I think the guy on the end has to be bold (or have delusions of grandeur) to park his relatively small powerboat next to the giant superyachts on the dock at St Barthelemy (St Barts). It’s definitely the home of the beautiful people with mega-bucks to spend in the beautiful shops. We felt a little out of place…..!
Just our luck, but we seem to have struck a period of uncharacteristically quiet wind in the Caribbean. The steady ENE trade winds that normally blow at this time of year have stalled due to a low pressure system further north. The weather forecast teased us with a return of light wind on Thursday, so we decided to make the relatively short hop to St Barts, only 25NM away from St Martin. As per normal, any wind we had was on the nose, so we ended up motoring all the way, prompting the skipper to announce that he wasn’t going anywhere again until we had enough wind to SAIL!
St Barts has an interesting history, being the base for the infamous French pirate, “Montbars the Exterminator” in the 1600’s, then being sold to the Swedes in the 1700’s in exchange for free port rights in Gothenburg, only to be bought back by the French a hundred years later. Gustavia, the capital and main port is an attractive place, with the street names and buildings reflecting both its’ Swedish and French heritage.
We chose to anchor in the outer harbour rather than pick up a mooring in the inner harbour, which looked rather crowded and intimidating.
The anchorage was fine with good holding in sand, but quite crowded and rolly due to the swell and all the port traffic coming and going (well, the monohulls were rolling, we were joyfully stable!) I woke up the first morning to the rumbling of a large engine, only to peek out the cabin window and see the side of a large container ship sliding past only meters away!
The low pressure system also produced a trough seemingly directly overhead, so Friday it rained and rained and then rained some more, confining us to the boat where we pottered about doing interior jobs.
Saturday the skies cleared, so after stocking up on more baguettes, we made our way round the corner to a pretty little bay called Anse de Colombier , which is part of the marine reserve.
There are plenty of free park moorings, a pretty beach, and lots of turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. A solitary barracuda took up residence under the boat, and was very curious when we went snorkeling, shadowing us at a respectful distance to see what we were up to.
Our cruising guide indicated there was excellent snorkeling here, but although there were certainly plenty of different species of tropical fish, the bottom was rock rather than coral, so the scenery was a bit drab. But the water was beautifully warm and it was lovely to have a weekend of real R & R, swimming, reading, snorkeling – almost felt like we were on holiday!!
The wind continues to be light and variable with no prospect of any decent wind until Monday night, so our plan is to leave St Barts Monday evening and do an overnight sail to Guadeloupe, some 120NM away. Let’s hope the wind gods are kind to us!