Sint Maarten: Shopping and Carnival!

We arrived in Sint Maarten at 7am after an overnight passage from Cooper Island in the British Virgin Islands (BVIs). You may recall that Sint Maarten/St Martin is an island divided into two countries: The Netherlands and France. In the past we have stayed on the Dutch side in Simpson Bay outside the lagoon and dinghied in for shopping, restaurants  and to access the French side but the swell and winds were pretty uncomfortable on this occasion, even for a cat! The upside of staying in the bay is the water is cleaner allowing for  swimming and water-making. So, while everything was going up and down including my tummy,  we spent the day making water and swimming whilst planning to enter the lagoon the next day at the 9.30am opening for inward-bound boats.

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Simpson Bay Lagoon bridge in Sint Maarten. Photo taken from the lagoon side.

It’s funny to watch everyone ‘queueing’ beforehand. At 9.10am we lifted the hook and prepared to get in the queue. They appear to keep the bridge open until everyone is through but you want to make sure you’re in line, ready and waiting so you don’t miss the boat, I mean bridge! We motored over near or thereabouts to what looked like other boots jostling for position. Everyone is waiting, circling, waiting, but, as you can imagine, it’s hard to stay in a queue when everything is moving: the water, the wind, the boats! There was a large French Customs (Douane) boat wanting to go through and he was reversing and going forward whilst other smaller boats  circled. The queue looked like a dog’s breakfast! I took three short videos  if you are interested and you can check it out here.

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Large cat going through the bridge ahead of us. Photo taken when leaving the lagoon.

Being in the lagoon was good; windy but no swell and easier accessibility to shops, buses, restaurants. And, as mentioned above, we couldn’t swim or make water so we were just as keen to get out of there when we finally left for Nevis a week later.

During the week we caught up with old friends Izzy R and Wild Cat and met new ones, including some Aussies. George from Wild Cat organised a dinghy-drift where we met Annie and Cam (s/v Annacam) from Horsham in our home State, Victoria, and Frances and John (s/v Kia Ora) from Margaret River, Western Australia. We also met Canadians Catherine and Henry (s/v Mowzer) and Americans Janice and David (s/v Livin’ Life). Janice and David have been following our blogs and Facebook for about six months and it was lovely to meet them. A dinghy drift is normally done close to a full moon where dinghies tie up to a lead dinghy and cruisers share food, drinks and lots of stories whilst drifting along. As this one was in the lagoon and as the evening wore on we looked like side-swiping some moored boats, George and Jan tied up to a vacant mooring ball and we all hung off them just bobbing along. A very nice way to while away the evening 🙂 Photos courtesy of s/v Distant Shores.

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We were lucky enough to be in Sint Maarten for Carnival this year and it was fabulous fun. Each island seems to celebrate it slightly differently but it is always a mass of colour, costumes, loud music and super-friendly people. This Carnival was the Dutch-side celebration and held in Phillipsburg which plays host to 4-5 large cruise ships nearly every day but, the port was closed for Carnival thereby enabling all locals to attend. A group of 10 of us took a bus over and had a great day. If you’d like to see some short video clips of the carnival click here.

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Gorgeous women….
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Captivated crowds…… L-R: Guillaume, Gwen, Mark and moi.
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A rewarding beer after another great day with friends…

The last time we were in Sint Maarten we purchased a piece of beef tenderloin or, as we Aussies know it, fillet steak. We loved it so much we bought another one this time and using our FoodSaver vacuum system, we portioned it out and have several meals ready in the freezer. It’s such a great meal for the boat: quick to defrost, quick to bbq and delicious to eat with a salad or veggies. 🙂

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Our tenderloin ready for the freezer.

After a week of shopping for boat supplies, waiting for parts, provisioning, socialising and just having fun, a weather window opened and we left Sint Maarten for Nevis.

Until next time, cheers, Sue and Mal xox

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