St. Martin was a short downwind leaping sail from St. Barts. En route we passed a curious island, which was mentioned in the guidebook. The island was once lush with green vegetation coating it from coast to coast. Unfortunately the goat population got out of hand and the goats ate the island barren. When it appeared the goats were beginning to starve, the humans intervened and began transporting them off the island. Now, the island is supposed to show signs of green…. But Mike and I could barely see these ‘signs of green’. We suspect there are some sneaky goats still eating their fill.
Our first landing was on the NW side in Grand Case, which drew us in for the renowned cuisine and carnival Tuesdays. It was a wide but deep harbor and we were both impressed with how flat the anchorage was. From the moment the anchor tugged snugly on the sandy bottom below, I felt at home. Yup, this will do for a week worth of boat work chores. We grabbed ribs and a beer at the closest bar to the dinghy dock (bbq so good it’ll make you cry) and numbered our projects and relaxed, making ourselves at home. We eventually slapped 2 coats of varnish, painted the v-drive, realigned the v-drive, fixed the mizzen boom (again), and genoa sheet block. Carnivale Tuesday finally came our way and the quaint town mainstreet opened up to hundreds of boutiques and food vendors. Music roared from the drum band and whistles while beautiful women wearing elaborate carnival costumes lead the stream of madness. The Heineken Regatta was to take place that week and 20 or so drunken racers made their jovial presence known…. To EVERYONE. We danced to a steeldrum band and drank the local rum punch meeting fellow cruisers left and right. With our fill of Grand Case fun it was time to meet with friends Acedia, Alpha Crucis, & Aggressive in Marigot Bay just 3 miles South.
Once we put in our hours/days of work and enjoyed our weight of chocolate almond croissants, we decided it was high time go and see St. Martin! There’s a famous lagoon in St. Martin, one side is French the other Dutch. The Dutch side is far more developed (green & red channel markers!!! what? haven’t seen those since Bermuda) and cater to the yachts (both mega and minor). The French side is shallow and spacious – plenty of room to anchor. On the NW side of the French lagoon resides a bit of a wayward mess; i.e. there’s a plethora of fixer-upers biding there time or on the slow march to becoming a reef down below. We really enjoyed happy hour at Lagoonies, a bar on the Dutch side. In our meanderings we “won” a discounted vacation to a timeshare resort. We just had to listen to a pitch and received a free lunch and drinks and $50 to shop with. I got my St. Martin t-shirt and Mike bought his fill in hot sauce. Everyone was happy except for the sales rep.
St. Martin is shared by the Dutch and French, the Dutch side being significantly smaller in land mass. There’s a cute (yet clearly very accurate) story of how the French and Dutch divided the land amicably. One Frenchman and one Dutchman met and both decided to pick a drink of choice and march at opposite sides of the island walking inward. Wherever the two men met would be the border between the two nations. Two men agreed. The Frenchman obviously picked wine and the Dutch took whiskey. Whiskey, being the more potent of the two drinks caused the Dutchman to stagger and take a longer time to progress to the center of the island.