Monday, February 16, 2009

Dutch Sint Maarten

Kyle relaxes at a roadside Mexican in St Maarten

[Maryanne]We are hanging out in Dutch St. Maarten for the Month of February - it is an easy commute for Kyle, and we have great resources to get some final boat project completed for a potential Atlantic crossing over the summer.

However it is not such a great island to tour (remember the warnings we received when we first checked in). The local trails to the beautiful mountain tops are likely places for theft, and physical threat (Think group of guys with a machete) - so we shall not be doing our usual hiking (certainly not me alone). We do hope to visit the Capital (Philipsburg) and in particular the Guavaberry (local killer liqueur) HQ. So far we have stuck to the lagoon area, and streets around, and had absolutely NO issues or ever felt under any threat, so there doesn't seem any need to avoid the place, just be cautious.

The main good thing here though is it is such a great cruiser community. There is a cruiser net every morning (7:30, channel 14), where new visitors are welcomed, and all sorts of advice dished out (along with a buy/sell/swap opportunity).

I've also attended a boat Insurance seminar kindly hosted by a cruising broker for IMIS, and a presentation from a British couple just starting a seabird survey for the lesser Antilles - there always seems to be something going on.

It is easy to get between the Dutch and French side of the island (bike/bus/dinghy, or even water taxi don't require any customs, etc) - so we have plenty of places to shop for groceries and boat supplies.

We've moved our anchorage to be a little nearer to the boat stores, laundry and propane providers. But have been unable to find free internet from the boat, so we use the local "Cappuccino" bar (open 24/7) where we get free wifi and power while I sit drinking and soaking up the atmosphere (alternatives are McDonalds, or Ric's). There are various sign up options but way more expensive than we are used to - I signed up to SMART WIFI for a week, and after paying, never got a signal again... Doh!

All in all, Dutch St Maarten is fine to stop and provision and get any boat work done - It's also fine if you like the bar life, with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, enough to keep you busy for at least a month, but otherwise I wouldn't plan to hang out here. There are very few inexpensive places to eat out, but there are plenty of happy hours around to ensure drinking need not cost more than $1 a beer.

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