Two countries in one

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Monday, May 1, 2006

St. Kitts to St. Barts (or St. Barthelemy, or St. Barths) was another uneventful sail with an interesting change. When we landed at St. Barts, a French country, it was as if we left the Caribbean behind and were indeed in France. Fortunately, the islands here all seem to be bilingual and our cruising guide says that St. Barts is favored by rich Americans (surely not us) and European jet set. We only stayed here for a few days, but were overwhelmed with the crystal clear water. We anchored in 30 feet and could clearly view our anchor and sea life on the bottom.

One morning Chris decided that he would scrape the hull and rudders since they've become quite filled with growth from the warm water. Quest hasn't been out of the water since Turkey, and we have a really great bottom paint on her, but there is only so much that can be stopped. Armed with a paint scraper and snorkel gear, Chris got in and worked his way up one side of the hull, cleaning major goop and growth as he went. I enjoyed a swim in the current along side the boat. It was as if I was in an exercise pool. I swam, but made no distance. When Chris was done and standing on the swim step at the back of the boat, he noticed loads (millions, zillions, OK maybe just lots) of teeny, tiny shrimp clinging to his body. We tried rinsing them off quickly, but they were tenacious little fellows. He jumped back in the water and stripped off his bathing suit and scrubbed at his body. I held a towel as a curtain while he climbed back aboard and we searched for the remaining critters.

The next day we motored further along the island and anchored in a well-protected cove with more great water. As we motored in, I watched the bottom and saw several large sea turtles and a sandy floor as covered with starfish as if it was a night sky with stars. Chris decided to get the second side of the boat cleaned and I had my rinse water waiting for shrimp detail, when after a few minutes he came quickly back to the ladder. It seems a barracuda was interested in his work and wouldn't leave. So much for the hull.

We left St. Barts and attempted to sail to the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. Really - it's not as if we didn't know where we were going, but the island has two countries. This island, with a total of 37 square miles is split between France and the Netherlands, making it the smallest area in the world divided into two countries.

Given our experience with commercial tourism in Juneau, as we approached the harbor nearing evening we were disheartened with the sight of three very large cruise ships. We didn't even want to go ashore.

The next day we motored a bit more up the coast and entered another harbor outside Simpson Bay Lagoon. The lagoon is only accessible when a bridge (one on the Dutch side and one on the French side) is raised three times a day.

Since the openings to the lagoon are small, the water flow is very limited and the water in there is VERY mucky. No swimming, no cleaning the boat, we don't even like the water to splash on us when motoring in the dinghy. But the water is so calm and protected there it is as if we were "on the hard" instead of anchored. There are several marine shops lining the lagoon, as well as restaurants that allow tying up your dinghy while shopping or eating.

We were browsing in one of the chandleries when a friend caught our attention. Actually, she walked past us and pinched us on our butts to get our attention... It was Laura from S/Y Gilana - the folks we met in Spain and then "found" again in the Canaries and crossed the ocean with. We had lost contact with them after landing in Antigua - they landed here in St Martin (the French side) and have been here ever since. They intended to leave within the week. It was wonderful catching up with them. Their daughter, Liz, who turned 17 on the Atlantic crossing, has jumped ship - she was hired on a 150 foot motor boat that has already crossed back to the Canaries in Spain on its way to a summer cruise in the Med.

We were getting ready on another day to go to shore, when another dinghy came buzzing over to us. It was another of the boats that crossed with us. We lost track of them in mid-ocean because they left several days before we did and the radio just couldn't carry that far. I recognized another gentleman who was on the dock across from us in Las Palmas (in the Canaries) as we were visiting the Yamaha dealer (still no luck with our funky throttle). We caught up with his travels before we headed back home.
Another day we had someone hail us from their dinghy. They wanted to know if Quest was for sale and if not, did we do charters. No to both. We ARE still open to any of you who want to visit for a bit...
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