Our sail from the British Virgin Islands to St. Marten went smooth and we arrived around mid-night in Marigot Bay, we laid the anchor and went to bed. In the morning we got up early and climbed into the dingy to check into the country. Ed and I waited for Matt at a French cafe, which took less than five minutes. Apparently, you just check-in at a kiosk and no one even stamps your passport (I was definitely disappointed to learn that I would not have that additional stamp). We ordered breakfast, crepes and chocolate croissants with cappuccino; I think I can get use to this. Afterwards, we went for a stroll around the city, however, it was still too early for many of the stores to be open. We loved the place with cute cafes along the water front and nice shopping everywhere (maybe only I was interested in the shopping). Matt had a friend of his in the harbor so we left to go find him and see if we could help him with some boat projects. Ed decided to stay in the city and keep walking around and we planned to met up for lunch later that day.
We rode the dingy over to Davies boat, a long time friend of Matts from his days living in St. Augustine, and the two caught up with one another and made plans to work on his boat and have dinner together the following night. Davie is sailing alone while he makes his way down island to meet his wife in Grenada. He sails a old ketch and has numerous stories about life on the sea.
When we met back up with Ed he explained that it was carnival on the Dutch side of the island so we immediately hopped a bus over to Phillipsburg. The reason there are two spellings for the island is because one side is French and the other side is Dutch. St. Marten is the french side and Sint Maarten is the Dutch side. The legend on how the two countries decided to split the island was a gentleman’s manner of walking across the island as a means to partition it. They all started in Oyster Pond and the French walked northward and the Dutch walked south. During the walk the Dutch drank gin while the French drank wine. The Dutch had to stop and sleep off the effects of the alcohol while the French marched on and ended up with a larger section. Stop any local in St. Martin and ask them where the party or night life is and everyone will say tell go to the Dutch side, some things haven’t changed I guess. We arrived in Phillipsburg and walked around the various markets full of clothes and trinkets to sell to tourists. The bars all advertised dollar beers and you could see some people passed out on tables (It was about 1:00pm). We wandered up and down all the streets going in and out of stores and stopping for a bite to eat. When we could not stand the tourist area anymore we headed back to Marigot Bay to relax and have dinner. Ed heard about a party bar with a nude beach nearby over in Orient Bay so he decided to continue his explorations and met us back in Marigot for dinner. We found a nice cafe along the water to sit and have drinks and use free wifi while we waited for Ed to return, hopefully with some good stories.
The next morning we went into town to get breakfast and check out the the market, I found some beautiful pieces of art to buy made of coconut fiber. We were back at the boat before lunch and Matt went over to Davies to help him with some boat chores while Ed and I went to do boat chores for Kokoi. When we all finished our tasks we went back into town to seek out a sandwich shop one of the locals said we had to try. It took some effort to find this small place with a blue door but it was worth it, the sandwich was huge and tasty for $3.00. Man we love this place! Good coffee, great food, cheap! The primary language spoken is French but we managed to get by and everyone was very helpful.
Davie came over that night and we made steak for dinner, it was excellent. The next morning we pulled anchor and sailed around the island to Orient Bay. The anchorage was perfect, the view was incredible and we had good snorkeling (still not allowed to spear fish), however, taking the dingy into the beach to dock was a challenge. We spent our time in Orient Bay going snorkeling, walking around the city, taking turns surfing behind the dingy and relaxing at the bar with free wifi. We had the best time on this side of the island and have decided when we come back again to anchor in Grand Case right next to Orient Bay. We took a taxi one night over to Grand Case and went to Calmos Cafe and had the best night dancing to a local salsa band. The place was packed full of people eating dinner and drinking all night. The floor was beachy sand and it opened up to the shore. The moon was full and we fell in love with the atmosphere. Another evening we took a taxi to listen to a local band play reggae music and had a chance to talk more with the local people that lived there. Our last night in Orient Bay we went to the full moon party on the beach and felt like we were in a European Club with techno music funky lights, a pole dancer, fashion show, and everyone speaking French.
Before we left St. Marten we got a ride over to Maho so we could watch the airplanes take off and land, definitely a tourist thing to do but incredible all the same. The airplanes are just across the street from you, we watched a KLM European Megajet take off and had to hold onto the fence to keep from stumbling backwards. The last experience we had in St. Marten before leaving was to listen to a timeshare presentation in exchange for 4 nights free at the local Westin Beach Resort. It was funny to watch Matt piss off our sales men to the point where he got up and walked away. All Matt did was question the numbers and ask to take the information home to review. In order to go on this presentation we had to pretend to be a rich married couple that was not living on a boat, of course we have on beach clothes, I am carrying a dry bag as a purse and Matts hair is full of dreads, I am not sure they believed we were the couple we claimed. Needless to say I have a gift I can give to someone who wants a 4 night stay at the Westin in St. Marten for the cost of tax and redeemable from April to December 2016.
You can’t see it in the picture, but the pilots wave every time they pull up to the runway for takeoff. They have huge smiles on their faces as they turn the plane down for takeoff, e-brake and rev up the engines to speed. Probably laughing in the cockpit thinking about all the dumb tourist behind them getting blasted with jet fumes, sand, and small pebbles from their washout. I’m pretty sure these guys love it! I have to admit it was awesome nonetheless and something that just has to be seen and done in real life.