Move into the Lagoon

The two bridges into the Lagoon in St. Martin open only twice a day, once in the morning and a second time in the afternoon. You might wonder why so few times, but when you consider the huge volume of traffic with only one road to handle all of it, you understand the reasoning. As cruisers, you simply plan ahead.

Marigot Bridge
Marigot Bridge

The bridges are only wide enough to handle one vessel at a time, so outbound boats exit first, then those inbound get their turn. Substantial current runs through these bridges, thus it’s important to leave enough space between boats to maintain no wake speed and strict control of your boat as there’s little room for error. MarigotBridge353
 When I first looked at the lagoon from the dinghy I was concerned that we’d have no wind and polluted conditions, given the fact there are thousands of boats in the lagoon. But a couple of days at anchor assured us that there was plenty of wind, and the water was surprisingly clear.
Island Dream, a Center-Cockpit Pearson 424  off to Starboard
Island Dream, a Center-Cockpit Pearson 424 off to Starboard

We anchored close to Pat and Darnell so we could stay in touch, and as it turned out, so we could help each other when one or the other needed something. Perhaps a run to the store or as a taxi when your dinghy motor died. Yes, our motor died again. After much diagnosing we discovered that the fuel line would not pass fuel – I suspected the check valve in the primer, but since I’d had trouble with the o-ring seals leaking, and 3 of four clamps were leaking, and now the valve, I decided to buy a new hose entirely, a genuine, factory assembled, Nissan hose, just like the one I’d left at home because it was too long. So much for West Marine’s aftermarket hose. 
Hurricanes can Ruin your Life and Cruising Dreams
Hurricanes can Ruin your Life and Cruising Dreams

Every time we dinghied to Marigot or Phillipsburg, we passed by all manner of derelict boats resurrected from the devastation of Hurricane Luis in 1995. That Category 4 storm destroyed approximately 1300 boats of the 1500 that were sheltered in the Lagoon thinking they were safe. Some were much larger than the trimaran you see off to the right. Most boats were towed away and were either crushed or salvaged. That storm will not soon be forgotten. The remnants of damage we see scattered all along our path south provide a potent reminder of the need to take all precautions necessary well in advance of any pending storm, hurricane or not. Once winds top 40 knots, it becomes very difficult to take any further preventive measures.
This is the Cruising Life
This is the Cruising Life

In spite of all the time we might spend talking about bad weather, strong winds, big waves, and rough passages, those times are very much in the minority. In reality, we spend far more time wandering around serene places like this little channel between the two sides of a very large marina near Cole Bay. Though we would not know the number until the season was over, in our near six months on the boat, we only spent two days on passage where we could say the conditions were truly uncomfortable.  

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