Continuing on to Saint Martin was an easy decision. We had a laundry list of projects to accomplish and we’d heard from many cruisers that it’s excellent place to get boat work done. Being a duty free island packed with chandleries (boat supply stores) meant we’d have a huge selection of boat parts available to us in a snap. With it’s impressive landscape, beautiful water and mash of cultures, we knew St. Martin was going to be a fun place to stay for a while.
A familiar face
The very same day we entered Simpson Bay Lagoon, we noticed a familiar boat. It was our friend Jon on Hecla of Uist! We first met in the Bahamas and have stayed in touch since, but were very surprised to see him in St. Martin. Jon is from the UK and in the process of circumnavigating. Being the salty sailor that he is, we figured he may be farther south along the Caribbean chain. We were so delighted to have discovered him and we quickly arranged coffee in our cockpit that next morning.
Over the next few days, Jon took us around the island (both French and Dutch sides), showing us the lay of the land. We spent some time checking out the bakeries, restaurants, shops and most importantly, the chandleries. We spent our mornings catching up with coffee and biscuits and then would go our separate ways during the day to reconvene at Lagoonies, a cruiser friendly watering hole with a happy hour special of $1 beers. Cheap tastes good!
We also had a really great dinner at La Galion. At the end of our meal, they served us a complimentary bottle of banana rum liquor that we nearly finished! We were feeling pretty good by the end of the evening. Please excuse the blurry photos, but they just describe our night so well. 🙂
At the top of our list was installing a new windlass. We upgraded our anchor chain to a heavier grade when we were in San Juan and since then it’s been too heavy and dangerous for us to haul up by hand. Now we can raise and lower our anchor without the risk of losing a finger or two. It’s fabulous!
In addition to the windlass we also started making a sun shade for the foredeck and cockpit, continued working on the teak (yes there is still more, it never ends!), cleaned the engine compartment and water tanks, and replaced our raw water strainer and steaming light which burned out during our last passage. We also bought some more bottom paint because we’re due for a haul-out which includes rolling out a few coats of ‘anti-fouling paint’. Needless to say, we blew our budget, BIG TIME. Even though we knew we’d be spending a lot of money in St. Martin, it was still a little painful to look at our bank account after all of those purchases.
To be fair, sailboats really do need constant TLC. Alli Oop has taken us a long way and I’d says she’s been over due. Now that she’s back up to spec, we’ll continue farther along the Caribbean chain.
Living up to it’s name
St. Martin really is a cruiser’s paradise. We had a pretty great balance of work and play, which always makes for a good time. Between the Dutch and French sides, we had more available to us than we could ever want. Eating fresh croissants, cheese and pate everyday may have been my favorite part of our whole experience. I’m serious. I’ve never seen so many kinds of cheese in one place. I know Dave’s favorite part was the $2 6-pack I discovered at the local grocery store. We may have over indulged a little bit, but sometimes it’s good to let loose…right?