St. Marten/Sint Maarten
11 January 2010 | Grand Case
It's Monday already, I listened to Chris Parker's SSB weather this morning and really was amazed at all the severe and very cold weather lingering around the south eastern US and Bahamas. Snow flurries in Naples, 15 degrees in south Florida and gale force winds, wow!!
Right now I'm sitting in Calmos Cafe no more than one hundred feet from the beach. Very soothing music is playing in the background, people are ordering lunches as they enjoy the light breeze, cloudless sky, coctails, swimming, and life. Ahhh!
We left Virgin Gorda, BVI around 16:30 Thursday, passed through the Necker Island Passage and set the autopilot for 123 degress, St. Marten, 75 miles to go.
The wind was 10 knots, the moon was full, the sky cloudless, waves less than four feet and we were trucking along at 6.5 knots. I had guessed at a 15 hour passage it was looking more like 12 to 13, oops, another night-time arrival at an unfamiliar harbor. We planned to clear French customs in Marigot, a huge,easily accessible harbor. As we approached, approximately 12 miles from the island, Alice was below, Lucky Bird was sailing herself and I was just along for the ride. We were contantly watch for traffic and had scene 5 cruise ships and a half dozen pleasure boats, then without and notice or warning, I saw a dark shape move quickly away from our port bow. I thought, holy-s..t, I almost hit whatever that was, no lights, just a dark object, and THEN.........., a blast of light from this object blinding me and getting my mind running wild. The light went out and I could see the object circling behind us, I though I could see it was a very large inflatable, then the light again and lots of fast talking French of which I could only understand we are going to board you. They were the French Coast Guard, 5 big guys out in the ocean at 03:00 searching for bad guys. They had guns, they didn't fool around, they came right aboard and demanded our papers and passports. Alice speaks some french so the atmospher relaxed, they got what they wanted and were gone as quickly as they entered our world. A first such experience. We talked about it for hours and then with other cruisers. On one hand it's assuring to know there is a Guard, a little more attention to identification would have reduced the anxiety level a lot. Lots more to say about St Matren, French side, but the laptop is starting to groan, By for know.