Sunday, June 24, 2012

St Martin/St Maarten : a little piece of Europe
4th-6th April 2012
As the alarm on Liam’s watch broke the silence on GWTW we rolled out of bed and threw the kettle on. It was just before 6am and the first rays of sunlight were poking over the hill. Our day had begun. We needed an early start for the 80 mile trip across to St Martin as we sure didn’t want to arrive there in the dark. Leaving the anchorage at Saba Rock we followed a well marked channel  through the reefs which proved to be a bonus as it cut a good 3 miles off the trip. Tehani Li had left the anchorage earlier than us and after a few hours they went from being a dot on the horizon ahead to being beside us.

With a combination of light air sailing and motoring we arrived at St Martin just on dusk. The highlight of the trip across was spotting a very big whale crossing our path a couple of miles from the anchorage. It was a real shame that he dived and then resurfaced too far away for us to get a photo.
Last year on our way north we stopped in St Martin for a couple of days but this time we’d only be here about 36 hours. Long enough to stock up on some nice French goodies and take a walk up to the remains of Fort Louis that overlooks Marigot bay.
After a good night’s sleep we headed into town before the day got too hot. The hike up to the old fort took about 30 mins and the views from the top were stunning. It was a lovely clear day and we had great views of Simpson Bay lagoon on the Dutch side of the Island, and way off in the distance the outline Saba Island could be seen some 30 miles away. 
st martin fort louis 2
IMG_9094      IMG_9095
Walking back from the fort the streets were a myriad of colour with brightly coloured  market stalls lining the waterfront and hand-painted murals turning otherwise drab walls into works of art.

The waft of freshly baked baguettes tempted our taste buds and we tossed up where to stop for lunch. There were lots of  options. With the fondness that the French have for food there was definitely no shortage of restaurants in this town, although it was one of the boulangeries (bakeries) that ultimately won our hearts. We even managed to resist the tantalizing assortment of pastries and cakes on offer too.

The rest of our day revolved around a little duty free shopping, picking up a few supplies from the supermarket.and  having a parting sundowner with Phil and Karel from Tehani Li at a pleasant waterfront bar.They too were heading down to Trinidad but at a much more civilized pace.
From now on we would be sailing on our own.


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