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The SSS-islands


Leaving Antigua three cruiseships arrived, but in Sint Maarten (the Dutch part) we found seven plus three in St.Martin (the French part). We also met a phenomenon called “the Rhino’s”: canary yellow carrying tourists speeding through the bay in a long line after their leader. Yeah you've got to make fun when you are a passenger on a cruiseship...

The French part has a scent of the Rivièra but is beaten by the Dutch part. This is where the super rich fly in their private jets to their mega yacht, to measure up to their super rich colleagues and bore themselves buying trendy watches, fashion and art. We are always joking that you can measure their wealth by the number of spreaders (with five sets on the mainmast you really are somebody) and most and fore all: the number of mushrooms. Regrettably non-eatable, as we mean those spherical white antennas, of which you should have at least three. The black ones are rare so we call those: truffles.

We also met up with many acquaintances, as St.Maarten is the centre of Caribbean yacht life. Many yachts in large bays means huge distances, especially when you move between the Dutch and the French side because there is also a big area of no man's land, where no yachts are found and the border is only roughly defined by a boundary marker and flags. The majority of the yachties choose the French side, where clearance is much cheaper, no harbour fees are due and furthermore they have a yachties flea market, and they all have super dinghies with powerful outboards. We don't own these things but fortunately our friend Richard lent us a hand (his dinghy) when we had to pick up Winnie at the airport.

Winnie is JW’s niece and with her we explored the off-lying islands. But first by bus to unexpectedly pleasant Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch part where you can stroll on the boulevard and see the cruiseship passenger spend their money: Bulgari, Gucci, Prada, Rolex, sunglasses, camera’s… Hilarious to watch and also hilarious that these people do exactly what is expected from them, as they are all dressed up in new bought clothes and shoes..
Among the many souvenir shops we found the local museum where St.Maarten's history is displayed, starting with the indigenous: the Arawak and Carib. We were startled to see that one of the showpieces was a picture of a Carib whom we actually met… village chief Euwka dressed up in feathers similar to when he welcomed us a couple of years ago to his village… in Sipaliwini… in the deep south of Suriname!!!

Winnie's initiation at sea took place between Sint Maarten and Sint Eustatius. She was lucky because it was a calm sea and the sailing was comfortable. But she was glad when we arrived… not on Sint Eustatius, as very suspicious there was not one yacht at anchor. The reason was a mean southeasterly swell, and spending a night would mean that Winnie's sailing career would have been over instantly. So we carried on to St.Kitts, where we arrived in last daylight and anchored in a reasonably calm bay.

St.Kitts is quite dry, and so was the clearing procedure, which took a long time with many tedious questions from the customs officer. The capital Basseterre was very busy because as usual a cruiseship had docked, so in the afternoon we unfurled the genoa and moved four miles to a paradise bay. By which for Winnie her Caribbean holiday  really started. Her Caribbean dream was complete when we arrived two days later on the nice neighbouring island Nevis, where celebreties (Britney Spears, Mel Gibson, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé) mingle with the rasta’s; at least they appeared to be visitors to the rasta-beachbar where we were anchored. The“capital” Charlestown is characterized by old buildings and there is not one straight road. And it is also still not possible to buy a watch there.

From Nevis we sailed to St.Barth, a French island and the capital Gustavia crammed with extremely exclusive shops.  Apart from the capital the rest of the island is rather unspoilt with splendid bays where shark and rays swim under the boat and seaturtles come up frequently.

After two weeks we delivered Winie at the airport in St.Maarten. We'll stick aroundto give the broker a chance  to show the boat to eventual prospective buyers, but because of the coming hurricane season we'll head back to Trinidad by mid May.

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