02 February 2013 | Saint Martin
With my anchor sunk into the sea grass on the French side of Simpson Bay...and with the stern of Ooroo floating in the Dutch side, I'm being spooned by two lovers.
We checked out of the Dutch side with formalities consisting of showing receipts for the boat yard that Ooroo spent her last six months, to one customs official. It struck me as weird that she had a tip jar in front of what looked like bullet proof glass. The process however was easy and it cost $27 (no tip). We then went to the next window and had our passports stamped by another official who was so cheerful I would have paid a tip....but alas no jar.
We then fired up the motors on Ooroo and dropped anchor some 10 minutes latter...in France. A very small voyage indeed.
I might add that it was Jules and Sarah's first anchoring process and it was done with finesse...i.e. with hardly any cussing at all.
We then had to check into the French side. Via dingy we journeyed another 10 minutes to Le Marina in Margot...the capital of the Saint Martin. Here we used the DIY check in system. A computer is made available to sailors at the Capitainiere at the marinas entrance. We just put in our details (and when unsure of such details we just made it up) and paid $7.... And that is for as long as we wish to stay. No passport checks, boat paper checks....nothing. I'm happy to have my anchor were she is.
We are actually closer to the dingy docks, fuel docks and boats yards on the Dutch side than the French. However it's a one minute difference to coffee in one country or the other. We still have a car, that is costing $25 a day however will get rid of that when we have all provisions purchased and on board. It's just a big shopping cart as our exploration by road is done for now. It is easier to dingy from A to B than to brave the traffic....although you do end up with a wet arse.
But in saying that there is the issue of reliability. My dingy is new and the outboard is not. I spent a frustrating 3 hours stranded ashore while collecting fuel today. It turned out that the insulating foam inside my engine cover was deteriorating and being sucked into the air intake, resulting in the need for another service only days after its last.
I could go on with technical stuff....like fluff in air intakes etc but I can't for the life of me make sense of what I am talking about. Anyway....Tony Brewer the boat broker guy that I mention so often said "take my dingy its yours until you sort your fluff out"
We did climb to the canon ramparts of Fort Louis above Margot Bay, shopped in the local markets for $5 hats and $20 dresses that look like $100 dresses on Jules and Sarah. Sarah bought me the best baguette with ham and cheese I have had since I visited the European version of France.
I managed to purchase an almost identical fishing rod and reel to the one that cost me $85 at a US flea market. This one cost just $75 at the famous Shrimpies, near the French bridge. Now we will dine on twice the fish as before. Mike the owner of Shrimpies is an institution around here. He runs the VHF radio net each morning that consists of introducing services, advise buying and selling between businesses and yachties. I sold all my charts that got me this far and should be able to buy more to get me where I am going. You can also grab a $2 beer while your laundry is done.
So we hope that we can sort out a few niggling maintenance issues and cruise from between two countries into the clear waters of one.....the French Coast of Saint Martin and specifically Grand Case should be our home by Tuesday.