Monday, January 27, 2014

Leaving Saint Martin

We sailed around the north side of St Martin to check out what the island had to offer away from the big metropolis of Marigot and Simpson Lagoon.  At the beach town of Gran Case we ran into some cool rusty stuff – a 19th century salt grinder. Back in those days salt was not frowned on as it is now. Salt was the preferred way to preserve foods, giving the world fine dining like salt-fish.
GranCaseIMG_4001 Gran Case is known for its fine dining. Here’s a Conde Naste style fine dining place that I didn’t take Chris to.
GranCaseIMG_4003 Here’s the French-Vietnamese restaurant that I did take Chris to. I think you can tell she’s just not ready for the Conde Naste experience. Think what the picture would be like if she was using a knife and fork instead of chop sticks.
We headed off to Isle Tintamare on the NE end of the island in search of some good snorkeling. The small island is part of a marine park. There’s no anchoring allowed and they have put in place 17 moorings for visiting boats to protect the fragile bottom. At least that’s what it said in the tourist guide we picked up in Marigot. We get there and there’s two moorings installed with dozens of boats anchored. The water is full of very white skinned people on foam noodles getting up close to the resident entertainment turtle. We took the dink around to the next bay – where there really is no anchoring – to try our luck at snorkeling. If this isn’t typically French, they put in a whole reef and then forgot to add any fish. Pretty disappointing.
After a day we made our way back to Marigot to check-out of St Martin for a trip to St Barts, the next island south. Easy check in and check out at Marigot - US$7 each way.
StMartinIMG_4032  In celebration of us leaving the island they decided to throw a small fireworks show. Actually, the horizontal red line you see above is the lights on the new Causeway Bridge. The island of St Martin is half French and half Dutch, about 30,00 people on the French side and 35,000 on the Dutch. There is a large navigable lagoon that is entered either by the French bridge in the north or the Dutch bridge in the south. The Dutch decided to run a long causeway and draw bridge straight across the lagoon on their side to speed up traffic. The fireworks were to celebrate the official completion of the bridge and to graciously thank a bunch of politicians.
Going through these draw bridges is interesting. The bridge tenders really don’t want to slow up the vehicle traffic, so they come down hard on the boats. We heard one bridge tender yelling with a Caribbean-Dutch accent at a group of transiting boats, “Move up closer! This isn’t a funeral!!
StMartinIMG_4009 While it looks like the bridge is burning down, along with a few of the boats anchored in front of it, I doubt the Dutch would have let that happen. They seem like a pretty regimented and organized group.
 IlleFoucheIMG_4037 We sailed off the next day for St Barts. On the way we stopped at Ille Fourche ( a marine park of St Barts) for a quick snorkel. This time they remembered to add fish to the reef. We have friends, Tony and Shannon from Mexico, who have asked us to look out for a good deal on a fixer-up catamaran. This one seemed like it was there for the asking. Add the rig back, rebuild the engines, buff out those hull scratches and you’d have a nice boat.

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