Saint Martin, Saint Martin
Woke up feeling excited about our day ahead in St Maarten. The ship came in at about 8am and we berthed on the long cruise pier, with Celebrity Summit directly opposite us. The island was one of the “green” ones with noticeable bays and green peaks. Much more visually interesting than Aruba. We could also see St. Barths just away offshore.
Bob and I got off at about 9 and got the water taxi from the pier into town. It was blinding hot already and very humid too. Phillipsburg (the largest town on the island and capital of the Dutch side) is a lovely mix of old Dutch Caribbean from the 1700s and modern build done in the same style. The streets are cobbled and there are lots of small shops, coffee bars and restaurants. Lots of jewellery shops. St Maarten/St Martin is not a large island – 6 miles by 6 miles – and is split between a Dutch side and a French side. Apparently, the story goes that it was settled originally by both nations and they decided to establish a border by two men walking from each side of the island towards each other and where they met would be the border. The Frenchman walked further so they have more of the island, but the Dutchman (who’d stopped for a few gins) managed to get the lucrative salt pans in the south.
We stopped in an old square for some iced coffees and to use the wifi, then back to the dock for 1115 for our sailing trip. We had booked to go out on one of the ex Americas Cup racing yachts based there for a race. They have 3. Two Canadian ones and the United States yacht Stars and Stripes which Dennis Connors skippered to win the 1987 cup. They are all very sleek and low to the water, multi million pound racing yachts. We were lucky enough to be allocated to Stars and Stripes which was extra good. Everyone had a working job. I’d got a cut on my hand so I didn’t want to winch but I got the role of mainsail trimmer which frankly was the hardest job on the boat and involved constant ropework!!!! The captain was constantly telling me to trim this or that, let it in, let it out…. Bob was on one of the rear winches. We had five races around the track and we were flying along even though the winds were light. The boat was heeled right over – it was thrilling. A great experience and well worth doing.
Afterwards we had a short free sail and Bob took the wheel for a while which he enjoyed and then there was time for swimming. Finally we went back to the yacht club where we were treated to free rum punches. BLIMEY! They were incrediby strong. It was a surprise. I expected them to be the usual watered down sickly variety but no….. Bob had had 2 beers on the yacht so with two punches as well, he was trashed. We tottered off to find food and found The Lazy Lizard on the beachfront. Had a delicious lunch and a nice long facetime calls with both girls. Bob went for a burger which he said was great and I had jerk chicken and salad which was stupendous. Plus mine came with a JohnnyCake. Oh, yum yum, that was good. I gave Bob half. It’s a sort of a savoury doughnut or puff bread. Really delicious.
Feeling slightly better we walked down to the waters edge and collapsed on a couple of well padded loungers kindly provide by one of the small hotels. The water was incredibly blue and clear and just delightful to swim in. Had a bit of a nap too.
About 530 we headed back to the ship, stopping off to buy some duty free for the rest of the voyage. Managed to get a 3L winebox for about £12, a litre of Fundador Spanish brandy for about the same. And 1.75L of Appleton’s spiced rum for £12 too. Only the wine is for the voyage LOL!
We were going to go back ashore again but there was a bbq up on deck and it was such a lovely hot night that we decided to partake of that instead. Robin Cousins, the ice skater, came on board today as uest speaker for a few days. Shall look forward to hearing him tomorrow. Tonight went to the late night movie which was The Revenant.
We now sail north east across the Atlantic. 5 days at sea and then our final stop at Ponta Delgada in the Azores on May 1st. Hoping the good weather holds out till then. My tan is a thing of beauty, my dear readers. I shall be in shorts back in the UK whatever May delivers!
Really liked St Maarten.