St. Martin wasn’t quite what I expected. You wouldn’t know it according to this picture but they did have the most amazing cheese, bread and wine selections. We did finally get to clear into customs/immigration on the French side at Fort Louis Marina. No trouble there! We spent the majority of our time tromping around Marigot Bay, other than the day we bussed over to Philipsburg on the Dutch side.
Phillipsburg was a complete tourist trap. They had the cruise ships and all. So what it was duty free shopping; the prices were so high on everything that it didn’t matter. Trent knew it would be a zoo and I was up for anything so Lindsay, Dan and I made plans with Aqua Vida. Dan immediately found what he was shopping for but we had the rest of the afternoon to kill. Food sounded good but we knew we couldn’t afford what they had to offer near the cruise ship dock. About 5 blocks off the beach we followed our noses down an alley, next to a whore house (seriously!), and had the best fresh affordable lunch imaginable, plus we were thoroughly entertained by its patrons. I won’t go into details though!
Yes sir, we loaded up on cheese, wine and bread on our side of the island. We also had our fill of chocolate croissants. Delish! The French had great grocery stores and we found almost everything we were looking between Super U and Prime Cash and Carry, which was a wholesaler. I found it a little difficult to figure out what I needed once the shopping began because everything was written in French and then you pay with Euros. I have to say, the food was about the best thing about Saint Martin.
I could kick myself for not finding a beach but there weren’t any close by. Snorkeling off the boat certainly cooled us down in the afternoons. I scraped barnacles off the keel again. Those buggers grow fast! There weren’t any reefs but the dozens of giant starfish were nice to look at. We had a pet barracuda too. The hike up to Fort St. Louis wasn’t too interesting either. It seemed as though vagrants lived up there and it was pretty trashed, much like the rest of the town. There were a couple of nice restaurants, none of which we patronized, but the town itself seemed pretty run down. It felt fairly safe but we never went out at night either. I think I’m just more of an “off the beaten path” type of girl. I prefer the more secluded anchorages and private beaches. Trent’s the same, thank goodness. It was nice to pick up a few things and sail Pepper away to St. Eustatius (Statia).
Bingo, Pepper was one of only 3 sailboats anchored at Statia. Did I mention that we sailed all the way here? Finally we’re going south, not East, what a treat! Vagabond went to St. Barts for a day because they needed water but it seemed like eternity since we saw them the next day in Statia. Customs/immigration was painless and they didn’t even charge us. We only have to pay $10 a night for anchoring in their National Park. This is the first time we utilized our stern anchor because a bad combination of ocean swells and position of the wind made being on Pepper unbearable. Trent nailed it, of course, and we had a comfortable night compared to our poor neighbors who were rockin’ and rollin’.
Early the next morning I packed up some water and snacks and we took off for Mount Quill. The volcano erupted 1,600 years ago and that’s when two islands became one, St. Eustatius. It was an incredibly steep hike that was super rewarding once we sat atop the peak. To give you an example of how steep our climb was, when the soldier crabs (hermit crabs) hear us coming they quickly tuck inside their shell, so as not to be noticed, but then they roll straight down the hill, poor things. There were dozens of crabs and you could hear them tumbling all around us. Anyways, we finally rested on a rock that overlooked into the lusciously green crater of the volcano. The birds were singing their songs. What incredible views!
Nothing cools you off after a sweaty long hike like a dip in the ocean. The sea turtles were out to play this week. Perhaps because they’re so elusive, I find them to be so fascinating and could watch them for hours but it’s been hard to do with so many other people fighting to see them too. In the Virgin Islands people would literally scream for their friends to come quick when one made an appearance and nothing sends them darting off into the depths of the ocean faster than a crazed tourist. Now that the number of tourists have dropped off it’s like they’re a whole new creature. They’re curious and unafraid. One swam right into my camera. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself here. You’ll see what I mean once you watch this video. Next stop, St. Kitts!