St Barts

We finally left St Martin on March 14th, right as COVID-19 was starting to really worry people. Our plan was to catch the next weather window for Antigua, and ride out the inevitable island closures in a relatively big country with a pair of islands to explore. (It turned out that Barbuda was one of the first places to close its borders, so that wouldn’t have worked out even if we had made it.) So we had just a couple of days to explore St Barts. That proved to be plenty, because the anchorage and harbor at Gustavia are some of the least comfortable places we’ve ever dropped anchor. We made a pass through the shallower parts and found them super crowded, so we eventually anchored out in megayacht territory in 45 feet of water. The water was the best thing about the anchorage; it’s so clear that even at that depth we could see the bottom. But it’s super uncomfortable: the island provides very little protection so the whole anchorage is constantly rolling, even inside the port, and the megayacht tenders are constantly zooming back and forth making huge, boat-rocking wakes. Here’s Captain asking us why the boat won’t stop moving. (J/K, he wants food.)

So we did our best to spend our time on land instead. With coronavirus starting to get attention, there were already closures, and we found only one cafe open for lunch. I look haggard from all the not sleeping with the rolling.

Look, it’s real draft beer! Writing this in June, I really miss draft beer.

Kraken met up with us later in the day, and we explored the mostly-empty town for a while.

We took a walk up the hill to Fort Karl, which provided some pretty trees and a nice view down to Shell Beach. If you squint a little, you can see the Islands That Touch the Clouds across the ocean: Saba, Statia, and St Kitts. And then further to the right, a top-down view of the town and the harbor. Look how tightly the boats are packed into the inner harbor! They’re all moored fore-and-aft to prevent swinging, so they can cram in a ton of boats.

Villa is out of sight in all of these; she’s blocked by the tip of the town.

Eventually Kraken got tired of us (by which I mean they went back to their boat to eat), and we walked up the hill opposite to visit the Gustavia Lighthouse. Which turned out to be closed. But we got some nice views of the town and harbor from the other side. Jazz’s loving finger-salute is directed at all the megayachts, and especially at their tenders.

The report was that everything in St Barts would close the next day, for two weeks, and we were starting to worry about seeing the insides of restaurants for a while. So we hung out in town and killed some time before the dinner places opened. We loved the crenelations on this building..

Also there was this tiley lizard and flower.

By the time evening came around, though, Jazz’s injury was slowing her down and she was starting to struggle. So we found our restaurant of choice and basically camped out outside it until they took pity on us and brought us wine. And then they opened, let us in, and served us cocktails, and it was very much worth the wait.

By the end of the night, Jazz’s painkillers had worn off completely, and she was ready to go home but not ready to leave her nice glass of wine. The waitstaff took pity and found her a to-go cup somewhere – impressive because that’s definitely not a normal thing that they do there. We walked back to the dinghy in the dock, and stopped to rest to watch the little boats in the inner harbor jumping around. It’s strange to me, if you look at a map, with wind and swell out of the east, you’d think that this harbor would be well protected, but there’s a ton of surge all the time.

The wind wasn’t going to cooperate for another day or so, so we took the next day to relax a little, shake our fists at the megayacht tenders, and clean the bottom of the boat. I came back out of the water covered in these little tiny critters, which turn out to have a mild but unpleasant bite.

Super gross, but better gone.

We had a nice sunset for our last day in the harbor..

And then we passed out, ready to head to St Kitts in the morning.