St Martin/ Sint Maarten arrival info

As we approached the island from Sint Eustatius, it became abundantly obvious that this island was quite different to all the others we had seen so far. This one had much larger buildings several stories high that were visible a great deal away & then there is the airport in Simpsons Bay, where you can see large planes coming in & leaving from the edge of the island.

The south of the island (Dutch) known as Sint Maarten is known for being a bit more built up & well resourced in comparison to the north (French, St Marten). It is also generally a little more expensive when it comes to anchoring and checking in.

We have always liked the French way of doing things in general, so decided to anchor in Marigot & check in at Ile Marine. Apparently you can do it at any of the chandleries or with the Port Authority, but the Port Authority appeared to have a bit of a reputation for making things harder than they need to be (research was via noforeignland & navily), so we avoided them like the plague. If you wish to use the mooring balls here in Marigot, there is a clearance form that you need to fill out online with the Port Authority, but if you plan to do clearance at Ile Marine, you just need your typical boat papers, passports etc & a bit of time up your sleeve to go into the marine shop to do your clearance.

They apparently aren’t the fastest with clearance, according to other reviews we read, but when Geoff was there, a lady was trying to register her boat paperwork & had no idea if her boat had a mast & how many it had, so it’s not necessarily their fault. Definitely bring a sense of humour with you. Packing some popcorn, might also help you enjoy those free potential moments of entertainment too (just kidding).

Paying for a mooring ball isn’t necessarily a given though, if you grab one. We arrived in St Martin with Ripple (a family of four, from the USA, sailing on a catamaran) & they decided to snag a mooring ball & somehow managed not to pay for their stay at all. It could have something to do with a switch over in process that they are going through, but we have also found the French to be fairly laid back as well.

Marigot isn’t too bad overall to anchor in, you need to try not to anchor too close to the channel area that the powerboats use as a thoroughfare, but know that some special souls care not & will rip through the anchorage where they please. I guess there is an ignorance of the effects of their actions or some really do take great delight in seeing how fast they can get out to open water & have placed bets with mates as to how violently they can shift the boats anchored nearby. 😜 Being here & seeing the speed at which some leave & enter the area, I now know why you sometimes see posts on social media of turtles hit by boaters here. 😕 People definitely swim around the anchorage still, so it’s just something to be aware of if you are swimming or your kids are.

Of note: sailclear isn’t used by any of the French Islands (Dutch side, Sint Maarten seems to use it though) to clear in, we used it to clear in & out of Sint Eustatius, with mention made that we were sailing onto St Martin, but it is not an official method of clearance in or out with customs & immigration for any of the French islands.

One more tip: Shrimp’s does a cruisers net on VHF 10 M-F from 7.30am which is a good way to get to know others, ask questions, listen in & find out useful information via 😊

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