Ile Forchue to Gustavia, St Barts - 11th to 14th May 2008

Imagine Of Falmouth Online Log
Jon Constantine
Sun 11 May 2008 12:20

Ile Forchue to Gustavia – St Barts. 


We left the small but somewhat rolly anchorage on Ile Forchue at 10.40 for the 6 mile hop to the port of Gustavia on St Barts. The wind of course was “on the nose”.  We motored for about half an hour but then pulled out the full genoa and were able to get a reasonable angle to continue under sail.  Dropped anchor just outside the harbour at 12.20.  Clear blue water and a large turtle even came by to welcome us to St Barts.


St Barts – its full name is St Barthelemy – was discovered by Columbus during his second voyage to the Caribbean and he named this island after his brother – Bartolemeo. First populated by a few French peasants around 1685, it was ceded to Sweden in 1784 in exchange for allowing the French to have a trading base in Gothenburg.  In 1877, the French bought it back from Sweden for 80,000 francs but it has remained a free port.  We think that is a bit of a misnomer as it’s the only place we have visited so far which charges a fee to anchor outside the harbour.  The prices in the restaurants and bars was considerably higher than in the BVI or St Martin, but then St Barts is famous as a jet set island with many famous stars and celebrities making it their Caribbean hideaway.  Fortunately, we had stocked up on most things in Marigot so only needed to buy a few essentials in the supermarket.



Gustavia Fort                                                                                           Gustavia Fort Lighthouse                                



                                        Beach Bar – 25 Euros for 2 Rum cocktails – how much?!?!?!?!


When we had checked in at the port office on Monday, we were surprised to find the quay lined with marquees, the local radio station and a large stage.  We soon discovered that an important transatlantic yacht race was due to arrive in the next 12 hours. It was a 2 handed race from Cornaceau, France to St Barts (3700 mls) and there was much excitement as the “local team” without much transatlantic experience had stolen a march on the rest of the fleet with a clever tactical move and were now in with a chance of winning the race or certainly a podium position. (as it was they came in 3rd but that didn’t stop the partying).  All 26 boats were identical 35 foot Beneteau Figaros, thoroughbred racing machines.  We decided to stay to watch the first boats arriving, although the leader was expected to arrive sometime after midnight.


We were awoken at 3am to much hooting of horns, klaxons and flashing lights.  The lead boat was about to arrive. Sleep was obviously not going to be an option for the next couple of hours so we sat in the cockpit to watch the arrival.  Within about half an hour we could see a flotilla of dozens of boats surrounding a sail tacking up the channel towards us. Suddenly a flare was let off by a boat not far from us and lit up the night sky with an eerie red glow.  The flare was still burning brightly as it fell into the water not 50 yards away from us. If it had landed on our bimini, I hate to think what would have happened. (no photos of the winner as too dark)



The Winners                                                                             2nd Place



                                                                The Favourites coming in 3rd

All the next day, more Figaros arrived, some literally within minutes of each other, after 3 weeks of all-out 2 handed racing.  We knew how tired they must be from our own 2 handed crossing and we hadn’t been racing!  By the time we went ashore in the evening the quay was already lined with nearly half the fleet.  We were sure there was going to be a very big party once all the boats were in but we need to move on and we decided to leave the next morning for St Kitts.



Tired!  What me?                                                                 2 Boats battling it out to the finish ‘through the anchorage’!                



                                                                 Still more coming in….