Sint Maarten arrests bode well for the island's future

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Sailing paradise
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There has been a collective sigh of relief by all in the yacht industry in Sint Maarten (St Martin), one of the great sailing venues of the Caribbean, after the arrest of three Domincan men for the grisley murder of 37-year-old French causcasian cook from the mega yacht Cheetah Moon, Ludivic Guillevin, in February.

They have also been accused of the murder of two other men on the half Dutch (Sint Maarten), half French(St Martin) island.

Occurring just before the Heineken Regatta in St. Martin, it had cast a pall over the island. St. Martin is a huge base to yachts and many mega yachts. As a result of the murder of Cheetah Moon's cook, the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association expressed outrage at the increase in crimes against members of the marine community.

Association Treasurer Lorraine Talmi told the local paper, 'This is not the first time nor, do I fear, will it be the last. In fact, this is the second time in a week that a crew member was abducted from the Simpson Bay area. The first one managed to escape, and perhaps that is why, if it is the same gang, the second one wasn't nearly as lucky.'

Readers may remember that solo circumnavigator Mike Harker of the Manhattan Beach-based Hunter 49 Wanderlust 3 was severely beaten on his boat on the hook in St. Martin's Simpson Bay (See Sail-World_story).

For some time there has been serious concern about security on the island - Customs and Immigration Office in St. Maarten used to have a poster warning captains and crews of the dangers of gangs of male youths on the island.

Knowledgeable cruisers, when on the island, have recently remained acutely aware of their surroundings and the circumstances. Precautions included not going anywhere alone after dark, sticking to the more crowded areas, and relaxing only when on the boat or on the beach.

In the Bay
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The shame of it all is that St. Martin, which is half French and half Dutch, is spectacularly beautiful, with great bays, a huge lagoon, lots of beaches, and some wonderful people. In fact, it's one of the most naturally beautiful islands in all of the Caribbean.

But once again, it's an island where a small minority of residents, invariably young males, have been destroying the reputation and economic opportunities for everyone else. Remarkably, the island withstood the global recession better than most, and building continues relentlessly, demonstrating a long-term faith in the future of the lovely island.

Hopefully this latest arrest will allow cruising sailors who love the island and visiting long range cruisers to be able to relax and enjoy.