Sunday, January 4, 2015

Celebrations and Wind Down

Jim's last few days with us coincided with the New Year celebration which we happily spent up in Grand Case.

We had made arrangements to meet up with Sam & George (Champlain) and Joanne & Gene (Eli Blue) and make an evening of it at Le Pressoire. We'd heard that this restaurant has been rated as the best restaurant on the island and is of course French cuisine, and despite the setting along the gritty hustle of the main street of Grand Case, once you step through the doors you are encased in the atmosphere and culture of a very bustling French bistro. Dinner consisted of shared buttery appetizers such as lobster bisque and conch tortellini, rich main dishes all with the offer of shaved truffle or a dollop of foie gras and desert was a delectable choice of creme brûlée, rich chocolate cake or caribbean sorbets. We finished off the evening with a toast of champagne on the back of Mowzer as fireworks were shot off overhead - not a bad way to mark the end of a truly eventful year and the promise of much adventure ahead! Can't believe I didn't have a camera with me :-(

The winds finally settled a little and with the threat of the Christmas winds arriving on the weekend we finally made it further along the coast to the island of Tintamarre. Jim noted immediately that the north shore of St. Martin is such as he had never seen it in other areas - it is uninhabited! Tintamarre itself is a pretty day anchorage but much too rolly at the moment for overnight. However, the main reason for going did not disappoint and we got to swim with a number of large turtles in anchorage.

Northeast point of SXM - only a quarry on this view of the island.
Tintamarre Island: not much to see on land and so rolly on the approach I couldn't even hold the camera straight!
Finally, we made our way back to Marigot on Friday ready for Jim's departure on Saturday but not before a final hike up to Fort Louis, lunch at the Banana Cafe for a good creole lunch of Chicken Colombo and a splashy wet dinghy ride to the airport.

As a footnote, Jim's flight was delayed by three hours in St. Martin, diverted to Miami where he had to wait over 15 hours for the flight to Toronto to resume. Hopefully home by 9:00pm Sunday night, almost 24 hours later!

Waiting for Jim's flight to take off, which I never did see, this rainbow appeared above the FKG rigging workshop.
While Jim waited out his time at the airport, we joined up with friends Dave & Alex (Banyan) whom we had originally met in the BVIs last March. They had just arrived from Antigua and we were pleased to be able to meet up before we depart SXM later this week. Lagoonies was offering up an evening of live music so off we went in the company of Jeff & Debbie (Sea Sparrow) for another delicious meal. Not sure what it says about us though other than we are truly pathetic because I think we all found the music rather loud and the crowds just too claustrophobic, so after the first set we headed back in our dinghies to our respective boats, ours being a truly soaking ride across the lagoon and out into the harbour as the rains came on.

Sea Sparrows, Banyans and Mowzer's - sounds like a fun group!
And the band played loud and long. They were pretty good, I think we just wanted to talk.
And finally, this is what I mean by the Christmas winds... This is a phenomenem that usually occurs in December and January (hence the name) when the trade winds are at their strongest, and in this Wind Guru view shows up with the orange and red wind numbers. It's been howling through the anchorage for the last couple of days, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Note that the seas are also pretty high at over 2 meters. I think we'll wait til Wednesday to consider our hop back to the Virgins.