Things have eased up a little more on the French side and we are now allowed off our boat and can go to shore. We took advantage of this and took off for a 6 mile hike. We really didn’t care where we were going, we just needed off of the boat and craving some exercise. We continued along the road hoping we would find a public beach along the way because the beaches were now open for use. However, seems like all of the real-estate along the ocean is either private homes or neighborhoods. We followed the road until we came to the Dutch border where the road was blocked. You are still not allowed to cross over into the Dutch side of St. Martin. When we arrived in St. Martin we anchored outside of the lagoon in Simpson Bay and the next day came through the two Dutch bridges and settled on anchoring on the French side of the lagoon, just along the border.

As soon as we anchored, we all went to the grocery store on the Dutch side because it is a nice one and we knew things were going to get shutdown. Good thing, because the next day everything was shutdown and we were never permitted to go to the Dutch side again.

Anticipating that our time in St. Martin was going to be ending soon (we hoped), we had to find another SIM card for Renée phone. We both were using GoogleFi and were happy with the coverage until one day they shut the data portion of Renée’s phone down. Turns out that GoogleFi started stopping data access for users that have been out of the United States for over 6 months in a row. Since we went to France last year and technically not back to the USA except to spend one night waiting for our connecting flight, we were gone a total of 18 months. So we decided to take another 6 mile walk in the other direction. This time into the town of Marigot to the DigiCel store where you can get 40GB a month for just $38.00. DigiCel has coverage throughout the Caribbean Islands and we can cancel at any time.

It was a nice walk to town and to be able to see how the locals live. No matter which island we visit, they all have murals painted on the buildings. On the way back we walked along the beach near our anchorage and favorite Italian Restaurant, Mezza Luna. You can still see the devastation from two years ago in the beach picture below. The condo units are completely gone and all that is left is the concrete structure. You see this all over the French side of St. Martin. We were told that the insurance companies were two years late in paying out the claims and right before the COVID-19 shutdown, money started coming in and buildings were starting to get repaired. We could see quite a bit of reconstruction and repairs but it looked like it would be years before it was all back to the way it was. Granted we did not go many places during our 70 days, what we could see was mostly depressing unless you were one of the ultra-wealthy.

We heard about Le Belle Creole, an abandoned resort that is located just about a mile from our anchorage. We decided that another field day ashore was what we needed so we went exploring.

The 26-acre peninsula point was selected in the early 1980’s as the Island’s premier resort location by Hilton Worldwide. The 5 star resort opened in 1985 and operated as a Conrad Hilton International Resort. It consisted of 162 rooms within 22 buildings that totaled 190,000 square feet. You can walk through several of the buildings and see the remains of fountains and pools on the property. Le Belle Creole was closed following a hurricane strike in 1995 and never reopened. There is a man made lagoon on the ocean and a separate island with what’s left of a bridge that leads you to it.

It is really depressing to see it like this and you can just imagine that this place must have really been something special, especially back in 1985. The property is currently for sale and St. Martin hopes that somebody will purchase it and redevelop the area. Until such time, the Iguana’s call it home.

Our dingy chaps that we made a couple of years ago usually require some amount of patching and sewing at the beginning of each cruising season.  While cruising when we leave our dingy onshore or at a dingy dock, it can get pushed up against the dock and eventually rub through the fabric. It is not unusual to see 20+ dingoes at a dock depending upon the popularity of the anchorage. The material we used is a heave fabric called Sunbrella and requires a sewing machine to really do the repair. Here Renée is using her bare hands to make the patch that will suffice until it can be permanently repaired.

We were notified that we are now permitted to travel to Grenada and our window to arrive is May 24 – 26th. Since all of the islands are CLOSED to visitors, we would have to make the trip non-stop and sail for three days strait. Upon arrival, we have to check-in at the Port Louie Marina to be processed and then immediately go to the quarantine designated anchorage where we would anchor and stay on 5KNOTS for another 14 days of quarantine. After the 14 days, we have to take a COVID-19 test and wait for the results before permitted ashore and allowed to continue to the boatyard where we will be hauled and stored for hurricane season.

The trip from St. Martin to Grenada will be around 390 nautical miles depending on how well we can sail with the wind direction. We are excited to be able to get moving again and will be leaving in the morning.