Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Leeward Islands: Moving South

Having just left St. Martin for St. Barts after a three week period, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the experience.  When you settle in for a period of time, you have the opportunity to delve into the surrounds a bit and become connected to others.  St. martin is an island with a larger population and economy than most in this area and as such has developed security issues not evident in many of the small island nations of the Leeward Islands.  St. Martin is really two countries, one French and one Dutch.  We spent most of our time anchored on the French side and did much of our commerce on the Dutch.  We were told that historically, the French side was safer and more interesting, having developed with a reasonably strict set of zoning guidelines and a regulating government.  While the majority of security issues were on the Dutch side in the past, they have realized its impact on the tourism trade and cracked down.  As a result, many of those issues have migrated to the French side.  Regardless, we found the island to be beautiful.  Our time there took us to a number of different areas including Anse Marcelle, Grand Case and Oriental Bay.  It is an island rich with artists and music, food and services.  St. Martin is one of the principle islands for boat/yacht repair.  From now on, help with issues related to the operation of the boat will be more challenging.  Beyond touring the island, we had the pleasure of making new friends and acquaintances.  Some of these we will reconnect with further on down the line or when we return.

North end of St. Barts
Gustavia, St. Barts
East coast of St. Barts
St. Barts anchorage
From St. Martin, we sailed to St. Barts also know as St. Barths or St. Barthelamy.  Interestingly, this is an island that did not ever have an economy dependent on slavery.  While the population is primary French speaking, the people here consider themselves as an independent island nation.  Our motor scooter tour of the island enabled us to see a very rugged landscape with homes and businesses scattered among beautiful volcanic hills and bays.  The capital of Gustavia is a lovely and protected harbor that has developed into a very upscale shopping center for the rich and famous.  This influence on the island dominates the reputation of St. Barts and has contributed to it being seen as a playground for celebs and wanabees.  Nevertheless we found local artists and business owners that were lovely, interesting, and completely in love with their island paradise.  

After two days anchoring in a fairly rolling bay, we decided to move south-east to St. Kitts and Nevis where we are now.  We will be spending a week or so here, exploring, relaxing and getting to know yet another interesting island culture. 

Thanks for following and more to come.

Richard and Kay

Statia Island on our way to St. Kitts

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