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We got a good start in the morning and the waves between St. Martin and St. Barths had grown overnight; making all of us happy that we'd done the big crossing the night before. We arrived just in time to catch the 09:30 bridge opening and the best anchoring spot, just off Palapa Marina, was open and we grabbed it. After we were tethered to the ground I showered and shaved and made myself presentable and took the two of them with me to the immigration office. Normally just the skipper should perform the paperwork but since I was not only clearing in but also taking them off the crew list I wanted to make sure that they were there in order to answer any possible questions.
Both Wanita and Shaun are South African citizens, and this is a difficult passport to have as most of the world requires visas for entry. Shaun had transited Canada on his way here, and needed not only the Caribbean visa for St. Martin but also a Canadian transit visa. Wanita had flown in directly from South Africa and had been told by the embassy that they would not issue her a Caribbean visa since she had a U.S. "B1-B2" visa (which is rather difficult to get) and that would suffice. They also issued a letter, along with reference to the appropriate paragraphs from the law, confirming this.
But the officials at the immigration office saw this differently. After waiting for a supervisor to arrive and make a decision we were told that while both myself and Shaun could remain, Wanita would need to fly out immediately as she was denied entry. We weren't going to split up the group and while I really didn't want to sail back to Antigua or St. Kitts & Nevis (both countries where no visa was required for them) there didn't seem to be much choice. We'd already waited over 3 hours so I asked if we could have some time to decide what to do and if we could go across the bridge to the St. Martin Yacht Club for lunch. We were give 45 minutes and when there I spoke with the Heineken Regatta organizers and the club treasurer, "Dr." Soc. It seems that just that day the government had decided to change the immigration rules and had turned away a number of cruise ship crew arriving at the airport as well. I had to tell them that I'd be leaving and couldn't do my volunteer duties and they all got on the phone and were speaking with the ministers of Justice and Tourism within minutes and it looked like a decision to reverse these (arbitrary) changes was pending.
We returned and continued waiting. The 16:00 bridge opening is the last outbound one of the day and we missed that; which I thought might be a good sign until we were told at 17:00 that Wanita had been denied entry and we needed to leave immediately! It took a bit of talking to avoid having Wanita spend the night in a holding cell; but on my own cognizance she would be allowed to stay aboard until the first outbound bridge at 08:30. What a mess, particularly as we'd gone to great lengths to ensure compliance with any regulations and Sint Maarten just ignored it!
Since we hadn't done any provisioning, dinner was a mix of some canned items mixed together to make a pasta sauce to accompany my remaining spaghetti.