Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Landfall: Sint Maarten!

We made a night passage from St. Croix to Sint Maarten last night, taking advantage of the light night winds and the current conditions of long easterly swells for a fairly decent crossing. It was a quiet night; there was nothing out there but a couple of huge cruise ships (Disney Magic for one, that seemed to light up the horizon from 10 nm away!) and we arrived at Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten at first light. We were sorry to leave Earthling behind in St. Croix, but know our paths will cross yet again, sometime, somewhere!

Last spring, we spent a couple of months on St. Martin on the northern French side, so clearing into the Dutch side at Simpson Bay Lagoon was a new experience. There were many more formalities, a few more fees, plus a bit more planning to do before you arrive. You must wait for the Simpson Bay Lagoon Bridge to open at specific intervals: outbound 0900, 1100, 1630; inbound 0930, 1130, 1730 during the busy season starting in November. So, we couldn't go through immediately once we made landfall. We dropped anchor briefly in the outer bay, while awaiting the scheduled time to clear through the bridge. The Dutch are nothing if not prompt with their schedules! :)

We are currently ensconced in Palapa Marina -- med-moored for the first time!  It seems to be the way most marinas do it in this part of the Caribbean, but not having done it before, we weren't really expecting it, nor were really ready for it. Nevertheless, we pulled it off: Ron doing his spectacular captaining job at the helm as I ran fore and aft, dropping the anchor as we backed into our slip, plus helping to pay out a very long, cobbled-together mooring line, and then trying to get stern lines set as well. (Someday I will get my port and starboard straight when I am facing aft, I promise!) It took us a bit of time to tie up the boat snug and secure to the wall within its "slip", but we did it! passerelle, of course. 
Our large neighbor to starboard. They do have a
passerelle. A big one. And many crew!
So, while St. Maarten wasn't initially in the itinerary, we will be here in the marina for a week or so while we get the davit inspected, detected and serviced, as well as get the water-maker working to specificiations. (Both frustrating issues, since we thought we had addressed each unit with preventative maintenance and care this summer! Especially the water-maker, which was re-built at the factory by Spectra in August and "guaranteed" to work to specs.) Oh well!! We're here, we're dealing with it, and trying to be upbeat! The happy part is that St. Maarten has very good marine services here, and both gentlemen who have been working on the repairs clearly have experience and know what what they're doing. Yay!

The other happy part is that we love St. Maarten/Martin! We can't wait to revisit the market in Marigot, have lunch at the lolos in Grand Case, dine with French cheeses, wine and baguettes on the aft deck, snorkel and dive, and relax at Orient Beach. Fun times ahead! :)

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