Sunday, April 1, 2012

Inner Waters of St. Martin/Sint Maarten

Sunday in Marigot and everything except the churches and a few market stalls is locked up tight for the day. Being nice and quiet this was a day for us to explore the area so we started with Fort St. Louis.

The Fort is now in ruins that sit perched on the hill overlooking the marina named in its honour. As we wound our way up the hill we were accompanied by many carrying palm fronds. Being the heathens that we are, it took a moment to register that it is Palm Sunday and they are making their way up to a large cross on the hillside below the fort for an open-air service.

The fort itself offers spectacular views of Marigot, the anchorage, across Simpson Bay Lagoon and the other way up to Anguilla. With a little bit of clambering and a few signs explaining the history of the fort and the pride of the community in its construction at the time, it doesn't take long to cover the site.

For the afternoon we headed off under the bridge at Sandy Ground and into Simpson Bay Lagoon. The Lagoon is like a huge inland (salt-water) lake that is divided by the border between the French and Dutch sides. If we took the big boat we would have to do the whole customs thing of checking out and back in, but by dinghy or car you are free to travel between the two sides. The lagoon is an interesting mix of cruising boats anchored out surrounded by the biggest yachts we have ever seen, tied up at the various marinas on the Dutch side. The anchorage was a bit reminiscent of Coral Bay on St. John for us but the marinas were definitely upscale from anything else. There are two chandleries but unfortunately with it being a Sunday, both were closed. We stopped off on the Dutch side for lunch at Lee's Roadside Grill and while the food was good, the service was absolutely abysmal. We finished off our tour with what felt like a run that went forever down the channel in the middle of the lagoon but when we looked at our GPS track later, we realized we had still only covered about half of the water area. Sitting off the end of the runway watching the planes take off overhead reminded us of sitting on Maho Beach at the other end watching them land when we'd been here before.

The winds are dying off completely and this evening the water is almost completely flat in the anchorage. The forecast looks for much of the same through this week with winds in the 8-10 knot range so we'll fill up with fuel in the morning just to be safe before we head off up-island to some of the less serviced spots.

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