Our first impressions of St. Maarten (the Dutch side of St. Martin) were through groggy, sleep deprived eyes having motor sailed through the night from the BVI. We arrived on Saturday morning, checked in and did a bit of exploring. The streets are narrow and crowded, the shops are small and close together. This is the section that we have arrived in, and I certainly don't want to judge the rest of St. Martin /St. Maarten by one section of one town. We found a wonderful Indian restaurant for lunch, but as seems to be the case with most restaurants we go to in the Caribbean - when the bill comes it is a bit of sticker shock. I know that this is something that we had figured into our budget, but that does not help that sinking feeling when the bill is presented.
The next day was Sunday. A very quiet day. We took our dinghy over to the French side of the island. When taking a cruising boat from one side to the other you have to check out of the first side and check in to the second. If you are on foot, in a car or in a dinghy there is free movement between the sides, no customs, no border checks, no fees. We did not spend much time that day on the French side, just long enough to get some wonderful baguettes, soft cheese and chocolate croissants. At this point we were wondering just what Sint Maarten had to offer us.
Then came Monday. On Monday we were able to listen to the Cruisers Net on VHF Channel 10. This is the heart of communication among cruisers in St. Martin /St . Maarten. Cruisers announce arrivals and departures, activities, services offered and items to buy or sell. By mid morning we had found someone to work on our wind generator, had a lead on buying a kayak, signed up for a "Hike from Hell", found out about a "Ladies Luncheon" on Wednesday, Mexican Train Dominos on Sunday and Texas Hold-em Poker on Monday. Suddenly we needed a calendar to keep all of our activities straight!
|The dinghy dock on St. Martin (French side)|
The "Hike from Hell" was a hike to Sint Maarten's highest point, Sentry Hill. We brought dinner up with us, enjoyed the sunset and hiked back down the rather treacherous trail in the dark, with flashlights, of course.
|Flag of Sint Maarten flying from the top of Sentry Hill.|
Short synopsis of other activities : Wind generator got fixed, I have a kayak and Bob came in 3rd in the Poker tournament. Pretty successful all around.