Thursday, March 01, 2007

Monday 26th February

(French) Simpson Bay Lagoon
St. Martin

18 02.683 N
63 05.508 W


We had much debate between the 2 boats about what we needed to do about customs today, as we had cleared into the French side then left without clearing out, we weren’t sure if we could just enter on the Dutch side and go straight through the imaginary line in the lagoon to the French side or if we would have to clear out of the French side, clear in and out on the Dutch side and then clear back in on the French side when we crossed the imaginary line in the lagoon. Phew – it sounds too complicated reading that back! We listened to the cruisers net and asked the question in a less complicated way and then decided that we could just enter on the Dutch side and go straight to the French side without further customs and immigration interaction – as I type we could be sitting targets for the Dutch authorities! The bridge on the Dutch side opens at 09.30hrs for inbound traffic so at 09.15hrs we were doing figure of eights outside the bridge along with the 20 or so other boats that wanted to go through. When the green light went on it was like the start of a race, all the boats jostling to get into position. We got through with no problem; the depth clearance on this side is a much healthier 17feet – no chance of us going aground and being embarrassed in the channel! Once inside the lagoon we oohed and aahed at the mega luxury yachts that were lined up by the dozen (we know they aren’t happy!) and wove our way through the fleet of various sizes, shape, colours and makes of boats that were already anchored there until we found a promising spot to drop our anchor on the French side. We dropped our anchor and once set we prepared the dinghy for a trip into town to try and organize a change of flight for Rose and Mark so that they could connect up with their already booked flight out of Puerto Rico. We found the travel agent and had an angel sitting on our shoulders; they managed to book out on a flight which connects with no problem. Once that was arranged it was time for a quick lunch, an even quicker browse around the shops and then return to our boat for an afternoon nap. On our trip back to the boat we passed Dale and Lorie who queried where we had anchored and if we had drifted – not a good moment! As we approached the spot where we had anchored we spotted out boat quite a distance away from where we had left it, it had definitely dragged anchor in our absence. We climbed aboard to find that some kind souls had jumped on our boat and thrown out the second anchor to secure us. After asking around we located the anchoring fairies and duly thanked them with bottles of rum. Luckily for us no damage was done to us or any other boat during the drifting, though we are amazed as to how we didn’t hit something – obviously our boat can steer its own course through a minefield of other boats! Then it was time for us to re anchor, Gerry hauled in the second anchor that the fairies had set and then tried to haul in our original anchor – it was unbelievably difficult and eventually it appeared at the water level. Gerry couldn’t haul it in any further as it had apparently got half the harbour attached to it. We had to reset the secondary anchor and then Gerry had to get in the dink and clean off the primary anchor before we could change them back over so that the primary anchor was holding us. During the process the guys who had set the secondary anchor to stop us drifting were pointing and taking photos, when Gerry went to clean the harbour off our anchor I took a couple of photos to show what was on the anchor – how we managed to drift with that attached to us we simply can’t fathom out but we did! Once we were re anchored it was time to distribute the rum to our anchor fairies, have a cold drink and then catch up with some much needed sleep before heading ashore for dinner.
We decided to take the dink into the Dutch side and see what the yacht club was like for dinner, on arriving there we took one look at the place and decided that it wasn’t what we were looking for and started to head out of the car park only to be called back by some old guy who said that we couldn’t leave our dinks tied to that particular dock unless we were gong to the yacht club. A quick decision had us fighting our way to the bar in the yacht club for a drink whilst this old guy handed us the menus, we perused the menu and each of us decided that we didn’t want anything that was on the menu – it was all snack stuff and we were looking for a proper meal. We drank our drinks and then we snuck out of the door when no one was paying us any attention, making a quick dash over the bridge towards the restaurant area. An Argentinean steak house took our fancy and we ordered some pretty good dishes between us. The food was bought to the table on small charcoal fired braziers from which we helped ourselves. We were all very happy with our choice – helped no doubt by the couple of pitchers of Margaritas (another first for Rose and Mark who are becoming international alcoholics like the rest of us!) Going back to our dinks was fun, we had to sneak into the yacht club dock and get away without being chastised by the man who thought we should eat there. With all the boats at anchor in the lagoon we were quite glad that we had thought to take our hand held GPS ashore with us, it made finding our boat in the dark so much easier, maybe we should do that all the time – if only we could remember it.



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