25 February, 2013

Simpson Bay St Maartin

Malua is at 18:02.00N 63:05.91W in Simpson Bay in St Martin on 18/02/2012
I left English Harbour and sailed up the west coast to Deep Bay. Here I walked to St John - the main town to get some fresh vegetables and to spend the last of my EC money. The walk is quite a long way so I took a bus out of town then was given a lift. 
I had planned to sail to Nevis the next island in the chain and continue to St Christopher and St Eustatius but the weather window was only open for two days before a strong wind front set in for four or more days so I cooked three meals of mince meat from the freezer, set it in the fridge and set the alarm for 1:00 am. 
There was little wind when I got up and set off out of the bay making sure I past by the sunken wreck. I hit the open sea and still only 15 knots and right behind Malua. It was a great sail down wind. I adopted my usual night watch position and watched the night sky pass over head. Dawn came and the sea was still flat and I was making such good progress that I would have arrived at St Barthelemy - St Barts just after 14:00. I looked at the chart and found St Martin was only 14 nm further north and I would reach that before 16:00. The wind was consistent and from astern so lets make progress and move further north while the going is good. This Caribbean is getting boring. 
On entering the southern waters of the island I saw some water rise from about 400 m ahead. Just a glimpse out the corner of my eye. When I looked again a whale was just off Malua's port quarter, just slowly moving southwards. I did not expect to see whales in these water. A great thrill. 
St Martin is divided Dutch side and a French side however the Dutch have a very large lake connected to the sea by a channel but a lifting bridge restricts the entrance. The bridge would open in two hour time for inbound traffic, so I just hung about waiting in line with about ten other vessels waiting to enter the lagoon of Simpson Bay. 
Passing down the channel and under the lifting bridge reminded me of the locks of France however this time I had the mast up. 
Just as I turned to port to select a spot to drop the anchor Pedro and Carol from Jack Tar came along side to invite me to share a beer at a waterside bar. What a great welcome after a 16 hour sail. 
A magical moment on Malua.

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