Au Revoir St-Barth, Verwelkoming St Eustatius

We went ashore just as the sun was setting on Saturday night – continuing to be amazed at the closeness of some of the anchored yachts to each other.   Seems like we chose a good spot because no-one came anywhere near us, luckily!   Oh yes, and doesn’t Morphie look lovely in the sunset???

We wandered around Gustavia looking for a place to eat. We found a few nice menus but most restaurants were empty…. and many did not have good views either, tucked away in back streets away from the harbour area. So we decided to bite the bullet and go to a nice French restaurant where we could sit outside and look at the array of superyachts that are all anchored up stern to the boardwalk. Had a lovely meal but completely pigged out and ate too much – so after dining, we went back on board feeling really uncomfortable and stuffed. Retired early eagerly anticipating our taxi tour of St-Barth on Sunday.

Sunday morning we get up feeling a bit better – but not completely recovered – and decided to wait a little before going ashore to pick up a taxi at the ferry dock. Just as well we did as the heavens opened! So we sat tight and waited for the blue sky to return….and in the meantime we cleaned all the crusty salt off of Morphie’s stainless steel and topped up the water tanks by running the watermaker. Around 11 am – feeling much better and vowing to be kinder to our stomachs in future – we dinked into town. Now when we checked this out we were told that any day we just needed to go to the taxi rendezvous at the ferry terminal and most – but not all – do island tours for a fixed price. They all have a particularly logo on the side. Anyway….when we get there….we find a sole taxi driver who didn’t do tours… With a Gallic shrug he pointed out that it is Le Weekend – Sunday – and all the shops are shut too….but another one might be along. So we waited awhile and another one pulled in – and yes, he did do these tours – but wanted 50% more cash for doing it on a Sunday. You know what – the answer is no! Really fed up now…. Grrrr…..

Not to be deterred, we head off to see if we can hire a car for a day instead but all the rental offices were shut too… So it looks like the mysteries of St-Barth will remain that way. But we did go for a trek up the mountainous hillside to Fort Gustave which overlooks the harbour and the surrounding anchorages – and then a bit further up the road to the gap in the hills which is where all the light aircraft drop out of the sky to land onto the runway below. Quite dramatic stuff, particularly when you are sitting in the anchorage and they abort the landing because they are not quite lined up correctly. So we hang around for awhile but no landings – obviously plane schedules are also linked to Le Weekend! – although we did see one take off that looked to have a fair degree of difficulty too.

After a breather we wandered back down the hill in the blazing heat trying to avoid getting run over by the mad motorists who seem to take pleasure in making me squirm as they come really really close. Back into Gustavia and we took some time taking in many of the sights of the old buildings reflecting the mixed heritage of this island which has, in its day, been fought over by the British, French and the Spanish. It was also given to the Swedes by France in 1784 and sold back to France in 1878. There are also stories that pirate treasure from Mountbars the Exterminator remains buried here…… This could have been his anchor maybe?

In the end we decided to follow the signs to the plage and came across Shell Beach, which is a pretty sand beach surrounded by dramatic rock formations. Obviously a hip and trendy sort of place – so we decided to settle into a quiet corner at the beachside restaurant / bar Do Brazil – and did some serious people watching. The funniest bit was the model that would come strolling through the restaurant every 15 minutes or so wearing a different outfit from the boutique. Actually some of the beach cover-ups were really nice so I decided to take a wander in and have a look – with credit card wobbling in anticipation. As soon as I walked in I realised that this wasn’t going to be an option as it was very high end and I really didn’t think that I could justify to Richard spending upwards of €200 on a beach wrap! Oh well….it was a nice thought while it lasted. We really enjoyed ourselves people watching and after a few lazy hours we headed back to the harbour to pick up dink and get back on board Morphie for a quiet night.

Overall we enjoyed seeing St-Barth but wasn’t a place we’d rush back to – not really interested in designer labels and top top end designer jewellery. It is really picturesque though with its pretty harbour, lovely beaches, huge boats and some amazing real estate perched into the hills.  All the restaurants were nice looking and had great, albeit expensive, menus. But everywhere – apart from Do Brazil which had a nice vibe – was really really quiet and it makes you wonder how they can afford to keep all these places open with the lack of customers. We only saw the yellow submarine take out one set of day trippers in the three days we’ve been here. Oh yes, did I tell you that when we went past the submarine one day and the skipper was on board we sang out loud “We all live in a yellow submarine…..”  Made us laugh and he did wave – although I wonder how many times he’s heard that eh?!?    According to the guide books St-Barth is apparently like St Tropez although I’ve never been! It could be that the place has a different feel on cruise ship days?? Oh well – nice to see and glad we did take the time to get here – but really not for us so time to move on and leave the Renaissance Islands.

Up early on Monday and we were picking up our anchor about 7.30 ish…. But before we went we had to take a photo of the 43.4m long black-hulled J boat – sail number H1 – which anchored behind us last night – gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous…. This one’s for you Flo!

Motored out of the channel and hoisted the sails for the beam reach down to St Eustatius – a Dutch island this time – and commonly known as Statia. We are missing out Saba as the anchorage is poor and unless you are into mountain trekking there isn’t a lot there… Anyway these islands are known as The Islands that Brush the Clouds. As you sail towards them you see why! We had a fantastic sail – the type that dreams are made of. Lightish winds which picked up to a steady 13 knots and from the right direction; relatively flat seas and no swells; brilliant navy blue sea reflecting its depth of a mile+; and the occasional flying fish parade skimming across the top. What a joy and the best day so far. We covered the 30 miles easily and entered Oranje Baii – the only anchorage on this small island which has a volcano perched at one end – and checked into the Dutch customs and immigration – and headed ashore.

Statia is largely a marine park – although, bizarrely, it also has a large oil terminal where they store and distribute fuel and has some weird contraption of metal in the sea which has long floating pipes coming away from it, definitely a navigational hazard! Anyway….this place is supposed to have really good dive sites. So we’ve booked to go on Tuesday morning for a double tanker. We’re really looking forward to making bubbles again!

Bye for now