Saturday, May 17, 2008

The West Indies

Sint Maarten/Saint Martin
18 02.0N 63 05.8W

We had yet another motor sail overnight on Sunday and woke to sunrise over Sint Maarten our first Leeward Island and our first "proper" Caribbean island despite what the tourist brochures say!

The forecast northerly swells meant we traded French chic and sophistication ie St Martin for the Dutch side ie Sint Maarten, therefore hardly surprising that there was a strip club opposite customs and immigration! You can travel between the 2 sides quite freely so we have zoomed back and forth across the lagoon a few times in the past week, depending on whether we want spare parts (Dutch) or Pain Chocolat (French). The Dutch charge a lot more to be here and the French side is nicer so we must come back when the weather is better.

Marigot the French capital is very pretty, has a little fort that the French built overlooking the stunning harbour and has lots of great boulangerie and restaurants. According to the information boards, the French wanted to build the fort to protect the "inhabitants" of the island from the cruel and aggressive behaviour towards them of the English privateers and navy - another board says that the "inhabitants" were so overwhelmed by the French proposal that they agreed unanimously and showed their support by donating even more slaves to the builders than were necessary. So a not very inclusive use of the word inhabitants then!

We have passed our time here while we wait for a decent breeze to get further south catching up on long overdue maintenance, there is all the boat spares and expertise you can need here, so a great spot to start dismantling things. More later on that on the blog!

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