In the afternoon we took a bus to visit the Golden Rock Plantation Estate, built in 1815 as a sugar
plantation. On Nevis, some of the old sugar plantation estates had been renovated and turned
into upscale inns. Golden Rock Plantation Inn was one of these. After enjoying a late elegant
lunch out on one of its terraces, we walked around the estate. Since it was late afternoon, we
occasionally spotted one of Nevis’ wild green backed monkeys as they often came out at this
time of day; they had been brought over to Nevis from Africa in the 1700’s. Upon returning to
our boat, the clouds that had obscured the top of Nevis’ central volcanic peak had departed,
providing us a splendid view of Nevis Peak at 3232 feet.
Tuesday morning, March 2, we sailed north to the French island of St. Barthelemy (St. Barts), a
distance of 50 nautical miles, enjoying a great sail with E winds 10 knots and seas 2-3 feet. Just
before nightfall we dropped our anchor in the anchorage just outside Gustavia’s main harbor.
During the night the anchorage became uncomfortable due to a wind shift, making for little sleep.
By morning the anchorage had become untenable, requiring us to move. Unable to find a more
protected spot due to the number of boats, we left St. Barts without ever visiting the island and
headed WNW to St. Maarten, 17 nautical miles away, sailing with S to SSE winds 15 knots and
seas SSE 5-10 feet. As we approached St. Maarten’s southern shore, 6 cruise ships were in port
at Philipsburg, the most we had ever seen at any one time in any port during all our travels.
Two different countries, the Netherlands and France, shared the island of St. Maarten/St.
Martin. The Dutch governed the southern half and the French, the northern. Each had its own
currency. Other than that, people moved freely between both sides. We spent 12 days in St.
Maarten catching up on boat chores and maintenance, doing a month’s worth of laundry, getting
haircuts, and stocking up on food and boat supplies. During our stay we anchored on the Dutch
side of Simpson Bay Lagoon. Totally protected, this huge landlocked lagoon was very popular
with cruisers. Bars, restaurants, and a variety of businesses, especially marine chandleries,
bordered the lagoon, making traveling almost anywhere within easy access by dinghy, much to
our delight. At times we felt like we were in our own little “water world.” While in St.
Maarten, there must have been around 800 boats in the lagoon.
We also counted around 35 mega yachts in the lagoon as St. Maarten had become the main
service center for mega yachts in the eastern Caribbean. Seeing so many mega yachts in one
place at one time was a first for us. Especially interesting was watching a mega yacht go out the
narrow channel from Simpson Bay Lagoon. With the bridge opening 56 feet wide, there was
little room to spare at times. As a precaution, all wide beamed vessels were required to have a
pilot when entering or departing the lagoon.
While we were on the island, the 30th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta took place March 4-7. It
was a fun time to be in St. Maarten with all the regatta excitement! Approximately 250 boats
competed in about 16 different classes. We especially had fun watching the boats come back into
the lagoon after each race as the St. Maarten Yacht Club, the host of the event, was situated just
inside the bridge entrance, not far from our boat. With crowds cheering, the different boats’ crew
members all looked so striking in their race uniforms as they entered the lagoon, and a few even
created their own “entrance” dance.
Sunday, March 7, we experienced our first frontal passage of the season. All winter we had
been hearing from friends about the terrible weather up north in the states. Now that we were
in St. Maarten, we were just far enough north that the northern cold fronts had finally become
an issue. With the cool wind, we actually had to put on more clothing.
St. Maarten/St. Martin was regarded as one of the hottest tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
Duty free shopping was definitely a big attraction, especially on the Dutch side. Thursday
Mary took the bus to Philipsburg, the capital of Dutch St. Maarten. Duty free shops abounded
everywhere, full of the hustle always connected with cruise ship ports, but lacking in
personality. Saturday we took our dinghy over to Marigot, the capital of French St. Martin.
What a refreshing change Marigot was with its delightful French ambiance. After the fast pace
of the Dutch side, we enjoyed an intimate luncheon along Marigot’s picturesque inner lagoon.
Monday, March 15, we departed St. Maarten, leaving Simpson Bay Lagoon at the 11 am bridge
opening, bound for Anguilla, 17 nautical miles away. As the “wind gods” had decided to go on
vacation, we motored the entire distance.
We spent just 27 hours in Anguilla, getting a quick taste of this small island before sailing
overnight to the British Virgin Islands. Anguilla was the most northern of the Leeward Islands
and best known for its long powdery white beaches and crystal clear water. We anchored in
Road Bay, the main anchorage. After our stay in Simpson Bay Lagoon, it was great to be
anchored again in clear water where we could once more jump over the side of the boat for a
quick refreshing swim. The small village, Sandy Ground, that fronted Road Bay was quite
low-key, and we enjoyed a few of its bars and a lunch at one of its restaurants before departing.
Tuesday evening at 6 pm, we departed Anguilla for the British Virgin Islands, 89 nautical miles
away. Our track took us west for the first time this season. As the “wind gods” weren’t
planning to return until Wednesday mid-morning, we motored most of the way. During the night
we were treated to an amazing phosphorescence light show with help from our boat’s wake and
the glassy Caribbean Sea. It was absolutely beautiful! Around 10 pm, though, we had quite a
scare when our prop got caught in a loose crab pot line, making it inoperable. Normally our
prop’s line cutter could cut the line, but this time Phil had to jump over and manually remove the
entangled line, almost a 10 minute ordeal. With all the barnacles on the line, Phil came back
onboard with lots of cuts. Thank goodness for calm seas; it would have been much more
difficult in rough seas.
Around noon Wednesday, March 17, we arrived in Road Town on Tortola in the British Virgin
Islands. In the afternoon we checked into the country, and as we were quite exhausted from our
long overnight passage we headed to bed early. The next day we moved over to Trellis bay on
Beef Island, looking forward to the arrival of our son Scott and his college buddy Chris on