Thursday, March 26, 2015

Saint Barths

One of the best parts of traveling for a number of years in the Caribbean is the opportunity to experience islands affiliated with rich and diverse histories.  Most islands have ties to England, France, the Netherlands, Spain, or the US.  Some, like Saint-Barthelemy, have Scandinavian roots and many have changed hands several times through the course of history.

The "Scooter Gang"
After sailing these waters for over 550 days now, we’ve discovered that certain characteristics associated with the various islands have much to do with the history of colonization and their relationship to the slave trade of the 1700 and 1800’s.  St. Barth’s never participated in the slave trade or developed sugar plantations so their economy grew based on salt trade and now tourism. Discovered by Columbus in 1493 and named after his brother Bartolomeo, St. Barth’s was settled by the French in the mid-17th century, became Swedish in 1784 and was returned to France in 1878. It is the only Caribbean island with a Swedish heritage.  The street signs are written in both French and Swedish.

Worlds most dangerous airport
Gustavia is a charming port lined with red roofs, filled with yachts, and a playground for the rich.  The yachts that congregate here are more than impressive and come in sizes large and XXXL. Atalanta is dinghy-sized in comparison to many anchored near her.   Le Carre’Or is the Worth Avenue or Rodeo Drive of St. Barth’s where window-shopping is the only affordable thing unless Chanel, Hermes, Yves St. Laurent, Jimmy Choo, etc. are included in your budget.  The official 
currency is the Euro and even with the reasonable exchange rate at this time, we always check the price. We were told that even the very wealthy clientele that visit St. Barth’s say, “It’s too expensive.”
We rented scooters – an ideal way to experience the island.  It is spectacularly beautiful and very hilly so each bend in the road offers a new breathtaking vista of the picturesque coastline.  We traveled St. Barth’s roads with Ann-Sofie and Jonas from Lady Annila and fortunately we found a lovely stop, Restaurant L’Espirit, near Anse de Grand Saline for liquid refreshments just across from salt ponds that remained active until the 1970s and now provide a haven for migrating birds.  We visited an immaculately maintained French cemetery where each grave is whitewashed and covered in brightly colored plastic flowers.  On All Soul’s Day a candlelit procession is the focus of the festivities.
We are anchored in Anse du Grand Colombier, a beautiful cove on the northern tip of St. Barth’s, with Lady Annila and Argosea. The water is turquoise blue, crystal clear and two turtles formed a welcoming committee upon our arrival. The bay has been a part of St. Barth’s Marine Reserve since 1996 offering protection from anchoring, spearfishing, jetskis, etc. so snorkeling is on our agenda.

After a week or so in St. Barth’s we plan to take the 18-mile hop to St. Martin, a divided island where one half is French (Saint Martin) and the other Dutch (Sint Maarten). One of St. Martin’s claims to fame is a collection of the most extensive yacht services north of Trinidad and is the last place to put in for repairs before Puerto Rico.  Fortunately, Atalanta is in good shape and most systems are working well although we might have an electrical issue looked at if we can find the right person for the job.

Thanks for following our travels.

Richard and Kay

Kay's next ride

Don't we look "hot" in our helmets


  1. Really enjoyed this post on St. Barths! Blue skies, you two, and keep us informed!

  2. Looks fun! Once guests have left at end of week we turn West to Los Roques and the ABCs ...Fair Winds and fun sailing to you all J&D x