Glamorous St. Barths - 21- 25 March 2011
Just as we had cleared the hazards of Barbuda, we saw a number of hump back whales breaching out of the water; a privilege and an amazing sight. Even more reason for Barbuda not to let the Japanese have whaling rights!
Humpback whale tale
Making landfall at St Barths
Anyway we had a lively sail to St Barths and en route the kicker shackle decided to brake. Michael, of course, had another shackle in all the spares we carry, so after a quick replacement job we were back on track to Gustavia the main harbour in St Barths.
St Barths was yet another islands discovered by Columbus in 1493 and named it after his brother Bartholomeo. The island was given to the Swedish King Gustaff in 1784 and there are still many reminders of the Swedish rule, such as the name Gustavia and several Swedish style buildings and forts on the island. It was sold back to France in 1878, after declining trade and disease. In the 1950’s tourists slowly started arriving at the tiny airport on small planes and private jets, but laws limiting mass tourism were introduced, so there are no high rise hotels or fast food chains. St Barths is famous for being the ridiculously expensive playground for the rich and famous and after we checked in and paid our dues for anchoring in the harbour (10 euros a day!), we walked around around this duty free port, which was filled with luxury brand and glamorous designer boutiques.
Michael checking in at the Capitainerie, round building on right
A definite European feel with the brick architecture
Main street in Gustavia
The slightly ‘bottle shaped’ lighthouse
Having had a sore throat over the previous few days, I was feeling rather under the weather by the time we arrived in St. Barths. I ended up with having flu type symptoms and spent the next few days recovering on Nimue. Michael had to keep himself amused for a few days, so he snorkelled under Nimue to replace the propeller anode, which had corroded and dropped off. He even managed to arrange a visit to the dentist after biting into a chocolate bar in which his gold crown fell off! We were expecting a hefty bill, but as it turned out the local dentist stuck it back on for 50 euros.
We didn’t manage to get to see many of the sights of Gustavia, but as it happened we were there at the same time as the highly famed annual Bucket Regatta event was being held. This is an invitational 3 day race event is open to sailing yachts of 100’ plus. We had a great viewing point on Nimue, as we could see all the yachts parading out of the harbour with everyone in matching attire and then watched these magnificent yachts racing. For those interested, the largest super yacht in the world, Maltese Falcon was taking part, so I at last managed to see how the hydraulic masts worked. Quite impressive, but not the prettiest boat around.
The following photos are of some of the yachts taking part in The Bucket Regatta
‘J’ Class Yacht
The next series of photos are of the Maltese Falcon and they reckon that one person can sail her as all the sails are moved by computer and hydraulics. Quite an amazing sight to see the sails being lifted and turned.
Sails coming out of the mast in individual sections
Sails fully out
Coming out from behind the rocks
On the mend we decided to eat at Le Select, the first, and for a long time the only bar-restaurant in Gustavia, opened more than 60 years ago. History has it that this open-air restaurant inspired “Cheeseburger in Paradise” for Jimmy Buffett. Although the burgers were cheap, they were not the best we’d ever eaten.
Le Select ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ Bar (above & below)
St Barts is quite different from any other Caribbean island we have visited and The Lonely Planet guide describes it perfectly “despite the island’s location, the atmosphere of St Barths is much more that of a quiet seaside province in France than a jammin’ Caribbean colony.”