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French or Dutch? Brithday and Super-yachts

“You don’t want to go into Simpson bay”, - “a catamaran hit a sunken wreck only last week!” ( Advice from a yachtie in the customs queue in Nevis). “Go to Simpson Bay Dutch side, they are ok now”, “Stay on the Dutch side”, “No just go to Marigot Bay on the French side – its sheltered” The views and advice were very varied and after five days touring the island we can see why.

We decided to see for ourselves, taking a cautious approach by checking into the French side and anchoring in the large sheltered Marigot Bay.

Our first mission was to purchase “FRANK” – a new outboard engine. The distances covered in our dinghy were getting larger and larger and we decided it was about time we replaced our not so reliable 3.3 mercury outboard. Taking advantage of Saint Martins duty free status we went into action and were powering around in our new 9.8HP Totatshu on day one, why had we waited so long to upgrade?

To test drive FRANK we spent a few hours running it around Simpson bay – wow – there was devastation everywhere, half sunken boats, boats de-masted and buildings in various states of abandonment.

Astonishingly berthed within 100 meters of sunken and demasted boats were superyachts of all shapes and sizes – including Steve Jobs' Venus, a very 'apple' looking vessel that sadly he never got to see. The one below had a yacht as big as ours on it, and goodness knows what the very 'Stark Enterprise' vessel was about.

The highlight for me of Saint Martin was celebrating Emma's Birthday. We rocked up in Grande Case, also wrecked by the hurricane, but Brent had read about a fabulous restaurant which was rated number one place to eat on the whole island. We were very lucky and got a table – it certainly lived up to its reputation.

After “checking out“ of the French side we “checked in” to the Dutch side – and spent several rolly nights outside Simpson Bay. The bonus was the local yacht club, which was vibrant and in a great place to watch super yachts come and go. We also hired a car and managed to stock up on Nepresso capsules – yeehh!!.

The final night we spent anchored off the capital Phillipsburg – an enjoyable stroll along a vibrant sea front town.

We departed for the 690 nm sail to the British Virgin Islands at 3am, (having previously gotten everyone up for a 'practice run' at 2300 - not seeing the 2 on my watch!) Fortunately Emma and Brent could see the funny side to my error. We were ready to leave and can understand why views are so mixed. It was an experience visiting the island, glad we went and will look forward to calling in again in a few years time.

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