Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 17, 2010 - Anse de Colombier, St. Barts

Thanks to all the rough weather we've had lately, the seas in the Northern Caribbean are churned up, making yesterday's sail from Antigua to St. Barts a long, rough ride. After 78 miles of getting slapped around by short steep seas, we sailed into the lee of St. Barts. As we sailed up the the coast we were shocked by how many sailboats were anchored off of Gustavia. The last time we were here, to ring in 2007, the joint was wall to wall mega yachts with a handful of sailboats mixed in. The big boys have apparently all headed back to the Med for the summer and the cruising yachts have arrived to fill the void. We couldn't help but wonder if the number of boats here had something to do with the new fees in place in Sint. Maarten.

Just as we approached Anse de Colombier, we were smacked with another squall. It was nearly dark as we turned into the bay and dropped the mainsail. All the big moorings at the mouth of the bay were filled so we prepared to anchor. As I was untying the anchor another Tayana 48 hailed us to direct us towards a mooring at the head of the bay, well protected from the swell creeping into the mouth of the bay. Sten thanked him for the tip and we motored up towards the beach to pick up the mooring (the first we've been on since we left Chagos nearly 9 months ago). The combination of close quarters, shallow water, gusty winds and lack of practice made for a very stressful experience. By the time we had Mata'irea secured to the mooring the boat hook was on the bottom and we were none too pleased with each other. But we had a constructive talk about what to do differently next time and then tucked into some leftover tikka masala. By the end of the meal we were even laughing at each other's jokes again. As soon as dinner was over we turned in. It had been an exhausting day.

This morning, I had to take a swim to get the boat hook so I figured that I might as well do a bit of snorkeling. It turned out to be a very interesting jaunt. On the sandy, grassy bottom I spotted a nurse shark, southern stingray, and several hawksbill turtles feeding. Among the rocky shoreline I came across a nice queen helmet, but the owner was still home and very much alive, so I put it back.

With the boat tucked into such a nice spot next to the beach we hated to give it up. But our friends Kate and Deb are arriving in Sint. Maarten on Thursday and we've got a bunch of chores that we need to do there before they arrive. So, mid-morning we dropped the mooring and departed on an easy (if rolly) two hour run over to Sint. Maarten.

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