After enough rolling in the harbor at Statia, we departed for St. Martin/Sint Maarten. We had hoped to stop at Saba on our north bound leg, but that was not going to happen. The swell at Saba can make the island untenable for getting to shore via a dinghy, not to mention trying to sleep while hanging on to the bed.
St. Barthelemy (St. Barts)
Stopping at St. Barts was another option which we had done on a previous trip (see: archived posting, May 17, 2012). But, this is their high season, so the possibility of getting a mooring inside the harbor at Gustavia was slim to none. There is an anchorage just outside of the harbor, but it is reported as quite rolly.
Our sister ship, the Izzy R, went to Anse du Colombier on the northwest corner of the island and reported that it was quite nice. There are marine park moorings, nice beaches, hiking, and the dinghy ride into to Gustavia is not too bad – next time.
St. Martin/Sint Maarten
The dual nation island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten offers plenty of anchoring and marina options. Marigot Bay on the north side is good if there is no north swell. Grande Case is noted for its French restaurants. From Orient Bay you can watch the nude sun bathers on Orient Beach. At Philipsburg you can anchor in the bay where the large cruise ships come to visit. Simpson Bay is fairly well protected and offers easy access to services.
Motivator’s crew prefers going through the Dutch Bridge and grabbing Andy’s mooring on the Dutch side. Andy is an Australian expatriate and jack of all trades who lives in a motor-less motor yacht on the French Side.
Anchorage on the French side
There seems to be a lot of Andys on the French side because they do not charge for their bridge or anchoring. One of our budget conscious friends calls anchoring on the French side living in “the hood.”
Anchorage on the Dutch side with mega yachts in the background
For a boat the size of Motivator there is a $21 USD charge for the bridge and a $40 per week anchoring fee on the Dutch side. We find the Dutch side to be a little more attractive. The bridge to be dependable (the French bridge was broken for the first week we were here). We are closer to the services we prefer. We also feel somewhat safer due to the Dutch patrol boats. I guess you get what you pay for.
New Causeway Bridge
The big news in The Lagoon was that the new causeway bridge is operational. Opening times for the Causeway Bridge are 15 minutes before or after the inbound and outbound opening times for the Dutch Bridge leading into the lagoon.
A dedication ceremony for the New Causeway Bridge was scheduled for the weekend after our arrival. The bridge is well lit with color changing lights, but that was not enough. The fireworks were the most spectacular we have ever seen. It was a highly orchestrate affair with fireworks originating from several different locations along the bridge. From our front row seating on Motivator it was so overwhelming; we forgot to grab a camera.
The Bridge Walk
Joining the crews of Banyan and Izzy R, we did our own bridge dedication by hiking across it.
By perfectly timing our hike (actually dumb luck) we got to watch an opening.
These hard working young men standing in the shade of the newly planted palm tree are finishing up the landscaping on the roads leading to the bridge. We feel somewhat invested in the new bridge because we have watched it being built on our previous visits to Sint Maarten (see: archive postings, May 14, 2012; March 1, 2013 and June 1, 2013).
Again, we are blown in. The current weather pattern has created long periods of high winds and waves that we want to avoid when we do the passage to the Virgin Islands. Oh well, it is warm here, there are a bunch of great restaurants, and there is plenty to do.