[Kyle]From Road Bay, we cleared out of Anguilla and sailed in nice tailwinds along the coast. Swells from a storm further north crashed into the cliffs sending spray flying. We came around Anguillita and headed hard on the wind toward Saint Martin. The chop wasn’t too bad and after a couple of tacks, we entered the Radisson Marina on the French side of the Island.
Earlier that morning, we had a minor crisis when we realized that French customs was closed from Saturday noon until Monday morning, which would have meant that we couldn’t legally go ashore for two days, thus defeating the whole point. Eventually, I noticed a note on noonsite.com about the Radisson being a port of entry. Our coast pilot did not list it as such. Eventually, I called them on the Iridium phone and in broken French and English was able to determine that they were authorized to act as an after-hours agent for customs – for a fee. “Oh, great! That’s how they get you!” I thought, but it turned out the fee was only five Euros so I shut up and we headed over.
We paid our fee and topped up our water tanks for 10 cents per gallon, which were getting critically low. We had intended to anchor in the harbor outside the marina for the night but once we got there, we found that there was nowhere that wasn’t either too close to the rocks or being hit with the really bad North swell, so we continued around the corner to the anchorage at Grand Case.
It was late and we were really too tired to get the dinghy out and venture ashore, so we just stayed aboard for the night. From the anchorage, Grand Case reminds me very much of Deshaies, Guadeloupe. There are open air restaurants all along the white beach, each with balconies overlooking the surf. Music and people's conversations drifted over with the trade winds. Occasionally, we’d get a whiff of smoke from a barbecue. It had a very lively French feel.
We enjoyed the sounds and sat in the cockpit looking up at the stars and talking about our good fortune. It so did not seem like February.
[Maryanne]Our first impression of French St Martin is that it clearly has a different flavor from the Dutch side. It is much less developed (no casinos, nor high-rise hotels). And of course they embrace their modern European ways (while retaining that Caribbean touch): there is recycling everywhere for a start! In that same eco-friendly vane we spotted these two cute small vehicles.
Small is beautiful, and Environmentally friendly