It was so rolly in the anchorage in Gustavia that the movement of the boat got too much for us so we just stayed 1 night! Holding on to cupboard doors to stop them slamming shut as the boat rolls and at the same time trying to load china mugs is not for us. It all gets too wearing and we upped anchor and headed for Ile Fourchue, just 4 miles north of St Barts.
This little island has a protected anchorage and a few moorings, laid to protect the marine park. They are well maintained, free and have a plastic eye at the end of the line, which is easy to pick up. There is nothing on the island at all but the setting sun makes the hills look very pretty in the golden glow. We knew another couple on a boat in there! We were also in touch with Jack who crewed with us for a month back in January 2012 from St Lucia to the BVIs, as he did the ARC again last year and is sailing ‘Rosa Fascia’ south and wanted to meet up.
In the morning we moved on to Simpson Bay on St Martin and sent Jack another text to say we had arrived as planned but our previous text had gone astray. He texted back to say they were approaching Ile Fourchue but diverted back to St Martin so we could spend the rest of the day catching up and eating out at the Pizza Gallery next to the Yacht Club in the evening. It was so lovely to see him again and meet his crew, Amanda.
Clearing in was very quick and as we are anchored just near the lifting bridge into the lagoon, it must be the nearest customs office we have dinghied to. They have a good, long dinghy dock and it cost 35 Euros for the week but they give change in US$. They take Guilders, Euros and Dollars here.
The anchorage is much more spacious than Gustavia’s and we have a couple of metres of clear water under us and are holding well in sand. It has been quite windy with some swell but the boats to the rear of the anchorage are rolling a lot more than we are. There is plenty to watch, being next to the fairway where boats wait for the bridge opening slots. West of the beach is the busy airport with Boeing 747’s landing, as well as numerous private jets. I wouldn’t say the island is as pretty as many other Caribbean islands we visit, with lots of concrete buildings and hotels, so it won’t go on our list of favourites but to be fair, we didn’t visit any other parts of St Martin. Apparently the capital, Phillipsburg, has old Swedish buildings and is more attractive but it is also full of duty free shops as the cruise ships dock in the port. There is a cruiser’s radio net at 0730 on VHF Ch 10, which mentioned that 2 dinghies and a generator were stolen on Tuesday. The dinghies minus outboards were located in another bay on the island by the coastguard who is often out in the bay patrolling in fast ribs.
We found reasonable Wi-Fi at the Yacht Club, just inside the bridge and had lunch there. Along the beach road is a well stocked scuba shop and they exchanged Rob’s broken weight pouch as the handle had snapped off and Aqualung have recalled them and beefed up the material. They could only replace the broken one and we need to wait for the other 3 to snap before getting those replaced.
Naturally with the whole island being duty free and having huge Island Water World and Budget Marine chandleries in the lagoon, we spent a while in both. The latest Doyle’s Guide was half the price I contemplated paying in Antigua, so prices are very good here. There is a huge marine industry and this is a great place to find expertise. We found the Grand Marche supermarket; about 15 minutes walk from the dinghy dock the other side of the lagoon. It was very well stocked with lots of frozen foods, a good deli and plenty of dairy and fresh produce. They had a big section with several different brands of chocolate, including Green & Black’s, Lindtt and Cadbury’s.
We cleared out on Monday morning and had to pay 4.20 GBP for the privilege. You then have 24 hours to leave, which makes life much easier.