Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Latitude 16o 10’ N
Longitude 61o 47’ W
Wednesday April 27th we weighed anchor shortly after breakfast and departed Guadeloupe, headed for Saint Barts. Given the distance of over 120 nautical miles, this would be another overnight sail. A schedule of four-hour watches was set. Kay and Denise would share the first night watch from 7 to 11 PM, to be relieved by me from 11 PM to 3 AM, followed by Burke from 3 to 7 AM. As darkness began to fall, we sailed past the coast of the volcanic island of Monserrat. It stood intimidating in the half light as smoke visibly streamed from fissures in the mountain’s side, creating grey clouds that hung menacingly over the island.
It took over an hour to sail past the island and then, taking a last look back at Monserrat, Burke and I went below to get some sleep in preparation for our late-night watches, leaving Kay and Denise in charge. By 7 AM the next morning, they were back on watch and called out that we were fast approaching the rocky shore of St. Barts. Half a mile from shore we started the engine, furled the Genoa, dropped the main sail, and turned towards the Isle des Saints and the entrance to Gustavia harbor.
We couldn’t see the harbor itself, but looking ahead made it clear that we were no longer isolated from the bustle of civilization. Over a hundred yachts of various types and sizes were stationed outside the harbor entrance. Rather than join the crowd, we headed for a small cove behind the high peninsula that defines the south side of the harbor. The cove was nestled between high hills with a gently sloping sandy beach laying in between. Only two catamarans were sitting at anchors and we motored up next to them, making sure to leave ample room to swing clear, and dropped anchored in 30 feet of clear water.
Putting on a mask I jumped in the water and swam over the anchor to confirm that it was well set. Returning to the boat, it was once again time to launch the Zodiac and for the captain to row ashore to Customs & Immigration, this time with Kay along for support.
As it turned out we didn’t need to rely on our French. The walk over to Customs/Immigration Office was straightforward and pleasant. The Zodiac surfed unto the sandy beach and Kay and I got out and walked through the sun bathers, left past the children playing at school, and down the street and then around the waterfront of the harbor, passing restaurants and high-end shopping stores along the way. Once again we had to provide extensive details on the boat, our itinerary, and the crew, but the officers in the Customs/Integration Office in Gustavia spoke excellent English and were knowledgeable and very friendly in answering our questions. As in Guadeloupe they provided computers stations for entering our data (with English keyboards no less). We felt welcomed in St. Barts. (This ended up being in stark contrast to the check-in procedures we would later experience in Sint Maarden.)
Consistent with our delivery-like schedule, we would unfortunately only spend a full day in St. Barts, but that was enough to create a positive impression. Swimming off the boat, picturesque cafes, pastry shops along the waterfront, and an excellent dinner at Le Repaire. Glad to have stopped by.