Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | December 26, 2011

Christmas Winds

N 18° 03.77′   W 63° 05.31′

Simpson Bay Lagoon, Marigot, St. Martin

Christmas on Simpson Bay beach

Here in the eastern Caribbean, one looks for the Christmas Winds to mark the season. They arrived right on cue this week. Amazing!

In the winter season strong winds of 25 to 30 knots or so blow for days at a time. This weather pattern usually begins in December, thus the designation “Christmas Winds”. The name sounds festive, but with conditions just shy of gale force, it is not a fun time to be at sea, especially in a smaller vessel. We are glad to be snug in the Lagoon, although the fierce winds generate white caps even in this sheltered body of water. Traveling upwind can make for a wet dinghy ride.

Holiday activities in Marigot began a little later than is typical at home. The town and shopkeepers put up decorations during the first two weeks of the month. Stores offered Christmas specials. Santa made appearances for the children. Full-size live Christmas trees were available at the supermarket for 25 euros, about 33 dollars. There were nightly festivities along the Marigot waterfront including bands and entertainment with holiday, Caribbean and popular music. A few of the boats at dock have Christmas lights.

Our decorations are limited to a couple of ornaments and a pretty seashell wreath, a hand made gift from my sister. After reading a fellow cruiser’s blog about her difficulties baking Christmas cookies aboard, I stuck with making banana bread to share. It is my new favorite recipe, even easier than our traditional pumpkin bread and with bananas so plentiful here it seemed more tropical and appropriate.

We delivered small loaves to a couple of our boating neighbors, including one man on a sailboat farther out in the anchorage who we felt deserved some extra holiday cheer. Lady loves to harass him with her fiercest barking when he passes by our boat like clockwork in the morning and evening. For some reason this nice man in a slow-moving, quiet dinghy has been a special target. It turns out that he has a dog aboard that is much like Lady. He was most understanding about crazy dogs and we made a new friend.

The cruising community here organized holiday activities on the Dutch side. We were lucky that the Christmas Winds lightened so that trips across the Lagoon were not miserable. We spent Christmas Eve at Barnacles, a small Greek waterfront restaurant and enjoyed a meal of Greek Lasagna and a White Elephant holiday gift exchange. Everyone brought something from the bilge, as they say, wrapped it up, and we took turns opening gifts. After opening the gift we could select someone to swap with if we preferred. The most popular gifts were an LED light and a bottle of rum. Bob and I had two bottles of champagne, walkie-talkie headsets, and a small table top Tiffany lamp at one point. At the finale of the swap we ended up with a trouble light and a string of rope lights to take home.

On Christmas evening we went to a pot luck dinner on the beach in Simpson Bay. La Bamba, a small beach bar, offered their picnic tables under the tiki roof and bar service and everyone brought food to share. Live music, a bonfire and Christmas tree on the beach made a festive atmosphere. We enjoyed meeting many interesting people and hearing stories of their travels. When the music got too loud for conversation we decided to walk over to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club (a bar & restaurant) located next to the Dutch bridge so we could continue to chat. 

It has been fun to celebrate the holidays in a different way this year with new friends.  Getting e-mails from friends at home and sharing in the family gathering via a Christmas Day Skype call were special for me too, and helped ease the sadness of being so far away from family and friends at home this holiday season. 


With the Christmas Winds howling the mooring arrangement has been interesting, but it works. The boats swing together gently and the fenders prevent us from touching.


A sole marching band paraded through the streets of Marigot at night during the holiday week. The instruments were mostly drums, with a couple of horns. Band uniforms consisted of a variety of different costumes.


Bob loved the Tiffany lamp. But where to put on the boat?


Not to worry, the lamp was quickly "stolen". Our final gifts were easier to transport home.


Lots of deelish goodies at the pot luck. Sue's meatballs dipped in cranberry sauce were a hit.


Crews from Earthling, Callaloo, Mar Azul & Easy Listening enjoying a very different Christmas celebration this year

Happy Holidays to all from the Mar Azul!


  1. MERRY CHRISTMAS Bob & Elaine!

    Looks like you had a fun celebration! We have listened to bands play at LaBamba and have stayed at both The Atrium (tall building next to LaBamba) and Simpson Bay Marina (formerly Pelican Resort). We now own at LaVista, out on Pelican Key (just outside of Simpson Bay, but very close to LaBamba). Hope those Christmas winds calm down for you! Counting down the days til we join you in paradise!

  2. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas too, Glen! We have walked near Pelican Key – that is a great location. On a calm day we can dinghy to the Simpson Bay Marina in about 10 minutes – quicker than driving in the crazy traffic. We look forward to seeing some familiar faces here soon!!

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