Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Barth!

We left St. Martin this morning after a rolly night on anchor in Anse Marcel. The cove where the Radisson is located is almost unbearable, because the island's landfill on the far northern side of the adjoining mountain range caught fire and has been smoldering for the last couple of days. The smoke has made its way into the sheltered area around the marina basin and resort, so it smells of nasty gritty smoke. (Not that I would know, although Ron has been very unhappy with the smokey smell!) So, we decided to head out and find fresher air outside in the anchorage. Definitely better smelling, but much less protected.
St. Barth's in the distance as we head out from St. Martin
 We pulled anchor this morning at 0700 and pulled into the outside anchorage at Gustavia, St. Barthelemy at 0930. Of course, tt’s Sunday, so most stores -- practically everything -- was closed when when went in to the port capitainerie to clear in. Ron was surprised by the cost though…we thought the prices listed in the cruising guide were for the 3-month/typical 90-day cruising permit, but here…it’s by the day! And, for some reason, they don’t go by length here, but instead they determine the fees by meters squared (length times beam) times .5 euro or some such equation. Ouch!! It came out to $34 a day for a boat our size -- which means no real extended stay here for a month or two! Darn!

In any event, I’m totally excited to be here…it’s quite quaint and, like so many of the islands, has a convoluted history of European settlement: it was discovered by Columbus in 1493 and named after his brother Bartolomeo, and settled by French settlers from St. Kitt's. It was taken over by the British in 1758 and held briefly. It's also the only Caribbean island owned by the Swedes -- the British gave it to the Swedes in exchange for trade rights in Gothenberg in 1784. Swedish influences are still seen to this day, in many street names as well as the town of Gustavia itself, named in honor of King Gustav III. Finally, in 1878, Sweden sold it back to the French. Today, most of the inhabitants are of Breton or Normandy descent. It’s also known that on occasion, celebrities come here, but … rather doubt that we’ll see any big name folks! 
Some of the historic buildings around the harbor (closed on Sunday!)
Gustavia's clock tower on the hillside
Right now, the harbor is packed tight with lots of big yachts boats stern-to, med-moor style, all seemingly in danger of rolling against each other. The larger mega-yachts (like Roman Abramovich's 538' Eclipse) can't fit in Gustavia's small harbor, so they're out on anchor in the outside bay. (Ok, his Eclipse is definitely bigger than our Eclipse!!) We’re on anchor ourselves, out by Pointe Du Precipe on the north side of the shipping channel, so we get a great view of Saba and Statia to our south, as well as the houses on the island's steep mountainside above the anchorage. We’re actually right on approach to the St. Bart’s airstrip…Twin Otters and small engine craft line up on final right over the boat, heading through a gap in the hills to make their landings. Fun to watch, and bet it’d be even more fun to be aboard!  
Just a few of the yachts in Gustavia's inner harbor
Eclipse on the far left, Equinox three boats to the right...
Tonight was a quiet dinner aboard (roast beef and vegetables) on the back deck with a good bottle of wine, with Jimmy Buffet playing in the  background! Ah...a new port, we love it! What's not to like? 

1 comment:

  1. Listening to Jimmy Buffett while anchored off St. Barths. wow. You know he's been known to show up on that island quite a bit.



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