Tag Archives: St. Martin

Hurricane Irma (photo from Marine Weather Center's post)

HURRICANE IRMA – 2017 – by Theresa

First, thank you, to everyone, for reaching out to see how Pilots’ Discretion, and her crew, fared as Hurricane Irma tracked through the Caribbean. In preparation for the storm and in accordance with our hurricane plan, we spider tied Pilots’ Discretion, with doubled lines, in a double slip, on a floating dock, alone with no other boats, in St. Lucia. Irma was set to track north of St. Lucia, however, to be on the safe side, we left the boat in St. Lucia and flew to Florida to stay out of harms way!

As predicted, Hurricane Irma passed north of St. Lucia. We were incredibly grateful to learn that our pre-hurricane preparations were sufficient, and that St. Lucia was spared from the ferocity of the storm. The island received some rain and wind from the outer bands of the storm, but on the whole, the island and our boat, weathered the storm and are fine.

Having flown to Florida, we then holed up with family in Spring Hill, just north of Tampa, on the west coast of Florida. Having just gone through the hurricane preparations drill in St. Lucia our crew was ready and able to  assist with preparations for the “high impact” potential hit headed for our relatives in Spring Hill.

We listened to reports, and observed, painfully, the pictures of the devastation from the direct hits on Barbuda, St. Barthélemy (St. Bart), St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have travelled to all of these islands in previous cruising seasons, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the storm.

Paraquita Bay, British Virgin Islands (Before and After)

Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands, post hurricane Irma, 2017

Isleta Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico, post hurricane Irma, Sept. 2017

Foxy’s before (2016) and after (2017)

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma, Sept. 7, 2017

Forecasted Track for Hurricane Irma originally had her skirting up the east coast of Florida, Sept. 7, 2017

In Florida, the original forecasts had the storm tracking up the east coast. Slowly, the storm edged west with the later predictions indicating she would run up the middle of the Florida peninsula. Finally, within the last day prior to Florida landfall, the forecast consensus had Irma tracking up the west coast of Florida. We weathered the storm just north of Tampa. The eye passed just to our east during the middle of the night. We were extremely fortunate that a slight variation in the actual track of the storm placed us on the weak side of the circulation at the same time the storm was beginning to fall apart. We had a few hours of heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds mostly in the 40 knot range. Like most, we lost power and had a few downed trees to deal with but for the most part we came through the storm wiser for the experience but without taking any direct hits. We are all very aware of the potential devastation that just barely sidestepped us.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected by the storm. Florida, the islands, and those living and cruising in Florida and the Caribbean islands, are a resilient bunch. Communities have already banded together to address immediate needs and start the lengthy rebuilding process. Click here for additional photos, and to see several prominent business owners (including the infamous Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, Corsairs, Willie T’s) who have already vowed to rebuild!

Patton enjoying touring the fort, Gustavia, St. Bart

St. MARTIN & ST. BART (by Theresa)

ST. MARTIN

Ronan, Theresa, and Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

Ronan, Theresa, and Ryan, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

After resolving the boys passport issues in PuertoRico, we flew back to St. Martin to rejoin Randy, Patton and the boat at Fort Louis Marina. Fort Louis Marina is a secure and sheltered Marina located in the shadows of the ruins of Fort Louis. A short hike to the fort is rewarded with breathtaking views of Marigot Bay and the surrounding area. There are dozens of shops and restaurants, as well as a modern mall, all within walking distance to the Marina. You can also dinghy into the lagoon and cross over to the Dutch side of the island to access a sizeable Budget Marine.

Spot the Pilots Discretion, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

Spot the Pilots Discretion, Marigot Bay, St. Martin

ST. BART

Randy with Patton in his jet pack, ready to go hiking in St. Bart

Randy with Patton in his jet pack, ready to go hiking in St. Bart

After departing St. Martin, we cruised to Columbier Bay, St. Barthelemy (St. Bart), where we enjoyed hiking to the various forts in Gustavia. At 14 years old, Patton is, not surprisingly, less enthusiastic about long hikes than he once was. With that said, in deference to his namesake, Patton would not want to miss touring the forts with his family. As such, we gave him a lift in his “Snoozer” dog backpack carrier. Patton seemed to enjoy the elevated view from what Ryan and Ronan refer to as his “jet pack,” and the views were indeed stunning.

 

Patton hiking the hill with Randy on his back ;-)

Patton hiking the hill with Randy on his back 😉

 

Gustavia, St. Bart

Gustavia, St. Bart

Patton enjoying touring the fort, Gustavia, St. Bart

Patton enjoying touring the fort, Gustavia, St. Bart

Gustavia hike, St. Bart

Gustavia hike, St. Bart

Randy, Ronan & Ryan, St. Bart

Randy, Ronan & Ryan, St. Bart

Our next intended stops are St. Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua. We will post additional updates from there as time and internet allows.

On to St. Martin/St. Maarten and the Leeward Islands

R&R, Biras Creek, BVI

R&R, Biras Creek, Gorda Sound, BVI

After spending over a month enjoying the British Virgin Islands, it was finally time for us to move on. We staged for our 80 + nautical mile trip to St. Martin by spending our last night in the BVI in Gorda Sound on Virgin Gorda. At first light on April 25th, we were underway for St. Martin. Our first waypoint put us just offshore of Richard Branson’s private Necker Island.

Marina Fort-Louis, St. Martin

Marina Fort-Louis, St. Martin

From there we had very mild seas and sunny skies all the way into Marigot Bay, St. Martin. By the time we were securely anchored with Pilot’s Discretion’s tired crew ready to go ashore, customs and immigration had closed for the evening. As a result, we hoisted the quarantine flag and settled in for an evening aboard. I would go ashore first thing the next morning and deal with the immigration formalities.

Hoisting the French courtesy flag in St. Martin

Hoisting the French courtesy flag in St. Martin

On April 26th we cleared in at the Marina Fort Louis. The clear in procedure could not have gone more smoothly. Once the formalities had been taken care of we set out to explore by dinghy. The island is divided French from Dutch by a waterway and bay. If you transit by dinghy, there is no requirement to clear from the French (St. Martin) side into the Dutch (St. Maarten) side. There are rows and rows of waterfront restaraunts, all with dinghy docks and all very pet friendly.

Marigot, St. Martin

Marigot, St. Martin

The entire island has much to offer, so much so that we will not have as much time as we would like to explore, given our insurance induced requirement to be in Grenada by the end of this month. With that said, we are making the most of our time here. In addition to our dinghy exploration, we rented a car and drove around the island, scoping out the various beaches, bays and marinas.

Maho Beach, St. Martin

Maho Beach, St. Martin

Maho Beach, St. Martin

Maho Beach, St. Martin

First, we stopped in Maho Bay, on the Dutch side of the island, where the runway is only steps from the bay. The boys watched, in awe, the planes  landing just over the beach, a route that Randy has flown many times previously.

After lunch on the Dutch side of the island in Oyster Pond, we walked around
“the pond.”  Oyster Pond is actually a well protected inlet and home to Sunsail and Moorings charter companies. There are many mooring balls available in the pond.

Returning to the French side of the island, we visited the famous Orient, Anse Marcel, and Grand Case beaches.

imageAfter daylong beach hopping, and indulging in French and Dutch culinary cuisine, we hiked up to Fort Louis, overlooking Marigot Bay. The boys enjoyed running around exploring the fort, as we all enjoyed another glorious sunset and spectacular views of boats in the harbor below.

We will very definitely spend more time here when we return north up the Caribbean chain of islands after the next hurricane season passes.

For now, we are spending most of our time on the French side of the island. This weekend, we will cast off our lines once again. Our next stops will be St. Barts and Statia, until then, au revoir.