St. Martin, St. Barthelemy (St. Barts)

Saba, Statia, St. Maarten, and

St. Kitts: February 20-March 11, 2009


Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

Visit of Friends from Norway

Good friends Lars Helge and Tove flew in from Norway to the airport in St. Maarten on Feb. 20th and joined us for a two-week visit aboard Tusen Takk II.   It was blowing stink when they arrived, so we were in the Lagoon -- on the French side, since all fees are currently cheaper on that side.  The northern swells subsided enough for us to move over to Grand Case on the 24th, where we anchored and took advantage of the Tuesday night happening when the main road becomes a pedestrian avenue filled with vendors.  We stopped at our favorite outdoor eatery and had barbequed chicken, since they were (temporarily, as is turned out) out of ribs.  The next day we commenced a many-day circuit that would take us to Saba, Statia, St. Kitts, St. Barth, and then back to St. Martin.

We consumed much wine, ate much good food, had many good conversations, and made many good and definite plans for getting back together in the future.  Barb and I had a splendid time, and think that they did too.


In Saba one really doesn't have much choice -- one anchors or uses one of the moorings in the mooring field off "thousand steps" on the west side of the island.   Not very protected, and therefore vulnerable to uncomfortable rolling.   Don't ask me how I know.   Lars Helge and I took the dinghy around to Fort Bay and checked in, and noticed, as we were about to leave, a local in the small fishermen's harbor unloading his catch of "bugs" -- i.e. lobster.   So we bought four, and had a feast back on the boat that night.  Split them in half and grilled them on the barbee.  Yummy.   Next day we did a tour of the island w/ Wayne, a very friendly and knowledgeable guide.  But first we had a little excitement, since Barb and I managed to fumble the key for the dinghy lock on a handoff after securing the dinghy at Fort Bay.   Into the cloudy water it went.   Extra keys back at the boat, but how do we get there when we are locked to the dock?   Just then one of the divers from one of the several dive shops showed up in a dinghy.   I put on a very sad face and explained my problem, and he donned a mask and began a search for the keys.  Took him many attempts, since the keys had hidden between two rocks, but in the end he was successful.  "Can I give you a tip?", I asked.   "Of course", he replied, "And let me give you one too:  put a float on your keys."  He got the tip, and later I got the float. (By the way, Barb had been giving me the same "tip" for years.   But I had resisted, on the grounds that the floats were too bulky in my front pockets.)  One of those fancy jobs that explodes when wet and ejects a "sausage" float that looks in the pictures to be about 18" long.   I just hope I never fall in with one in my front pocket.   (Until I do, I don't look like a guy with a sock in his jock.)

$70 (US) worth of Saba lobster


Boy those shells are tough!

Diving for lost keys

Windwardside village

Catholic church in village of The Bottom, which isn't

Mural in the church

The airport strip -- world's shortest commercial runway

Land lizard

Big woodpeckers in Saba?

And evil witches?

Sign on glassblower's shop

The schools for the island

Memorial for the man who built the road on Saba after Holland said it couldn't be done


On Feb. 27th we moved on down to Statia, more formally known as St. Eustatius.   There are moorings there, but Henk (Zeevonk) in Saba had told us about a mooring that had broken loose with a boat attached, so we opted to anchor.   It was rolly there too, and in desperation we used a long line and swung our stern around into the rollers by attaching to a buoy.  Unconventional, perhaps, but fairly effective.    Walked in to town and had lunch and then toured the restored fort and surroundings.   Came away much impressed with Statia -- it looks like it would be a very interesting place for scuba divers to come and spend a vacation.   And the nearby volcanic mountain would provide a challenging hike.

Tying the stern to a buoy

St. Kitts

And then on to St. Kitts, which used to be an informal name only, with St. Christopher the real name.   But they changed the official name to the much more popular St. Kitts.   Lotsa cruise ships at the capital (Basseterre), and a very rolly anchorage.   But we had to stop there to check in w/ customs and immigration.   By this time our guests had tired of rolling, so after checking in, lunch, and a quick tour of the island w/ Henry, we moved just before dark over to White House Bay, where we found blissful quiet.   But big things are afoot for the area:  White House Bay and Ballast Bay and the salt lake and all adjoining land have been purchased by a developer, who has named the whole area "Christophe Bay".  There will be a marina in Ballast Bay, and expensive homes in the hills, and a golf course, and fancy shopping on an island that is to be created in the middle of the salt pond.  Sad.  We liked it quiet and unspoiled.  The upside is that the developer has put in a dinghy dock and a trash receptacle, which is great for us.  One of the employees for the developer told us it was their way of giving something back to the island, and of course, the cruisers.

But I did get some personal good news.   I ran two days in a row here, and had no problem with my left knee.  Faithful readers will recall that the knee went lame while I was in Puerto la Cruz.  I have not run in about 4 months, and the knee miraculously healed in that time.   (Well, maybe it wasn't a miracle.   Maybe it was the lack of running and the double doses of glucosamine and, um, the daily doses of rum punches.   But it seems like a miracle, because I really had sadly resigned myself to not being able to run ever again.   But now, I can get to work on getting rid of the paunch that seems to have not-so-miraculously appeared.)

Lunch at Ballahoo Restaurant, overlooking the miniature Picadilly Circus in downtown Basseterre

Our guide stops at the vegetable farm of one of his many brothers to get some peppers

The brother raises for local grocery stores, among other things, pineapples

But to raise vegetables one must guard against pests

Ancient "saman" tree at Romney Manor

Caribelle Batik building in Romney Manor

Palm fruit at Romney Manor

We were too late -- the batik was closed - but not too late to relax on the Romney Manor grounds

One of the thousands of sights in Romney Manor

The grounds of Romney Manor are beautiful

"Traveler's Palm" -- named for its ability to catch and hold water at its base

Several of our party pose in front of the volcanic rock shoreline of "Black Rock"

Black Rock -- an area of volcanic lava rock that has become a minor tourist stop. Note the fisherman.

Some of the small dwellings created to vend to the tourists

A closer look at Black Rock Pub

Lars Helge tries on a rasta hat

Painted onto the side of a car owned by one of the Black Rock vendors

Billy goat with a large harem of nanny goats (not shown)

Rawlins Plantation

Sugar cane press now used as an ornament

Rawlins grounds are beautiful and filled w/ large and small sights

Art gallery of Kate Spenser -- WOW -- If we only a.) were millionaires, and b.) had unlimited space: she is good!

Old dutch windmill turned into a villa at Rawlins

Our guide Henry cleans a coconut for our consumption

Henry takes us for a walk on Ottley Plantation...

... where as dusk falls we find some of the many "green" monkeys on the island

When we moved down to White House Bay we found quiet waters and a place to walk/run -- the news is that my knee seems healed: I can run again!


St. Barts

The anchorage outside of Gustavia at Anse du Corossol was rolly.   We stayed there long enough to see a little of Gustavia, and then moved to Anse de Columbier, where we found much quieter waters and a nice beach for some relaxing and swimming. While there, we observed an old French couple (so said their flag) on an old French boat (so said the rust and grime running down the hull) take their dog to shore multiple times.  When we realized their protocol, we documented it digitally.   See below.

Underway between islands...

...and explaining our path/destination

This dog is taken to shore and left to swim back to the boat...

...where he/she climbs the ladder back into the home vessel

...and then gives himself/herself a good shake!


St. Martin

While in St. Martin we attended the St. Martin carnival parade.   More like the Nassau Carnival than the Trinidad Carnival, but smaller than either.   But it was still fun and interesting.   Of course, it started much later (two hours) than what everyone we talked to said it would, but Barb and I have become accustomed to such exigencies, even if our Norwegian guests have not.   (The only problem was that we timed our arrival to the earliest time mentioned, just in case it was correct.  Yah, right.)  

We had enjoyed our lobsters so much at the buffet dinner at Claude's Mini Club in St. Martin, on the night after our friend's arrival, and later much more in Saba, that Lars Helge and I went on a lobster crusade and found live lobsters for sale in the bridge channel on the French side.   Much more expensive than in Saba, but equally delicious, and a fitting way to spend the last night of the visit of our good friends from Norway.   We look forward to being with them again soon.

Lobsters for the last night w/ our Tove & Lars Helge



Pictures taken en route or at various locations:

Yes, we occasionally did the dishes

Messing w/ the at-anchor flipper-flopper (better known as the flopper stopper)

Relaxing at anchor in Orient Beach, St. Martin

Lunch at the Blue Bitch restaurant in...

...the beach front in Philipsburg, St. Martin