St.Martin to St. Eustatius

17:28.904N 062:59.386W
1230 LT, Saturday 25 Feb 2012
 
Breakfast conference after review of weather outlook.  Decide to skip Saba for fear of being stuck there in uncomfortable position.
Depart St. Martin at 0730 as planned.  It’s breezy so set 2 reefs in main and one in the genoa.  Off we go and are able to make Statia in a single board.  Rollick along at 8 kts for most of the way.  As we close the island we have to dodge a floating pipeline streaming from a tanking mooring buoy and the next minute a rain shower comes through and creates a white-out.  Lucky it was that way around.  Surprised to discover the large oil trans-shipment facility here with tanks on top of the cliffs, a large jetty for tankers, numerous tugs at work and several large vessels awaiting loading or discharge.   A mile or so past the oil facility is Gallows Bay and the little harbour.  We pick up well laid visitor mooring buoy in calm and protected conditions and have lunch and a nap. Swim in clear water.  Later go ashore and walk around the old town of Oranjestad and dine well at the Blue Bead cafe.  Charming, peaceful place.  Only 2-3,000 people on the island and virtually no tourism.  Hiking the hills and volcano (called the Quill) is one activity.  The other is diving around the numerous wrecks and shores which are littered with artefacts from the time that the islands was a centre for trade in the Caribbean (1775-1800).
 
Sunday, 26 February
Another breakfast time decision to stay here rather than to move on to St. Kitts.  Crew relieved at this and sink into torpor for the rest of the day.  Weather is fine today but outlook is wind and waves.  One or two showers bring violent squalls through.
 
Monday, 27 Feb
Conditions outside the harbour definitely worse.  One or two yachts arrive with tales of challenging conditions.  We feel smug and snug.  Shore party in the morning for shopping and internet access.  PM spent on board, swim, read, play cards.