Back in St Martin….

Sunday we went into Philipsburg as planned and had lunch, which was pretty disappointing. We then wandered the Boardwalk. There were very few places open so we stopped in at Dirty Sanchez again as the service was great and they have good wifi. I blogged while Richard chatted with Abi, who is a diamond salesman. He gave us some great insights into the business. We also chatted to some Americans who were in holiday mode – and one of the wives suddenly disappeared to the loo…. and came back to the bar very green and completely out of it. She was drinking cocktails – lethal out here as they are so strong….. one of the reasons why I largely stick to beer!!!   Oh dear…. Had a good fun afternoon and headed back to Morphie before dark as we had no lights with us. The minute we got back the heavens opened again….and we had torrential rain all night. Apparently we had six inches over the weekend alone!

Monday morning and the weather looked like it might be improving. The sea was still green but there was a hint of blue coming through.

Weather looks better

Sea starting to change backWe sailed the five miles to Simpson Bay and dropped anchor. Once we were set and happy we headed into the lagoon in dink to visit Budget Marine….. While we were there we bumped into Happy Hour and had a quick chat with them. And then the heavens opened again…. Oh dear, of course, we came out without jackets!   While we were waiting for a quick lull, Richard legged it and dropped off a gas bottle to be filled, and then we headed to the customs / immigration office. We checked out for the following morning – having paid our fees – and it was raining again. So we quickly buzzed over to the Simpson Bay Yacht Club and had some lunch and met up with Sonsy Lass again while everyone was sheltering and waiting for another lull in the weather. We took our chances in a quick break – dink had a lot of water in him by now – and as we arrived back at Morphie it poured down again. We got soaked just bringing dink up onto his davits…. Boy was he heavy with all that water before we could get his bung out! And that was it for the day… Rocking and rolling in the torrential rain…..again….. This is starting to get a bit tedious!

Simpson Bay

Tuesday morning we headed out of Simpson Bay for Marigot on the French side of the island. Moving out we spotted the yacht in front of us had just lost his dinghy off the back. We radioed them – couldn’t read their name – and they ignored us. We radioed again… They must have looked behind and realised it was them. They acknowledged the call, said thanks, and turned round to pick it up. That could have been an expensive mistake!!!!

Safely rescued

We were having a lovely sail – although the weather was closing in again – and we watched a plane going into Maho Bay. While we were sailing we were forced to change course by a tourist catamaran who clearly forgot the rule that the overtaking boat keeps clear!  Strangely the minute he got in front of us he changed course again and headed off to Anguilla. Really annoying… Oh well…. photo opportunity for his guests I reckon.

Small plane coming in

Stormy day at Maho Beach

Booze cruise

Getting close to Marigot we radioed Fort Louis marina – to no avail. After about six times we decide to anchor – enjoying the blue sea again – and then they picked up! Always the way…..

Hurrah - blue seas again

Anyway secured a slip and headed in – bit of a tight spot but Richard was brilliant and brought us alongside smoothly. Bit nerve racking as we were squeezed in between some very big, expensive, neighbours!   And, of course, as always happens, the minute we get settled in the one behind us which caused the manoeuvring challenge, left!

Fort Louis Marina

Morphie surrounded by her huge neighbours

Securely tied up, we headed into the marina office and cleared into customs. Was very pleased that the French side have finally installed “asdf” keyboards – so I was much quicker completing the on-line form than usual… Got some laundry tokens and we went back to Morphie – stripped beds, sorted it all out and headed back to the self-service machines. This is the main downside of rainy weather – no laundry gets done and clothes / towels remain damp…. We put our loads on and we settled down onto the bench and caught up with emails etc, although the marina wifi is very flaky and low speed.

A few hours later – job done – and we went back, cleaned ourselves up, put the laundry away, and headed into the Fort Louis Marina Club House where we admired the hand-painted Fuel Dock sign. They have an Italian chef here – so we decided to share a goat’s cheese, caramelised onion, baby tomato and rocket pizza with a nice bottle of wine. Fantastic! As we enjoyed the moody sunset they bought out these great sealed rubber / plastic rechargeable LED lamps…. Wanted to buy one for the cockpit but thought that €79 was a bit extravagant! Back on board for a quiet night….

Great artwork on the fuel dock Fatboy lamp - want one! Moody sky on the French side

Wednesday morning and it was raining again…. Was going to clean the boat today but decided we might as well get the hire car and go shopping instead. Got a decent sized car and headed out – via the patisserie of course for a French breakfast… yum!  Oh yes, of course the minute we had decided on this the skies cleared and the sun came out.   Typical!   On the way back to the car park, admiring the views of the boats in the anchorage,  I managed to visit the street market and we got a couple of new items of clothing.

The boats out in Marigot Bay Colourful street market in Marigot

We found the Ace Hardware store – picked up some more flexible builders’ buckets which fit into the bilges for storage – and headed off to Island Water World and Budget Marine. We have a long list of things we need again – some new spares and some other replacement items.. We are keen to take the opportunity of getting stuff here as it is duty free. We also picked up the now-filled gas tank…. Partial boat shopping list achieved – and then we went off to find the huge Grand Marche supermarket, on the Dutch side. Got everything we wanted – apart from some decent low-priced wine! Back on board we stowed everything away – which takes a while – and were relaxing in the cockpit after dinner, when we realised that the crew of Deep Blue – a huge superyacht – were now all in their uniforms. Then the captain and a couple of them head off towards the marina entrance…. Then the crew come back with a couple of trolleys full of designer luggage….. Then along comes a nanny with a baby in her arms and four young children come running down and climb on the boat…. Then the dads come – smoking the usual large cigar of course – and we were surprised that they were only in their early 30s…. And then the two WAGS with their designer shoes, clothes and huge handbags, teetered along…. followed respectively by the Captain bringing up the rear. All on board and the captain opens up the bridge and the boat heads off into the night….. Oh to be that rich eh??????

Thursday morning and the weather has calmed down so we get up bright and early and start working. Morphie is not too salty but the torrential rain has managed to stain the gel coat at the bow from our rusty anchor chain. We are planning to replace the chain in Curacao when we haul out at the end of the season – so will have to put up with this for a short while yet!  Morphie was quickly cleaned up so I settled down to stainless steel cleaning while Richard went below and cleaned up including polishing all the wood.  At about 3.30 pm – we were both feeling it – and decided to call it a day, even though we haven’t finished. We thought we deserved a beer and headed back in the car to the Simpson Bay Bridge to catch the opening…. We got there in time, enjoyed a cold one sitting on the rail, and watched the procession of tiny sail boats coming through followed by the spectacle of these huge yachts coming through a pretty small space. Apparently there are regular collisions…. and I think, secretly, that is what most people are hoping to see!!!! We then headed back to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Learning to sail Simpson Bay bridge

Bridge opening

In you come then

Friday morning and we re-think what we are going to do. As we have to hand the car back on Saturday morning we decide to enjoy the day exploring the island and, of course, trying to get the rest of the items on the shopping list. So we headed off to Island Water World (IWW) again – finally got everything we needed apart from one fuel filter. So we headed off to Philipsburg as the IWW store there had a few in stock. On the way we stopped off to admire the views across the lagoon. There is quite a stark difference between the Dutch and the French sides of this island – with the Dutch very built-up and touristy, a bit like a Caribbean Benidorm, and the French side is much more low key and quiet.

View of the lagoon

When we arrived in Philipsburg it was pretty quiet – no cruise ship in town – and we wandered the shops and I managed to get a great new pair of leather deck shoes for US $25. Bargain!

Philipsburg Old Street Fishing boats in Philipsburg Old car Fancy shops

Then we headed off down the other coast towards Grand Case…. stopping at a wine shop on the way…. Wine purchased we arrive in Grand Case and wander along enjoying the sights of this low-key French town, particularly the huge green iguana that was sunning itself outside the church. He legged it pretty quickly though – I reckon he knew that Richard was partial to eating them! LOL

Grand Case 1 Grand Case 2 Grand Case 3 Iguana in Grand Case

We planned to revisit our favourite restaurant in this part of town for a very late lunch – Ocean 82 – they had finished lunch service but would be starting their dinner service at 3.30 pm. That was only half an hour away so we settled in with a bottle of water, some French bread, and a glass of Chablis enjoying the views up and down the beach and out to the anchorage. Then suddenly we heard the noise of a plane coming in low – and it had to divert slightly to clear the masts – and then roared over our heads. When we were here last year there were huge yellow marker buoys marking the airport approach – don’t know what happened to them…..but I reckon the gendarmerie will be out later to move people on….

Beach front at Grand Case Beautiful restaurant setting Beach front at Grand Case 2 Bread while we wait Old Dutch boat in the anchorage Plane coming in over Grand Case anchorage

Coming in over the restaurant

Meal ordered….and we had the most fantastic fine dining experience. I won’t bore you with the details but check out these pictures! Yes totally indulgent… Quiet expensive….. But what a treat, even if we couldn’t move afterwards! Absolutely fantastic and the best meal we have had for a long long time….

Out for posh lunch 1

Cheese and beef starter Lobster bisque and sour cream starter

Lamb main Beef & veal cheek stew with mushroom risotto main

Lemon meringue desert Profiterole desert

Out for posh lunch 2

Back on board and we are full and tired….. so had an early night and no dinner!

Good night

This morning – Saturday – and we have been to the canvas shop to pick up our cockpit table cover. We’ve had it amended slightly to incorporate a pocket on the front to stash things when we are on passage like charts, pilot books, camera etc…. We have also returned the car and are now in the patisserie catching up on the internet. When we get back we are going to finish cleaning Morphie.

At the minute we have nothing much apart from maintenance and cleaning to do. We have, however, decided to head over to the British Virgin Islands earlier than we had originally planned. For this we’ll need a good weather window to make the 80 mile passage to Virgin Gorda – which can be notoriously rough. It’s currently looking good for a run with the wind on the starboard quarter on Tuesday night – fingers crossed – so we are probably going to stay in the marina until then. So the next time you hear from me we might be back in our old stomping grounds. We are really looking forward to catching up with people we haven’t seen for a couple of years prior to our lengthy 450 mile passage south to Bonaire.

Bye for now