Hi Monte - in all my visits to SXM I have never entered the lagoon
and have no regrets and no intention to do so in the future. Some cruisers do nothing else but enter the lagoon
as soon as they get there and don't leave until they leave the island. But I like to run my water
maker every day..... Technically, you have to pay a fee to traverse the Dutch Bridge but I know lots of cruisers who have never paid anything. Go figure.
Clearing in on the Dutch side is way more expensive than on the French side and goes in increments of weeks and is according to your vessel length. It costs me US$40/week for anchoring
outside the lagoon or just being there. If you clear in on the Dutch side they will ask you whether you will enter the lagoon and charge you more if you intend to or have done so already. Many cruisers enter the lagoon thru the Dutch bridge and get to the French side and clear in on the French side at Port Royale and never pay anything to the Dutch. Cheaper and easier, but I'm not sure whether this is completely legal
. Costs on the French side was either 5 or 7 euro, I can't remember, for as long as you stay.
The new swing bridge is coordinated with the Dutch bascule bridge, as you would expect. For an "outgoing" bascule bridge, the swing bridge opens 15 minutes earlier and vice versa on an "incoming" bascule bridge. There is a bascule bridge on the French side, but it's a lot narrower. Your boat should be fine. I can't remember the Dutch bridge opening times, but I never needed to know them except to watch the parade in and out.
If anchoring in Marigot Bay, expect to be hassled by the harbour guys who will demand you "check in" at the customs
office on the ferry dock
so they can charge you mooring fees
applicable only for anchoring in Marigot Bay - no where else on the French side. Go figure again. Someone reported their boat was destroyed during the hurricane
last year and maybe this stopped the hassling. Regardless, most cruisers ignore this and clear in at the customs
office at the Captainerie in Port Royale. Dink to the waterfront, lock your dink and walk thru town to the inner harbour. Find the Captainerie, which used to be at the end of the inner dock
, but I hear has now moved, perhaps. Or dink in to the lagoon via the French bridge, turn left and go as far as you can, looking for the Captainerie.
cruisers net in the Carib is run by Mike of Shrimpy's Laundry
on channel 10 at 0730, I think, X Sunday. Very entertaining and informative.
Enjoy! Good prices at both Island Water
World and Budget Marine
for boat stuff. This island is no place for recovering alcoholics....
Edit: I've been boarded twice by the Dutch Coast Guard. Once in Simpson Bay, while anchored, and once down at Saba
, while heading to the mooring
field. They were professional and we had no issues - because we were fully legal
. But if we were NOT fully legal, e.g., had the proper clearance papers, who knows what would have happened? Just stay legal.