Sailing to St Eustatius (Statia)

Take Off
Jörgen Wennberg
Thu 12 Mar 2015 00:14
Sailing from St Maarten to Statia was quite an adventure. The wind blew from the East-South East forcing us to sail head wind (wind nearly from the front), putting quite some pressure on the boat considering the wind blowing up to 20 - 25 knots (approx 12 m/sec). And who said that the sun is always shining in the West Indies? We counted up to 7 squalls!


For the kids we found a great way for them to avoid the rain and still let them sleep where they can be with us.


The first night we had dinner with Elisabet and Karl-Axel on Spray at a crazy place King’s Well, owned by an american lady Laura and her German husband Win. They love animals and the first ones we saw where 2 wild big parrots in the tree nearby the entrance. This couple settled here 30 years ago after landing here with their sailing boat. They are now in their 70s and run their hotel/restaurant as their home. We could pour our own drinks at the bar on the honour system. Only one menu to choose from and quite a few animals as company, such as 3 huge Grand Danois dogs. The biggest one called Alex ;-)!



The day after we went off for a tour of the island Statia. A nice view of Take Off from the shore. The kids having their moment of fun. Inez very proud of the glasses she received from Rebecca and Demi from Morning Haze for her birthday.


Statia is a small island with a large history. During the Golden Era in the mid to late 1700s, Statia was the trade capital of the West Indies, and one of the world’s busiest harbours. Up to 300 sailing ships lie at anchor. Goods are available here from all over the world: fine fabrics, silver, gold, household supplies, slaves, guns, sugar, tobacco and cotton. During these years, the European powers were fighting each other. However the Dutch, who owned Statia, remained neutral and opened Stat as a free port. Countries not allowed to deal with each other could deal with Statia. For example, in 1770 Statia produced about 600,000 pounds of sugar, but exported 20 million pounds. It was officially approve smuggling, and the inhabitants, some 8000 mixed Dutch, English and Jewish merchants got very rich. Statia became known as the Golden Rock. However the prosperity was not to last and the sugar mills got some competitions from bigger plantations in South America.


We started our tour with the historical museum of Statia hosting in the house in which Admiral Rodney lived during his stay. This was very interesting as well as quite removing considering the brutal history, the fights and especially the slavery. 


The Europeans settled down in the West Indies just as if they were at home in Europe. They built their houses, brought all their furniture and household supplies shipped from Europe.


They exploited the islands’ natural sources such as sugar, tobacco and cotton and exported all the goods to Europe. Below a map of the goods being exported between the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Slaves were exported from Africa to the Caribbean, tropical goods from the Caribbean to Europe and manufactured goods from Europe back to the Caribbean and to Africa.


However what really brought our attention is how the slaves were transported from Africa to the Caribbean. These people were packed like books on book shelve in the boat, lying down on a small surface during 2-3 months! In total 12 million African people were exported from Africa where of 12% did not make the journey. As they knew this they packed the boat with even more slaves as there would be more space the closer they got to the Caribbean. It is difficult to imagine the cruelty and the hygien onboard. This explains the black people living in the Caribbean, they are not native. The native people from the Caribbean are called the caribs and come originally from South America. They look like Indians. However you see very few of them and they mostly live in a Carib territory, away from tourists. Unfortunately they have been chased from the smaller islands. We have met a few of them when we were in Grenada.


The slaves’ household. The abolition of the slaves as late as 1848.


We then went to visit Fort Oranje with a marvellous view over the few boats now anchored in Orange Baai, outside Oranjestad.


We continued through the only town called Orangestad. This is a rather sleepy town and Statia showed to be quite empty on tourists. For good or for bad.



The bakery of Orangestad. We could not resist taking this photo considering all the beautiful aloe plants blooming outside!


Some rests of the harbour from the old days.


View over the Quill volcano from our boat.

Coming back to our boat we invited Elisabet and Karl-Axel for dinner. They made a great rum punch for sundowner and Jörgen made a ”Jörgen’s temptation”.



Sunset and view over Spray to the right.


The morning after Elisabet and Karl-Axel came over to say goodbye. They were off sailing South to Nevis before heading back up North again joining the other ARC boats.

Nearby the coast was the rest of the old harbour being now a very good snorkling place. The kids being now bigger in our eyes, we asked them if they wanted to watch a movie while we went off snorkling. The answer came very quick so on with a movie, closing the boat and we were off feeling somewhat guilty but wow how nice it was to have some time for ourselves ;-)! And the snorkling was excellent. Plenty of fish!


Coming back we lifted up the anchor and left for St Kitts. View over the Quill Volcano leaving South.