip

1 comment:

  1. Since you are in St Martin, I thought this article on the islands dining spots would be appropriate. Should you visit any of these locations let us know what you think.


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