18 February, 2017
A couple of days on Buck Island morphed into a week. We dropped our anchor in the little Bight on the west end of the island. The long reef to our North kept out the waves from that direction, while a crescent-shaped, sandy beach sheltered us from the prevailing easterlies. During our week there, snorkeling charters from St. Croix joined us daily, disgorging dozens of vacationers onto the beach for their “hour in the sun”. By 16h00, we were usually alone for the night, or joined at most, by one or two other boats. Facing West, the sunsets were beautiful, and the moon was full during the week. We spent several days hiking, re-hiking, and re-hiking the solitary trail up and over the tiny isle. The 300’ rise afforded us some great views and a bit of exercise too. We spent another day circumnavigating the island on our kayaks, cleaning up flotsam on deserted beaches as we went, ending up with 4 large garbage bags of trash. The first half of the trip was a workout, paddling against a 17kn. wind, and choppy 2 ½ footers. After our lunch break on a small sandy beach, the rest of the trip was a breeze-literally. It was downwind all the way home. We foisted off some bags of trash on an obliging snorkel charter, and left the rest at the outhouse on the beach (after arranging for the Park rangers to pick them up the previous day.) On our last day there, we were cruising in the dinghy when we heard someone yelling “White Star!” Coming around, we found that it was Mark and Dave, from Palmas del Mar, PR on Mark’s boat, along with several ladies that they had met on St. Croix. We enjoyed visiting with them, and had dinner together before they had to leave (no overnight permit.)
We left Buck Island at Midnight on the 13th, to time our arrival at St. Barthelemy before dusk. Our cruising guides told us that we’d have several choices for anchoring/docking, and we wanted to be certain that we didn’t run out of daylight before making a decision. As day broke, we got the lines in the water, and were rewarded with a small, but enough for several meals, Blackfin Tuna. As we arrived at St. Barth’s, it was apparent that the anchorage outside Gustavia was really rolly, and the harbor was full. We headed northwest to Anse du Colombier , several miles from town, and picked up a mooring ball, joining around 15-20 other boats anchored/moored there. After clearing Customs in Gustavia the next morning, we spent the day window shopping (Hermes, Prada, Rolex, Vuitton, etc., etc.) and walking the seawall along “Ego Alley”, where MANY 100+ footers were Med-moored in a neat little row. Actually, the mere 100 footers looked small as compared to their big sisters. Lunch at “Shellona” on Shell beach was a treat, although pricey (over $100, no booze) rubbing shoulders with the “Beautiful People” there. The visit to town confirmed that our decision on Anse du Colombier was the right one, for multiple reasons. As our friend, Randy, is prone to say “The rich people are pushing the millionaires out.” Next day was spent hiking the trails from Anse du Colombier. The first took us along the rocky North shore, skirting the edge of the cliffs which dropped some hundred feet down to the crashing surf. After backtracking to the bay, a second trail took us to the top of the island, providing us with views of both the North and South sides (as well as cell coverage). By the time we got to the top (177 meters) of this rocky, dry trail, we were both huffinandpuffin. Our vantage point gave us a nice view of the house that David Rockefeller built in the late 60’s, which has been vacant, and decaying, since 1992. It is spectacular, located atop a peak overlooking Colombier on one side, and Gustavia (several miles away) on the other. If you’re interested, it was featured in articles in Architectural Digest, and Variety magazines. The architecture reminded us of the Rockefeller property located on Caneel Bay, St. John, USVI. In the evening, the park ranger came by, and informed us that we were too big for the mooring. We pulled off, and dropped anchor just outside the field. The morning of the 17th, we went back into town, and cleared out with Customs after taking the opportunity to cover some of the back roads, and points of historical interest.
By 13h30, we were anchor up, and headed to Ile Fourchue, just 4 miles away, where we planned to spend the night in the bay on the south side of this uninhabited private island before heading over to St. Martin. Forty-five minutes later, the anchor was down, and we were enjoying the warm afternoon sun with the eight or ten boats on moorings there. As the afternoon ebbed, most of the other boats departed. By cocktail time, there were only 4 boats besides ourselves, and we looked forward to a peaceful night. Right around dusk, another boat cruised in. As they passed close by, one of the folks on board yelled in French, then English, “Did we have any lobsters for sale?” because we looked like a fishing boat. (HaHaHaHa-he really thought that was funny.) They proceeded to grab a mooring ball, and partied until 02h00, screaming, whistling, and playing French rap music, which reverberated off the cliff walls rimming the bay. Very uncool. I’m sure that two of the other boats there, which had small children on board were impressed. When we left for St. Martin at 10h00, the revelers were all still asleep. We had a sunny, breezy passage to St. Martin. As we passed Phillipsburg on the South (Dutch) side of this divided island, we could see no less than 5 cruise ships docked in the bay. Rounding the West end of the island, we turned up into Marigot Bay on the French side. There is a large lagoon occupying the inside of the west end, which is accessible by passing through drawbridges on either the Dutch or French side. Our initial plan was to stay in the lagoon, but in reading the cruiser’s net reports, we were concerned about: high crime against boaters, and the cleanliness of the water inside. So……. here we are, anchored in Marigot Bay on the French side.