Saint Martin after hurricane Irma

Tags: Grand Case, Marigot, sailing, St. Martin

Date: November 28, 2017

After Anguilla, we went to St. Martin which was only two hours sailing away. We anchored in Marigot where we cleared in. There were still many signs of hurricane Irma:

Here is a picture of the bay:

The marina in the front is almost empty, whereas it was completely full when we were last here. Out in the bay there were not as many boats anchored as last season. Still, we were a little surprised that there were that many. It turned out that the main reason was that neighboring Simpson Bay was so hard hit by the hurricane that very few were anchored there. So on the whole, St. Martin / Sint Maarten must have a lot fewer visiting boats than last season.

Here are some pictures of the sorry state of the boats around here:

It was not just boats that were damaged, most cars had at least one broken window, several had no windows left at all. Some had a broken front window that you could hardly look through, but the didn't seem to hold people back in terms of driving the cars.

It is always hard to judge how bad hurricane damage is from the media. They will always show the worst pictures they can find. But to put the damage here in perspective, a local told us that after the hurricane you could take a front page image for a newspaper and then move five meters to one side, take a new front page image and so on for the whole island. He also mentioned that the island looks a lot better now than right after the hurricane.

We spent some days in the town of Grand Case. They were fighting to re-open their bars and restaurants. Here is a sign from a bar we went to called "Les Bains":

The main street:

Last we were here, there must have been twenty restaurants in town. Of these, three were open now. We went to a restaurant called "La Villa" which was really nice and it did have some customers.

Here is one of the better supermarkets on the Dutch side:

As you can see, it is quite damaged on the outside, but still open. It is much better off than the Carrefour supermarket, which was completely destroyed, sadly partly due to a wave of looting in the aftermath of Irma. Interestingly, the two supermarkets have joined forces and the supermarket above now also contains goods from Carrefour. So it is quite densely packed inside and still somewhat disorganized. There must have been twenty people working there putting food and other goods on the shelves.

On the Dutch side 70 % of the houses were severely damaged and on the French side, around 50 % of the houses were uninhabitable after the hurricane. Total damages are estimated at around five billion dollars for the whole island, which is around 70,000 dollars per person living on the island.

There is no shortage of food on the island and even though many stores, restaurants and bars were closed, there were still plenty of nice places to go. So going to St. Martin is certainly fine now. In fact, St. Martin will be guests of honor at the large Paris Boat Show, where they will be trying to get sailors to come back and help the economy get going again. Both the French side and the Dutch side got a lot of support from their respective European counterparts.

It was not all hurricane damage and destruction on St. Martin. We visited our friends Rikke, Jerry and their two kids on the Dutch side of the island. Here, Bjarne is making æbleskiver for everybody:

Félicie made glögg and later Jerry made a great dinner including barbecued spare ribs.