Sint Maarten

Government Overseas Eilandgebied of the Netherlands, part of Netherlands Antilles Sint Maarten Flag
Capital Philipsburg
Currency Netherlands Antilles Guilder (ANG) but US$ is common currency
Area 34km2
Population (2009) 41,000
Language Dutch (English)
Islands 1 (main island)
Economy Tourism (85%)
GDP per Capita $11,400 (n.a., Netherlands 16th worldwide) [2008 Data]
Links CIA Factbook, Wikipedia Page

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The map at the right shows the Dutch part of the island in tan. I spent a lot of time and money in that half of the island - it is a true duty-free shopping Mecca; the French side being more of a gustatory and cultural destination. While my shopping at the cruise ship area (jewellery and other bling items) in Philipsburg is rather limited, I do head off to the large chandleries at Island Waterworld and Budget Marine and other boat-related stores such as Electec plus numerous smaller establishments.

While the two countries have no real border checkpoints on the roads, there is a real border between them when it comes to boats. When travelling via boat from country to country, one needs to formally “check out” of one nation and receive clearance papers, then officially check into the next country. They usually will not allow you to check in without getting the previous countries' clearance papers. On Saint Martin the Dutch and French sides compete for boating income and thus they jealously guard their prerogatives. The big Simpson Bay anchorage area is accessible to boats via two drawbridges, one on the French side (shallow draft, small channel) and one on the Dutch side (deep draft for Mega yachts) and the border runs somewhere through the middle. One can dinghy back and forth with impunity, but moving a boat from one side to the other requires one to check out of the one country and back into the other. I made the mistake of sailing on the outside from the Dutch side, where I had checked in, to the French side and anchoring there. A not-so-friendly customs patrol informed me of my faux-pas and I wasn't allowed to return to the Dutch side, I had to dinghy over to the customs & immigration offices, wait in line for an hour to check out, then return to the French side and wait there in order to check in.

St. Martin is host to the annual Heineken Regatta which draws sailors from all over the world for a week of partying interspersed with a bit of sailing! As I don't race boats, I end up being a volunteer on the committee boat so I get a very close-up view of the events, see Heineken Regatta 2013 and Heineken Regatta 2014 for some pictures.

For a map with clickable pictures from this site displayed geographically please click here

Snapshot taker Rob really had no luck with camera on this day, each time he wanted to get a picture of a landing plane the camera would delay a bit and none of his pictures turned out.

[18°2'23.49"N 63°7'14.19"W (facing S)]
Snapshot taker
Laura Dekker leaving St. Martin Laura Dekker (presumably with her parent aboard), going through the Dutch drawbridge in St. Martin and departing the Simpson Baie Lagoon for the outside anchorage.

[18°2'9.72"N 63°5'35.27"W (facing W)]
Laura Dekker leaving St. Martin
Philipsburg bay Philipsburg bay

[18°1'22.23"N 63°3'28.37"W (facing E)]
Philipsburg bay
Airbus in the spreaders Each day the Air France Airbus heading to Paris would roar its way over my boat. Here the jet is just raising the landing gear.

[18°2'31.46"N 63°5'37.66"W (facing W)]
Airbus in the spreaders
St. Martin megayachts St. Martin megayachts
St. Martin megayachts
Philipsburg waterfront The waterfront stores and promenade in Philipsburg on a day with no cruise ships.
(2014-01-20 14:26:35 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/400s] ISO 125)
Philipsburg waterfront
Dutch / French border The only place in the world where France and Holland have a border (now you can answer that question on Trivial Pursuit!)
(2013-02-27 16:25:29 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/60s] ISO 100 Focus 2.66m)
Dutch / French border
Simpson Bay from above Simpson Bay from above

[18°1'55.19"N 63°4'27.35"W (facing NW)]
Simpson Bay from above
Old Street in Philipsburg The street names in Philipsburg are easy to remember - Front Street, Old Street, Back Street, Old Street and others in a similar vein.
(2012-01-08 16:46:31 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/125s] ISO 100 Focus 2.24m)
[18°1'26.13"N 63°2'47.9"W (facing NE)]
Old Street in Philipsburg
Our committee boat crew! The final party for the volunteers at the Heineken Regatta was well-organized, just like the main event. While the liquor was plentiful and free, the food disappeared very quickly.
(2014-03-12 21:36:55 NIKON D7100 with a "35.0 mm f/1.8" lens. [f/3.2, 1/60s] ISO 1000)
Our committee boat crew!

(2014-03-09 15:14:46 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/16.0, 1/100s] ISO 100)

(2014-03-09 12:56:54 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/2000s] ISO 100)
KLM Jumbo on final The daily KLM Boeing 747 arriving at the airport while we are anchored at the starting line.
(2014-03-09 12:37:40 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/6.3, 1/640s] ISO 100)
KLM Jumbo on final
Heineken Regatta 2014 - Committee Boat Heineken Regatta 2014 - Committee Boat
(2014-03-08 08:59:56 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/5.6, 1/320s] ISO 100)
Heineken Regatta 2014 - Committee Boat

(2014-03-08 11:18:20 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/9.0, 1/400s] ISO 100)
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