St. Martin/Sint Maarten is a relatively small island containing two countries. St. Martin is the French side and Sint Maarten is the Dutch side. We had exhaustively researched our options and decided to go through the Dutch bridge to get into the main lagoon where all the action is. Once there, we would anchor on the French side of the lagoon. The Dutch bridge is friendlier to boats of our girth (it's a lot wider and deeper) but we had heard that their fees are much higher. It was all very complicated, even before trying to time the infrequent bridge opening schedule.
Once we arrived, we talked to a kid boat we know that had arrived several days before. We did what they did and anchored outside the lagoon on the Dutch side. We didn't have to cross any bridges or pay the lagoon or bridge fees. A lot of cruising seems to involve elaborate preparations for things that never happen.
We spent a few days on the island getting some boat parts and stuffing our faces with chocolate croissants and French bread. We had a shim fabricated for the anchor roller so that the chain wouldn't keep getting stuck in the 1/2-inch space between the roller and the holder. Lately, I have been having to manhandle the chain out of the groove when it gets stuck. Who knew that I could be so happy about spending $30 to have a plastic disk made. It works like a charm.
There is a beach near the airport where you can experience the blow back from jets taking off. We have heard that if the jet is big enough, adults hanging on to the fence are blown vertically until they look like Superman flying. This smaller jet pictured below propelled Mark and Conrad backwards into the water (they never got airborne but they said it kind of hurt). They said it was fun and couldn't stop talking about it but also wanted to leave right afterwards. It's surprising that any sand is left on the beach at all because so much of it gets blown into the water.
Depending on the winds, we're headed to St. Barts or Antigua or St. Kitts. As Matt says, it's weird hoping for light winds on passage days.