Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sint Eustatius!

A dismal rainy day – somewhat unusual in the islands, I think, since most rain comes in short showers rather than all-day-long affairs. We each managed to work out on the bike trainer in the early a.m. before the rains started in earnest though! Happily, we took advantage of a short break in the rain and raced into Gustavia’s Port Authority to clear out of St. Barth’s. 

We barely scratched the surface here, only seeing the town of Gustavia, but we didn’t rent a car so really didn’t get a good look at the rest of the island. Maybe next time! We did manage to find the small ship chandlery, Le Shipchandler, since we needed a courtesy flag for the Netherland Antilles, with St. Eustatius being our next port. We also stocked up on more cheese, baguettes and vegetables at the food market nearby. (It was another vain search in the milk/cream aisle for the elusive half-and-half, by the way!) We didn’t mind though, as we have some milk that will suffice -- just one more way to remind us that shopping in the islands is always an adventure!
Approaching Sint Eustatius 
From St. Barth's, we cruised slowly at 7+ knots over to St. Eustatius, or Statia, as it’s simply known, enjoying the improving weather as the sun came out. The rainy weather moved off over the open seas, so we put out a couple of fishing lines, and were rewarded with a nice blackfin tuna for our efforts! Yum!! Fresh fish for dinner tonight! It’s been a while since we’ve caught anything, since the last few passages we’ve made have been at night, so that was a treat!
Statia, with its dormant volcano, "The Quill" rising above 
Going slowly, it was a good 3½ hour cruise to cover the 24 miles from St. Barth’s to Statia. We arrived in the late afternoon, fittingly, in brilliant golden sunshine as we cleared in on “The Golden Rock”. Statia is one of the five volcanic Caribbean islands “that brush the clouds”, steeply-sided, mountainous islands that rise sharply out of the ocean until their peaks touch the clouds. Statia is the lowest, at 2000’, but its 12 square miles are gorgeous, lush and green, although the beaches are fairly rocky for the most part. Some of Statia’s best features are underwater, as the diving is first-class and quite varied. There is a LOT of history here, too! From the anchorage, you can see the old stone ruins of Lower Town along the shoreline.

Ruins of the old wharves and warehouses on the beach
A closer look at the stone ruins
Once we cleared in, we immediately walked along the length of Oranje Baai road. As I said, all along the shoreline are  the remains of the shipping warehouses that made Statia the center of commerce in the Caribbean during the 1700s. Most were built from ballast stones of all the ships that came and traded goods here. The island hasn’t changed much since our last visit back in August of 2002, when took a dive vacation here. We stayed at the Old Gin House and dove with Golden Rock Divers, run by Glenn and Michele Faires. It’s so nice to be back here!

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