Marigot Bay, St. Martin (Left, March 2015 and Right, March 2018)

ST. MARTIN – SIX MONTHS AFTER HURRICANE IRMA – by Theresa

The cruisers’ forums have been reporting that in the six months since  St. Martin took a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Irma, recovery efforts have been, not surprisingly, slow and arduous. Countless wrecks had to be removed from the navigatable waters and docks needed to be repaired and/or replaced. Repairs to the marine infrastructure were secondary to repairs to individuals’ homes, businesses and land infrastructure. With all of that in mind, we approached the island trepidatiously and with an eye towards assisting in the recovery efforts.

We had heard through the coconut telegraph that Fort Louis Marina, in Marigot Bay, had partially reopened. We had enjoyed our stays there previously in 2015 and 2016 [see St. Martin (2015) and St. Martin (2016)], so we were glad to learn that they had survived the storm. We contacted the marina in advance of our arrival to determine what marine services were available. They informed us that fuel, water, electric and floating docs were all available. We spent the first night in St. Martin on the hook in Marigot Bay, astonishinly, one of only a few boats in the entire bay.

Pilots' Discretion Position Report (March 2018)

Pilots’ Discretion Position Report (March 2018)

We picked up fuel in the marina first thing the next morning and then tied up to a floating dock. The dock staff were fantastic, setting up brand new / movable cleats exactly where we needed them to hold the boat.

Pilots' Discretion in her slip (floating docks), Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Pilots’ Discretion in her slip (floating docks, Moorings sailboat pulling in port side, astern), Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

After securing the boat, we headed towards the office to clear immigration  & customs, and to check in to the marina. It was then that we got our first glimpses of the devastation that Irma had bestowed upon the island. Six months after the hurricane had past, one might justly have concluded that it had just blown through the day before. As boaters, it was hard for us to look upon vessels, sunken in their slips.

Ryan looking over the sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan looking over a sunken vessel (snapped of mast lying on the dock), Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan looking over the sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan looking over a sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessels, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessle, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Sunken vessel, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Half of the marina was closed as the docks and water and electric pedestals were in complete disrepair.

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

It was both evident and comforting to see that efforts were being made to repair the docks, including rewiring the electric.

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Looking past more sunken boats and mangled docks, we saw hotels that were still without roofs and windows.

Damaged docks, sunken vessel, missing roofs, Fort Louis Marina / Marigot Bay St. Martin (March 2018)

Damaged docks, sunken vessel, missing roofs, Fort Louis Marina / Marigot Bay St. Martin (March 2018)

The old Fort Louis Marina office, had not yet reopened, because it, too, suffered the wrath of Irma. We were told the windows blew out and the wind and water destroyed everything in side.

Old marina office, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2108)

Old marina office, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2108)

Old office, Fort Louis Marina, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Old office, Fort Louis Marina, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

The new office and the immigration & customs clearing-in computer have been relocated to the building directly accross the street from the marina.

Once outside, we saw more remnants of Irma. Streetlights and signs were bent over and concrete sidewalks were torn up. There was hardly a car in the parking lot that did not show some sign of hurricane damage.

St. Martin (March 2018)

St. Martin (March 2018)

Random boat debris and road or sidewalk hazards were roped off with caution tape. A disconnected center console hardtop (with seats and rear fridge) on the sidewalk was an unusual sight. However, the backdrop of the beautiful yachts in the water, directly behind the still visible signs of Irma’s destructive powers, showed clear signs that the marine community is recovering.

St. Martin (March 2018)

St. Martin (March 2018)

Many of the European candelabra style streetlights just outside the marina were damaged. LED floodlights atop the poles provided adequate interim lighting.

LED floodlight - temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

LED floodlight – temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

LED floodlight - temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

LED floodlight – temporary light fixture fix, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

After clearing in, we strolled around the area. The Saint Martin Yacht Club, just outside and to the left of the marina, was open. While it suffered some damage to its glass balcony, it is a great waterfront spot for a waterside sundowner or a meal.

Marigot Bay Yacht Club, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot Bay Yacht Club, St. Martin (March 2018)

While walking along the waterfront, we saw more than the usual amount of Iguanas. Perhaps there homes, too, were disrupted by the storms.

Iguana, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Iguana, Fort Louis Marina, St. Martin (March 2018)

Iguanas, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Iguanas, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

A short walk outside, and to the right, of the marina, we found the West Indies Shopping Mall open for business.

West Indies Shopping Mall, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

West Indies Shopping Mall, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Down by the ferry docks, people were taking pictures in front of the infamaous “I love SXM” sign. The ferries to Anguilla and St. Bart were running on schedule and most of the restaurants in the square by the ferry docs were open.

Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

On previous visits, we had hiked to Fort Louis, at the top of the mountain just outside the marina. See St. Martin (2015) and St. Martin (2016)

Fort Louis, St. Martin

Fort Louis, St. Martin

The fort always provided stunning views of the marina and Marigot Bay below. The views were still stunning, however, the cautionary tape at the eroded precipice was yet another sign of the damage Irma left behind.

Fort Louis, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Fort Louis, Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Looking out from the fort, we saw many blue tarps providing shelter to those structures still without roofs.

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot, St. Martin (March 2018)

The most stunning view was that of Marigot bay. The lack of vessels in the bay below was a stark juxtaposition to our previous visits to Marigot Bay and a strong signal that the level of marine tourism in St. Martin has declined precipitously.

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2015)

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2015)

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot Bay, St. Martin (March 2018)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2015)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2015)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2018)

Marigot Bay and Simpson’s Lagoon, St. Martin, (March 2018)

We did not travel outside of Marigot Bay, as we have on previous visits [see St. Martin (2015) and St. Martin (2016)], so we cannot report on how the rest of the island is faring. What we can say is, what we saw in Marigot Bay was the strength and resolve of the people to rebuild their beautiful island. Everyone we met was warm, friendly and inviting. In sum, St. Martin is still a beautiful cruising destination.

Our next port of call, The British Virgin Islands (BVIs), also took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. More on what we encountered in the BVIs in our next post.

6 thoughts on “ST. MARTIN – SIX MONTHS AFTER HURRICANE IRMA – by Theresa

  1. J.C. AUSMUS, III

    Very sobering but good report. I really enjoyed this and the last report. Looking forward to what you find in the BVI. GOD bless this family. JC

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  2. Anette Decker

    Reading about the devastation and seeing it firsthand is totally different. Thanks for all the photos, especially pre and post Irma. Love the spirit of the island people, and pray for a calm hurricane season this year so they can continue rebuilding.
    We will be in Philipsburg on a cruise May 17 and May 23 celebrating Frank’s 89th & our 45th anniversary. So sorry our dates do not match as it would be great to meet up for a visit at the mariana.
    Thanks as always for the posts from your amazing family:)
    Frank & Anette

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