Saturday, May 21, 2016

Statia: eclectic, historic, European

Approach Statia
Sint Maartin to Sint Estancia/Statia:  The Captain stopped in St Maartin's customs & immigration office yesterday to confirm what time they open, so we can clear out.  When he arrives at 7:00 am the next morning, he's told that he also needs to see the harbor master, who doesn't arrive until 8:00 am.  Grrrr......Finally, after 13 days, we haul up a very "set" anchor.  As we motor out, we're greeted with very confused seas.  It's another washing machine morning.  We usually prefer to let the seas lay down for a day after a day of 15-20 like yesterday, but it's a short weather window (24 hours really).  As usual, we depart earlier than we should--the winds aren't supposed to shift around by 10:00 am.  We just.couldn't.wait.  

We try the genoa for 30 min, but it puts us farther off course than we like.  Then the winds die down to 8 kts--on the nose!  A perfect reach for St. Barts, if we had planned on going that way.

There are a few build ups but no squalls and by 2:00 pm the wind has shifted again and the genoa is unfurled. The waves calm down into normal ocean swell instead of washing machine. 

We round the corner of Statia and are greeted by several huge oil tankers anchored just offshore.  Apparently, this is a large trans-shipment port with a big oil storage depot.  Trans-shipment is defined as:  Transfer of a shipment from one carrier, or more commonly, from one vessel to another whereas in transit. Transshipments are usually made (1) where there is no direct air, land, or sea link between the consignor's and consignee's countries, (2) where the intended port of entry is blocked, or (3) to hide the identity of the port or country of origin. Because transshipment exposes the shipment to a higher probability of damage or loss, some purchase orders or letters of credit specifically prohibit it. 

Hmmmm.  As far back as the 1700's, Statia was the trade capital of the Indie's and one of the world's busiest harbours with up to 300 ships at anchor.  Apparently the Dutch neutrality is still at work.

We grab a mooring ball and immediately set up a swell bridle.  (We'll never figure out why this mooring field on the west side of the island has a roll with an east wind and swell).

Stats:  Total time 7:16, avg speed 4.9 kts, total mileage 35.8 nm.  Motor-sailed 1:00 hr.

On a mooring just off town.  The volcanic Quill, 1800 ft

We're up early.  The Captain runs over to pick up Kelly Nicole's Captain and they ride into customs together.  (They are bailing from rolly, rolly puke.  We decide to stay).
Customs $15.  Mooring $10/night or $30 for the week.  $10/person park fee to hike volcano. 

Kelly Nicole departing for St Kitts

We head in to hike Quill.  I though it was a 90 minute hike, so we time it to be back in town for lunch.  It turns out to be 40 min to the trail head, then 90 to the look out (another 20 of moderate hiking takes you to one rim, the other requires a guide).   Whew.  These sailors are out of shape.  At least downhill is easier, cardio wise.

Headed towards the trailhead

Not lost yet, but I did have to keep an eye out for trail markers!

Overlook from end of "Quill" trail

Our entertainment--crabs.  Watch your step

An unexpected twist is crab watching.  It seems NUMEROUS of these little fellows lose their balance and take a tumble down the hill.  They land in the middle of the trail, pop out, see us, and pop back in.  This turned out to be our biggest source of amusement--the biggest crab, the smallest crab, the fastest crab, the prettiest shell, the biggest crab in the smallest shell, and on, and on, and on.  (Note to self.  I need a macro lens).

The fascinating architecture of Statia.  Reminds me of a Pennsylvania Dutch farmhouse?

A typical colorful, Caribbean home

We arrive back in town and stop at the first restaurant we see open for lunch.  This was a mistake.  First of all, we're parched despite 2-32 oz bottles of sports drink and we can't seem to order a drink.  I head over to the bar where our waitress is ringing up a to-go order begging for a Presidente and ginger beer, and she shoos me back to our table (no, really.  Hand gesture and all).  She finally appears to take our order, and after an hour, I start to get antsy.  Someone has come in, eaten and left (clearly a local with a standing order), otherwise we are the only people in the restaurant.  Several people have picked up to-go orders (clearly wise to the fact to call it in EARLY!).  I'm starting to get crabby.  Finally, our food appears with a "sorry" and a quick retreat.  Um, more drinks?!  Nope.  She's gone.  (The food was excellent--curry chicken and chicken kabobs). After two hours, we make our escape.  We make another stop at the Old Gin House, to get some wifi and dessert.  

Lots of really OLD brickwork throughout town maintained by the historical society

More eclectic architecture.  A gingerbread house?

The Captain wandering through the brick streets 

I sit out in the cockpit in the morning with my coffee and I can hear the kids crying on shore (not that, wild goats!).  We head in to explore some more.  I lured The Captain in with the promise of ice cream, but they're closed, so instead we hike up the Old Slave Road to the fort (not a fair trade off, I acknowledge that).  There's a beautiful view of the bay and our boat along with the old downtown wall that is now underwater.  We head back down to "old" town and pop in a different waterfront restaurant for refreshments, but the two people sitting at the bar don't have drinks and the bartender bolts when we walk in.  We're getting used to the laid-back style of dining in the Caribbean, but customer service isn't a strong point of this little town.  You have to bring us food & drink in exchange for money.  Back to the Old Gin House.

Dutch-style farm door?  Old, old brick wall 

More OLD brickwork

View of the mooring field from the fort

The Captain taking the Old Slave Road from "upper new" town back down to "old beach" town

The Old Gin House has a (volcanic) black sand beach complete with a hammock overlook Odin

This ancient dock was my muse.  Still trying to get the perfect photo

Departing, we'll pass several dive moorings and get a look back at the massive limestone "White Wall" on the south end of the island.  There is supposed to be excellent scuba diving in this area (with guides only).

1 comment:

  1. We loved Statia. Charming and off the beaten track. Swell bridle absolutely saved our sanity there.