You have probably already guessed that the photo above was not taken in the Caribbean. Just as we were preparing to leave the BVIs for Anguilla, we received a Skype call from our daughter, Lindsay, and her boyfriend, Mike. It was to announce their ENGAGEMENT! Benny and I are beyond delighted and are so thrilled for the two of them. WAY TO GO!
After all the excitement, we collected ourselves and got underway at 5:30 p.m. for an overnight passage to Anguilla. Conditions were lumpy but not windy. We slowed things down a bit to improve the ride, and there is no point in arriving at a new port before dawn (i.e. in the dark).
After clearing in at Road Bay, we had a nap after the long night and then hired a taxi to give us a 2.5-hour guided tour of the island. It reminded us of part of the Bahamas - not flashy and touristy, just friendly and simple. BTW, Anguilla is pronounced "An-gwill-lah".
It’s only a 2-hour run from Road Bay on Anguilla to Marigot bay on St. Martin. The island is divided roughly in half. The northern portion is part of France and the southern side, called “Sint Maarten”, is part of the Netherlands. Food shopping, wine and restaurants are absolutely excellent on the French side – everything else is better on the Dutch side. The whole island is duty free, so most things are a real bargain. We absolutely loaded up on French wine, cheeses and pâté! We also needed a number of items for the boat which were easy to find at the well-stocked chandleries.
Our neighbours in Marigot Bay were Robert & Petra from Montreal aboard “New Vision”, a Bavaria Vision 42. They were with us during our 2-week lock-down in the DR. They were excited to get to St. Martin as they had been waiting for several months to purchase a new head (toilet) – we didn’t ask any questions. See the photo of them with their new prized possession. The 4 of us went to a street carnival one night in Grand Case and put French cuisine to the test – it was extraordinaire!
Sint Maarten is famous for its airport as planes fly very low over the beach at Simpson Bay.
All the shopping we did on St. Martin was not without a downside. At one of the stores we went to, a clerk must have accessed our card’s info while processing a transaction (there are apparently compact devices that do this). Unbeknownst to us, the thief went on a spending spree and racked-up quite a bill. Luckily, VISA reimbursed us for the fraudulent purchases and replaced the card. Still, the whole thing ended up being quite a hassle and a big waste of time.
Anguilla was first colonized by English settlers from Saint Kitts in 1650. In 1967, Britain combined Saint Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla together, against the wishes of many Anguillians. The Anguillans revolted and the rebels would open fire at all times of the day and night on the police stations, which were manned by Kittitian police. The police finally fled and the Anguillians, fearing an armed invasion from St. Kitts, mounted their own preemptive attack. The attack was a complete fiasco, but there were no casualties and the Kittitians were thankfully nervous to retaliate. British authority was fully restored in 1971 and in 1980 Anguilla was finally allowed to secede from Saint Kitts and Nevis and become a separate British Crown colony (now a British overseas territory).
Background St. Martin:
In 1648, France and the Dutch Republic agreed to divide the island between their two territories. A popular story among locals has it that the inhabitants were told to choose two walkers, one French and one Dutch. The two walkers were put back to back at one point on the island, and told to walk in opposite directions along the coast. The point where they eventually met was set as the other end of the line that was to become the frontier, dividing Saint-Martin from Sint Maarten. In the end, the Frenchman walked further than his Dutch counterpart and so the French side is 54 km² and Dutch 32 km². The legend goes on to say that the Frenchman drank wine prior to the race, while the Dutchman drank gin and that the stronger spirit impeded the latter’s progress.