The dual nation of St. Martin/Sint Maarten is the smallest island in the world to be divided by two sovereign powers. To avoid confusion the two countries are usually referred to as the French side and the Dutch side.
Izzy R in the lead
After a long passage (13 hours) from St. Croix, we anchored in Baie du Marigot near the French side’s main city, Marigot, for the night. In the morning went into the protect waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon when the bridge opened at 0815.
The lagoon is also divided between the French and Dutch, but the delineation is anything but clear.
(Note yellow flag; we haven’t cleared customs, yet)
We opted to anchor and clear in on the French side because the fees are less ($7 US). Once cleared in, you are free to visit either side.
Izzy & Jeff
Clearance is accomplished at the marina offices where you find a computer to enter crew and boat data. The hardest part is mastering the French keyboard. It is much harder for touch typist than it is for us hunt n’ peckers.
In St Martin we also joined back up with the Izzy R and crew. We last saw them in Caicos.
Ringing the docks on the French side is a plethora of restaurants and small shops. However, once you get a block away from the docks it tends to get a little “rough.”
We did find this bakery to be quite enjoyable. Quiche and lattes became our breakfast of choice, and of course we had to pick up a baguette for later with brie cheese.
The Dutch side has a larger bridge, so they play host to the mega-yachts December through April. Most had already departed for the Mediterranean or points north. The cruise ships use the harbor at Phillipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side.
The Dutch area on the southeast side of the lagoon turned out to have the most attraction for the cruisers. As one cruiser informed us, enter and depart using the Dutch bridge, then anchor and clear in on the French side. Use the ATMs on the Dutch side because they give US dollars and you will not be stuck with Euros. Shopping is better on the Dutch side because it is duty free.
Cruisers getting their Internet fix at Lagoonies on the Dutch side.