Wednesday 13 March 2013

St Barths

We motor into the anchorage outside the capital of Gustavia and weave our way through fifty yachts bobbing in the swell. We continue into the port, picture perfect, red-roofed white buildings gathered around the sea wall, nestled at the foot of green wooded hills. A marinero in gleaming whites waves to us and points to his VHF. We establish contact and drop our anchor in the middle of the harbour, reversing up to the wall where he catches our lines and ties us off to the bollards on the quay.

The swell pushes into the harbour, our lines snatch and groan as the load come onto our cleats, water droplets burst off the ropes, then the pressure eases, until the next swell lifts us again. We fit rubber snubbers to our dock lines and I go to the air conditioned Capitainerie where I clear customs on an Apple Mac, pay my 70 Euros and I am told that there is no shore power and no water because the island doesn't have the capacity to supply all the yachts. This is St Barths.

We shower on Juno and go ashore for cocktails. It is early evening and the beautiful people are emerging from their hideaways, languorous and cool in studied casual chic. We ask the dusky Czech waitress about restaurants and she raises an eye brow at our suggestions and recommends Bonito, a five minute walk up the hill. We walk slightly out of town up the steep hillside where we are greeted by a young doorman who directs us past an oasis of green palms into the restaurant. It is a huge room with a bar running down the length of a wall, large white sofas in the centre, fans slowly circling above from a white panelled ceiling and tables and chairs grouped along the balcony looking out over the harbour lights below. The barman is well known in Gustavia so we feel obliged to sample his potent concoctions and let the hypnotic sound of the resident DJ wash over us adding to the delicious feeling of decadence. The ceviche is cold and succulent, mixed with mango and chilli leaving our lips tingling, relieved by more cocktails which cool our mouths and fuzz our heads. The food is exquisite, undoubtedly the best we have had in the Caribbean and we weave back down the hill to Juno feeling that we have discovered a jewel.

I go to the marina office the following day to check the forecast and I am told that a large swell is forecasted, caused by a storm off the East coast of the US, twelve hundred miles away. We spend the morning browsing the shops of Gustavia where elegant local boutiques rub shoulders with Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Due to the swell, the ferries on Sunday to St Martin have been cancelled so Paul and Consuelo book the evening ferry on Saturday, a day earlier than planned, and we hire a car on their last day to explore. St Barts is a small island, with sharply contoured rocky hills and gorgeous beaches and we are tempted to stop at St Jean, home of the famous Eden Rock Hotel and the Nikki Beach restaurant. It is simply irresistible and we find ourselves drawn into the cool shade under soaring white canopies which fringe the beach, where pretty waitresses serve sushi and fruit punch. After lunch we drive around the east coast of the island, stopping for a swim at Saline beach and then back into Gustavia in time to catch the ferry. We say goodbye to Paul and Consuelo in the port and dinghy back to Juno, anchored in the bay, just in time to see them leaving on the ferry, waving from the upper deck. It has been a week of contrasts with the Windsors, from busy Antigua to the solitude and wilderness of Barbuda to the sophistication and elegance of St Barts. As always they have been great company and such good sports, mucking in with all the chores and obviously enjoying being back on Juno.

Fatty and I spend a day on board at anchor, then a trip to the supermarket and one final visit to Bonito where we toast the Windsors in absentia, and make our plans to head North to St Martin and then Anguilla.

1 comment:

  1. Missing Juno, missing St Barths, missing Bonito and missing you guys xx