Sunday, 30 March 2014

St Barths, the fast and the slow

24th March Sunday (arrival)
17 55 N 62 55W St Barts, or St Barths, Anse de Colombier

After a very rolly night at anchor outside Simpson Bay St Maarten we departed for St Barts, The sailing went well under full sail with winds in the teens, most of the trip was under sail but as the wind was pretty much on the nose again so we had to resort to the iron horse for the last stage into the anchorage.
Us about leave through the bridge at Simpson bay 

At Anse de Colombier a smashing spot 
When we arrived the place was buzzing, families having fun on the beach and lots of day boats, this anchorage is pretty big with free mooring balls but they were all taken so we anchored. This bay is only accessed by boat or a one mile walk over the hills, its pretty craggy but when we walked up there the views are lovely. 

Anse de Colombier was once owned by the Rockefeller family and the house and summerhouse overlooks the bay. 
We dinged to the beach, climbed up the path then walked to the gates but that was as far as its allowed. Such a shame the house is abandoned it could have been made into an attraction mind you folks would have had to hike there first.

The vegetation around the bay is mainly just scrub with cactus and some spider lilies, we did see one lonely cotton plant which had one yellow flower. There were a few "mother in law cushion's " well thats the local name.

We heard and saw  the "Cabris" small goats in the hills, how they scramble about in that hill and terrain they must have very good feet

The bay is a Marine national park so no fishing allowed or watersports great no jetski's, just diving, swimming and snorkelling, we snorkelled along the rocks in a few places, one side has colour with soft coral and ferns the other mainly rocks, the bonus is the seagrass is providing food for the turtles, and yes they are all around us. We did see a small one under us while we snorkelled. There are green turtle here which are classed as endangered species, also leatherback and the smaller ones are nested turtles. We did see a few stingrays, parrotfish and lots of reef fish all kinds, I was surprised to see so many big angelfish. When we returned to the boat after being on the reef there was what looked like a baby shark or a large tarpon, probably about 4 - 5ft long.

The Slow:
Photos of turtles at last they usually appear when the camera is out of reach and don't stay on the surface for long. Trying to get a picture even with a long lens when the boat is rocking can be tricky when the turtles are quite a way away. Well I'm happy with the photos anyway.

Wow, not sure where to start, the Carib Indians were here when Christopher Columbus came here. Malta had its commander here from 1648. the Swedes, Spanish. 
Since july 15th 2007 its a commune of Guadalupe.
The Swedes have left behind some of their traditions. We went to the Wall museum which had artefacts from various centuries. Unfortunately the descriptions are in French so we ended up with a small guide in English with a few descriptions but it didn't cover everything.

A nice cool glass of wine
The following day as some boats left we did pick up a ball and had a peaceful few nights. To check in its a long dinghy ride into Gustavia and can be a little wet. However we did see some "sights"

The Fast
Gustavia is very busy with cruising, pleasure boats and at the moment sailing superyachts, ready for the "bucket" an annual 4 day race, some of these beasts are 200 ft  long. These yachts are some of the largest most prestigious in the world. The crews were busy removing all sorts to cut down the weight so they can sail faster, I'm sure I saw some removing a whole section of very heavy floor, it took at least 6 men taking it off the boat, I hope someone doesn't fall down any holes. The normal crews have to leave so the racing crew can come in.
From the anchorage we can see all the racing go by albeit about half a mile from here. So most photos are taken with the telephoto lens, not an easy thing to do on a rocking boat.

Ok I'm finishing this part with photos taken while we were leaving St Barths, which coincided with the race, it was not intentional but we ended up dodging these guys, we didn't hear anyone telling us off so I guess we didn't do any harm.

After checking in with the DIY pc system and paying our fees we wandered around the town, its flat to walk and small streets lined with over 200 designer shops ready for the rich and famous and believe me they do come here. Ok this may be a tax free place but all the big names are way out of our league.  

Our AIS showing the "boys" going back into Gustavia, not the time to go in with our boat
Cotton plant flower

complete with bug

These are soooo big

The main street

Love this Mini

The tail enders
Its a shame we can't see more of the island, the only way is by taxi at 30$ and hour or to hire a car or scooter, neither are of use where we are at anchor. No busses either.

When we visit the French run islands it would be good to have learned some French, everyone here greets you in French but most do speak English, maybe something for the future. 

close quarters

Nice bit of shade

Typical shingle and design 

Night night

Love the colours


The winner

Gustavia has so many restaurants and we were surprised that some of the prices were very reasonable. 
As for provisions the supermarket is in the port and it looks well stocked with fresh goods and some very good wine, not that we are looking to buy any, I did find some very nice pate and ham.

We had only planned to stay 2 or 3 days but due to the storms in the North have changed our departure so its now looking like we may leave today (Sunday) for Antigua. Yet again another overnighter to take advantage of the wind out there, and its blowing from the south east where we are going too Antigua, we are determined we will sail.

Agua Therapy

Don and Glenys Graham