Sahlman Blog Series: Post 6 – Spellbound

This is the sixth post in a series by author Susi Sahlman. This post was originally published on Susi’s blog, Sahlman Art Blog. You can check our her beautiful St. Martin themed original artwork here

December 12, 2017 – We appreciate the walkability in Simpson Bay and Pelican Key. Fun and food are only steps away. Sunday Funday began with a walk from our hotel to the Yacht Club. They collect their fair share of patronage throughout the day and night. Show up a couple of times a week and those regulars become friends. This was our starting and ending point of the day.

We met a dinghy which brought us out under the drawbridge into the bay to our boat for the day. After making several round trips all the passengers were accounted for and the anchor was raised. Heading away from the bay we sailed toward Maho to begin our journey around SXM.

With each passing area the stories started. Bombed out shells instead of resorts were interspersed with those less affected. Some of the taller buildings were twisted by Irma’s winds. Damages cost well above what insurance paid out totaling in the many millions. One of the buildings had collapsed where a man was pulled out alive from beneath concrete slabs. Baie Rouge lost so much sand the beach is now ten feet lower.

Talk of a naive couple with their baby who stayed on their boat in the lagoon during Irma was sobering. The father was found along the shoreline while the mom was found still aboard the boat. It is a wonder that the baby survived, floating in the water strapped into a flotation device. Such a heartbreaking story and there are many more.

Passing Marigot the flag no longer flies from Fort St. Louis. It was hard to comprehend the many losses on the island with it looking so beautiful from our vantage point.

At Creole Rock we stopped for those who wanted to snorkel or swim. Another boat full was already there enjoying the water. The current and wind were quite strong.

As we passed Anse Marcel it seemed that not much remained of the buildings near the water. So ironic to see a catamaran anchored so close to shore.

The sea became rougher near the Cayes. A handful of surfers picked their way along the edge. I wondered if they dared to ride any of the waves.

The French dump was burning. Adjacent to the fire was a car graveyard. Vehicles piled high damaged from the hurricane were monochrome tones of rust.

We anchored at Tintamarre where we explored some of the island. So much sand was pushed far into the brush line. The same thing happened around the corner across from St. Barth. Coral and shells piled in mass one hundred fifty feet from the shore. We cut inland for our return. Not much had changed. Along the way we spotted fresh goat droppings although we didn’t see any goats. We were thankful to know they were alright.

After lunch we continued by sail along back toward Philipsburg. We surveyed the very obvious destruction along the entire coastline. We listened to another story out of Quarter D’Orleans of a fireman who stayed home to help his neighbors. Some folks who had survived hurricane Luis decided to ride out Irma. In the morning during the eye he used a rope to swim across the road. It was ten feet deep with water. His neighbors clung to their roof desperately hoping for help to come before part two of the storm.

Heading back to Simpson Bay we all commented on the health risks of the burning dump in Phillipsburg. Once anchored we enjoyed one last drink with captain Ian as we watched the golden sunset. Back at the Yacht Club we were still in time for happy hour where we joined more friends.

Please help support and rebuild SXM today. Click here to visit the SXM Strong donate page.

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Susi Sahlman

An artist and blogger, Susi has a passion for the island of Saint Martin. She's been visiting the island with her husband Bill for 21 years. You can follow her blog at and see her artwork at

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