Poor St Maarten. It’s not the island’s fault. It’s not the people’s fault. They’re lovely. But half an hour before it was time to leave, it was announced that the America’s Cup crewing excursion I was booked on was cancelled, due to lack of wind. We’ve been through some astonishing levels of wind in the past week, and yet, when we get here, there isn’t enough to even lift the flag on the bow. On the mastcam on the telly, it can be seen hanging like a wet dishrag. So I won’t be crewing an America’s Cup yacht around part of the America’s Cup course. Disappointment No. 1.
So I changed my clothes and we went ashore instead. There is a lovely little purpose-built quayside, with the usual, eye-wateringly expensive shops and some cheaper ones as well. The stuff on offer was lovely, and I bought a few gifts and a t-shirt (or two…). We stopped for a drink with a gecko and a chicken. Mum was finding it hard to deal with the heat, so we went back to the ship, and its associated air con, for lunch.
We went back out again with the intention of taking a taxi tour of at least part of the island, but they have carteled the prices and mum and dad decided it was too expensive. So we just went into town, Philipsburg, and Dad and I walked along the Broadwalk, which reminded us very much of Na’ama Bay in Sharm El Sheikh. This means, essentially, a purpose-built, crescent-shaped beachfront with beautiful white coral beaches like you see in the postcards, umbrellas and sunloungers to the left and bars and restaurants to the right. Most of which were open on the seafront, whereas one street further back, the main shopping area of the town was utterly desolate, completely shut down.
Because the other problem is that we are in Dutch (and French) territory on Good Friday. So everything is shut (except, presumably, the churches). It’s tricky to see what a place is really like when it’s shut. Disappointment No. 2. Even if I had remembered to bring my euros ashore, I couldn’t spend them.
So we went back to the port. We had another drink and enjoyed the sunshine and then the parents went back to the ship and I wandered around the shops a little longer before returning myself.
We had a fabulous sailaway party on deck 9 and then I rushed to dinner and the evening proceeded as usual. I avoided alcohol and opted for an early night, as the back to back port thing is starting to get to me a bit.