Sailing towards the island of St Eustatius ("Statia" to the locals) we were
joined by a group of dolphins swimming at the bow. They did the usual
showing off - leaping and jostling for position, squeaking to each other.
Dolphins taken from the bow, directly
The water here is beautifully clear - we can clearly see the sea bed
beneath our boat, even though we are moored in 4.5 metres of water. Small
shells on the bottom are visible from the boat. It is a popular place for
diving and we can see why. Not only is the water clear, but there are many
wrecks. Statia was the trade capital of the Caribbean in the 18th century
- being Dutch it was neutral and there were no taxes imposed on sales. It
is said that there would have been between 100 and 200 sailing ships at
anchor in the bay here, at that time, and there were also brick docks built
along the sea wall which are now in ruins.
The architecture looks to us to have a Dutch influence, with lots of
colourful painted shutters, and they use the Antilles Florin for
currency. We didn't know about this, and had assumed that the Eastern
Caribbean Dollar would be the local money. It was only after we have
ordered our drinks in a local bar (and swigged some of it thirstily down) that
we found we couldn't pay for them. In typical Statia style, we were
pointed in the direction of the local cash machine and they were quite happy for
us to come back later and pay.
The island is still a tax free shopping area, so we took advantage and
stocked up on beer. The local supermarket stocked Amstel as well as
Heineken and the local brews. There was plenty of Gouda and Edam for
sale. However, a man came into the shop and asked for a "big sausage"
in a heavy Dutch accent. The check-out lady barely contained her giggles
and told him they did not have any at present.
Today we walked up to the rim of the volcano, which took a couple of hours
and is around 2000 feet above sea level. We were warned of killer bees that
had killed a dog the previous week and had badly stung its owner. The first part
of the walk was through the town, Oranjestad, and then through a path lined with
high flowering bushes on either side, (with lots of bees!)
The view from the top of the volcano, looking in to the crater, was
We heard a rockfall while we were at the top, but decided to continue down
into the crater. We ate our picnic under a large banyan tree which
had an amazing double trunk. Above we could hear the continuous droaning noise
of swarming bees, which made our lunch not so relaxing!
We saw many snakes, lizards, butterflies and feral chickens. It
seemed strange to be in deepest woodland and have chickens squalking
We thought Statia a lovely island. All the locals are friendly -
everyone you pass says hello and waves from their cars. The hiking is
great, there are plenty of nature trails and lots of bars to recover in
afterwards. The only slight detraction is the anchorage, which we have
found very rolly. We have put out a stern anchor to face the boat into the
swell, but are still moving around a lot. Anyhow, we
will leave tomorrow morning to sail to the British Virgin
Islands. The original plan was to go to Saba, however we are told that it
is the place to visit only in flat calm weather, as it is even more rolly
than Statia and landing there can be difficult. So we will sail
past Saba tomorrow and hopefully get to visit upon our return south after a
couple of weeks in the BVIs.