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The Simpson Bay Lagoon, where we are now anchored, is an interesting place. The irregularly-shaped body of water is huge, at its longest point just over 3 miles long and a mile wide. Like the entire island, it is divided down the center with the southern portion, where we are, controlled by the Dutch and the northern section under French control. The perimeter of the Lagoon is rimmed with marinas, many of them housing huge mega yachts, chandleries and other yacht service businesses, and bars/restaurants. So essentially, if you’re a boater, you can find anything and everything you need here.

The dotted line down the middle of the Lagoon divides it between the Dutch (lower section) and the French (upper section).

In order to get into the Lagoon, boats must pass under one of two draw bridges, one on the French side and one on the Dutch side. We entered through the Dutch-controlled Simpson Bay Bridge because that was where we were anchored. At is turned out, this was fortunate for us because we’ve heard that the French bridge, in Marigot Bay, has been broken for several days now and may remain so for another while yet.

“Get closer to the bridge” the bridge tender keeps saying.

Once open we need to get through as quickly as possible.

A couple of “tiny” boats followed us through.

As we made our way into the well-protected Lagoon, we saw plenty of boats anchored in the northern section but wide open spaces available closer to the bridge. Not prone to herd-ism like so many other cruisers, we chose the open area to anchor. It was reasonably shallow (7 feet deep) so we assumed that was why there were so few boats nearby. We have come to learn that the actual reason why it is so open is because we are on the Dutch side of the Lagoon. Why would that matter? The French and the Dutch apparently have very different fee structures in place here. When we cleared in to the country we were told by the Dutch authorities that we’d have to pay $20.00 US per week to either anchor outside in Simpson Bay or inside the Lagoon (our guide book says $10.00 so obviously they have raised the fees in the last year). There is also a $7.00 US fee to transit through their bridge. On the French side however, you pay only $5.00 EC when you clear in and I think another $5.00 EC when you leave (we were told this by another cruiser who had done so). As I recall, the last time we were in St. Martin the French customs/immigration people told us that we’d have to pay some other amount of money if we were to anchor in Marigot Bay. We never did pay and didn’t stay long enough for that to become an issue.

Note: $1.00 EC = $0.37 US

ZTC anchored with no other boats around her.

As I found on our last visit to St. Martin, free Wi-Fi signals are essentially non-existent. I was expecting this though so wasn’t too disappointed when I couldn’t connect. I did find a paid service by World Wi-Fi that I could subscribe to and so that we wouldn’t be without internet for our stay here, I coughed up $40.00 US for 200 hours of connection time. This was when we were outside in Simpson Bay of course. Do you think that we can get that same signal now that we’re inside the Lagoon, only 0.4 miles away? Negative. The signal doesn’t even show up. 🙁

Even though we were happy with our anchoring spot, not having internet is a bit of a deal-breaker. We started exploring other options and found another service with a seemingly strong signal. After paying the operator $15.00 for a week (we had to dinghy over to his boat to pay and get a password for the network) we were basically unable to connect. We even raised our anchor and drove all over the Lagoon, even into the French areas where we were told the signal was strong, but we still had no luck. Sadly we gave up, returning to anchor in our nice open spot, sans internet (the operator did return us our money which he told us he would if it didn’t work for us). Unable to obtain internet on board, we were forced to go the “old-fashioned” route and take our computer to shore. As you might imagine, there are numerous places where Wi-Fi signals can be obtained on land. What did we choose? McDonalds! Yes kids, there’s a McDonalds in Sint Maarten. I haven’t seen one of those in a while. Getting connected was important because we needed to book Rebecca’s flights to Los Angeles. I am happy to report that it is all done but not so happy that I’ll be without her for a week. Now we just need to decide where we’re going to anchor the boat while she is gone.

I just “had” to have a Big Mac since we were using their Wi-Fi.

Rebecca found this in the newspaper while I was booking the plane tickets.

A local cruisers’ hangout.

$1.25 US for a beer. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Pretty much in line with Grenada prices.


  1. Looks like a clean and beautiful place … and $1.25 beers! Sounds like paradise!

  2. Hate to tell you this but the French side fee is in EURO’s and not in East Caribbean Dollars, but it is still cheaper than the Dutch side. That is why there is no one near where you are!

  3. One thing I’m curious about, Mike:
    Generally speaking, have you found the various port fees, clearance fees, etc. down there to be flat-rate, or are you getting charged according to the size of the boat?

  4. So, how was your trip to the National Heritage Foundation Museum? Or was there something else on that page of the paper you could have been interested in? Ha Ha Ha. Looks like your having a grand time. Only 5 years 5 months and 27 more days to go! I cant wait till I can retire and set off on our adventure.

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