St. Martin / Sint Maarten

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For those who do not know, Sint Maarten is the Dutch side and Saint Martin is the French side of one big island.  The distinction is an Immigration thing; once you have "Cleared in" - nobody cares.
This is a view coming up on the Dutch side at Simson Baii where many vessels stay at anchor.  Even out here, you have to pay weekly fees to stay in Dutch waters.  If the wind direction has a west component, you are in for a romping stomping rough time at anchor.
There is a huge lagoon protected on all sides by land; it too has a Dutch and French side.  The boat has to stay on the side that you chose to "Clear in."  You personally can go anywhere.
Here you can see the lagoon behind the airport.
We opted to come through the Simson Baii Bridge and stay inside the lagoon on the Dutch side. Once we discovered the outrageous Dutch fees, we crossed the lagoon to the French side.
This is the view starboard side while entering the lagoon.
The view of the eastern landscape.
The view west toward "Witch's Teat."
A view of the Dutch anchorage at the height of the Regatta.  A week after Regatta, it was virtually abandoned  in favor of the French and their enlightened harbor fees.
Here's a beautiful grand old lady.
The anchor is down and set, let's go over to the French side and spend money where our business is appreciated.
This is the main dock in Baie de Marigot and high up the hill are the ruins of the original fort.  If you walk up, take lots of water.
Out front of the town docks is the very modern Marina Fort St. Louis.
Behind the Marina Fort St. Louis is a building full of boutiques.  They are the most expensive shops that we have seen; moreover you get to pay in Euros and the exchange rate is brutal.  We had two coffees, two pastries and two éclairs for a total cost of about 40.00 U$D.
The back of the town of Marigot faces out on the lagoon.  This is cheaper fare and there are dozens of small bistros from which to sample food and booze. Many places offer  a 1 U$D = 1 EURO exchange rate.
We were startled to discover that the Boyz had purchased their own runabout.
Behind the docks are the ubiquitous t-shirt, dress, hat, trinkets and jewellery tents.
Everybody, and I mean everybody, drives in by car to find that perfect deal or to hawk their wares.
Some do it with a little more class!
The traffic jams are hysterical with all the usual shouting and one finger salutes.  This can put a strain on everyone's nerves and it occasionally shows. 
While we were in Virgin Gorda, our friends the Heggums put out a "Where are you email," saying they were on the cruise ship Seabourn Legend dropping anchor in Virgin Gorda.  What a surprise for everyone!  We were leaving for St. Martin that day and they said they would be there too in 1 week.  They moved heaven and earth, arranging it so that we could visit them onboard Seabourn Legend in Marigot.  WOW - what a treat!
The "Legend" is extraordinary and the crew was so hospitable that we felt like passengers. We were treated to an extensive tour, provided complimentary drinks and lunch.  Wally and Carol had to show us what kept them so relaxed.
It was impossible not to enjoy ourselves on Seabourn Legend.  The accoutrements, cabins and facilities are 1st class.  We can see why the Heggums have chosen this as their boating life style.  It's high on pleasure and very low on maintenance.  We wished them well and headed back to our little floating home.
As well as Marigot, we had to visit Philipsburg; as any power shopper knows - this is Mecca.  You can go by water and stay at any of the fine marinas, but bus transportation is good and inexpensive.  We like the buses because you meet and chat with the locals.
On the way into Philipsburg, we saw that where an airplane had crashed; someone had converted it into a bar and grill.
Here is something you do not often see - the main street without tourists.  It was a major holiday and here, everybody takes their holidays seriously.
This was an interesting house converted to a restaurant.  Cute - but the food was mediocre and prices too high.
Down on the boardwalk, we saw this little girl zooming around on this electric scooter.  Do you remember the scooter's name?
It's a Segway; like a lot of things here, they can be rented.  Check your medical coverage before putting one of these into motion.
We had guests coming to stay from Canada.
This is my very good friend Roy, who I have known for years through the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron.  He is a prince of a man who finally decided to take a vacation in the Caribbean.  He had met a new lady who would accompany him.
We were pleased to meet Kim who we found out was not only Roy's fiancé, but would soon be his wife.  Kim was very charming and she quickly adapted to getting around on the boat and living in close quarters.
Naturally when you have guests, you have to go ashore and party.  We went into Lady C's for the All-you-can-eat ribs and were joined by Bill and Benita of Alcheringa 2.  I vaguely remember falling into the dinghy and finding M/C in the dark - not a really bad hangover.
Roy and Kim decided to treat themselves to a couple of days in a ritzy Philipsburg Hotel.
They said they had a great time swimming and whooping it up.
We noticed that when Roy returned he had that glazed look.  We just thought it was because of Kim.  Alas, there had been an incident while Roy had been wading off the hotel beach. He had been viciously attacked by a denizen of the deep. (Play theme from jaws here!)
Apparently a small fish, no make that a big fish, what did you say Roy? Hum?? - a huge fish nearly ripped Roy's foot off.  Notice the gory medical photo provided as supporting evidence of the ferociousness of the attack.  The screams apparently cleared the swimming area.
The hotel was so concerned that they sent out a dive team to dispatch the aquatic menace.  Captured and near death, the beast makes a final lunge at the diver's ear.
We were given the beast as a trophy, so Judie decided that we should cook it up and let Roy bite it back.
We all had a great time and before we knew it.  Roy and Kim had to return to the working world.