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Crossing the Anegoda Passage, the moon was little more than half full but bright enough to illuminate the water's surface.  Sailing under moonlight feels safer because you can see fairly well but it's a trade-off.  When there's no moon, the blackness of the sky has incredible depth and millions of stars and galaxies are visible with a much better chance of seeing a meteor streak across the sky. 

When I returned to the States the last time, I bought several books on tape and we have thoroughly enjoyed listening to them on watch.  Focusing on the books helps you stay awake and watch for ships passing in the night.

We approached
St. Martin as the sun was rising and were anchored by 7:00 a.m.  The island is half French and half  Dutch, the French side called Saint Martin  and the Dutch side Sint Maarten.  The French and Dutch were too civilized to go to war over the island, so legend has it that the Frenchman got a bottle of wine and the Dutchman a bottle of gin and each started walking from his respective coast toward the center of the island.  Where they met was established as the boundary.  Since the wine was less potent than the gin, the Frenchman walked a little further so the French side is a bit larger. 

Even though the island is two countries, there are no border patrols and you can pass freely from one side to the other.  If you move your boat from one side to the other, you're supposed to clear out of customs and clear into the other country.  We decided to anchor on the Dutch side since there had been recent reports of theft on the French side.  The island is a duty free port and holiday destination for many nationalities.  May is their least busy month so we had great service wherever we went. 

St. Martin was hit by two hurricanes in 1999 and the devastation was incredible.  Masts of sunken boats stuck out of the water .  A handrail poked out of the water, still attached to the concrete block broken away from a dockside restaurant and washed into the lagoon.

Evidence of hurricane damage, sunken boats with masts sticking out of the water, demolished buildings on the beachfront, and a freighter washed up on the otherwise scenic beach

The lagoon, a twelve square mile bay, may be entered through a lifting bridge, one on the French side and another on the Dutch side.   The bridges only lift on schedule, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.

Prices were generally more expensive on the French side but the French bread was better than the Dutch and the French grocery store had wonderful cheeses, fresh herbs, cornichons, mustards, and so much more.  Bob found a decent red table wine for ten francs a bottle, about $1.39.  What a deal!  He bought four cases!

Dutch lifting bridge at Simpson Bay

Marigot is the most populated area of the French side.  A little corner of France in the Caribbean, it had marinas, dockside boutiques, cafes, and an open air market with handmade jewelry, brightly colored clothing, wooden bowls, hand painted watercolors, baskets, etc.  Fort Louis, French flag extended in the wind, kept vigil high atop the hill overlooking the bay where many boats were anchored.

Fort Louis overlooks the French bay

Fresh produce and deli counter at the French market

Open air market with jewelry, clothes and souvenirs


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View from the bus at the lagoon and Simpson Bay