Thursday afternoon we spent a couple of hours in The Old Gin House enjoying the view of the anchorage. Quite amazed by the fact that there are so many tankers around – obviously the demand for fuel bunkering continues strongly! It is a bit weird though to have such vast neighbours. Not least the huge pilot boats which are constantly moving on and off the massive mooring ball behind us. Don’t get scared Morphie!!!
Having caught up on the internet we headed back to Morphie before dark. The swells were increasing by the hour and it was so rolly it was really difficult / dangerous to cook! It settled down a bit during the night but not much. These swells were not forecast so hopefully they’ll go away quickly.
Friday morning and it seemed a little calmer in the anchorage. Waking up to the stunning views of this place make it all worthwhile! The rim of the Quill Volcano draws my eye constantly. It is possible to hike the Quill but you have to use ropes to pull yourself up over large boulders at the top – and I really can’t afford to risk further damage to my ankle – so have to pass it up. Shame….
Going ashore we wandered the lower level – the main town of Oranjestad is up on the cliff – and admired the views of all the ruins which tumble into the sea and it is clear that excavations are continuing. Some have been renovated too….one into a bar and gift shop but we haven’t found it open yet…although their hole in the wall model might give an indication of the style within???
These ruins twist and bend along the beach as well as continue along the whole of the shore line underwater with some of them even entwined with tree roots. They are the ancient remains of shops and warehouse and a long wall which have, over time, collapsed through disrepair and hurricane damage. There used to be up to three hundred sailing ships at any one time in this anchorage during the mid to late 1700s when Statia was the trade capital of the Indies and one of the world’s busiest harbours. Amazing history!
When we were here last year we found – too late in the day to use it – that there was a small hotel bar which had a pool overlooking the anchorage. And they would let us use their facilities so long as we purchased drinks. Lovely setting and we were looking forward to relaxing here for the afternoon.
The pool was pretty blue and was very inviting – so we grabbed a couple of cold ones and walked in. Standing there chatting and Richard pointed out the consistency of the water…. We then looked closely and realised that the filters weren’t working and the level of the pool was below them anyway. Oh no….. disgusting…… gross!!!! So we quickly exited and went back to Morphie, tied up dink and swiftly jumped into the sea to get cleaned up. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the transom chatting with the occasional swim. By now the swells were coming through stronger again….. and we had to hang on for our lives! Getting back safely into the cockpit we ended up down below making sure everything was stowed. Another dodgy night for cooking….. and another early night. Only this time it was absolutely impossible to sleep and we tossed and turned literally all night.
Saturday and we had to get off the boat as quickly as possible, it was that bad. And getting off Morphie into dink was pretty terrifying! So we head into the Old Gin House and catch up on the internet. We feel really bad because our friends Julia and Lyle on Orion – who we last saw in January 2013 in the BVIs – are leaving Sint Maarten today specifically to meet us. The wind is howling and the sea conditions are rough. Oh no…. quickly we send them an email saying if you haven’t left, don’t! But no reply so we realise that they are on their way. All we can do is hope that it calms down!
We then wander up the old slave road to the town… I say wander – really it is a bit of a hike – and the uneven cobbled surface doesn’t help. We make it – a little breathless – to the top and enjoy the spectacular views below.
First of all we go to find the bank – Statia uses the US dollar and we don’t have many of those. So drinking vouchers successfully replenished and we wander around admiring the old buildings and picking up a few things in the Chinese supermarket.
On our way back to the path down we explore the Fort which also has an interesting history as Statia was the first nation to salute an American naval vessel, ultimately leading to friction between England and Holland. Thankfully that was settled a long time ago! Great views from here too…..
Back down to the bottom level and we can see that the boats are still rolling around…… so we head into the Old Gin House – admiring the unique roundabout – and have lunch. Pretty simple menu and we ordered a burger each. It was absolutely huge – and delicious! And Richard ended up hand-feeding some to a little lizard who clearly enjoyed his company….
While we were sitting there we watched a boat come in and realised that it was Orion. Very excited! So we headed back out in the dinghy and went to say hello. They were pretty wet and salty but happy to arrive… They were quarantined for the rest of the day on board as the customs had shut at 11.00 am so we went back on Morphie, got rid of our stuff, and went over to spend a very nice afternoon catching up with them on board Orion.
While we were on Orion a very large charter catamaran tried to pick up a local small boat mooring next to Morphie – and then they propped it – and then they broke it apart – and then, thankfully, moved. We were tempted to sound the air horn at them but thought they might crash into Morphie when we startled them! Of course, the minute they were secure, they all headed ashore for the evening – even though they should have remained on board too…. Really annoys me when people are so disrespectful of international regulations – shame they didn’t get caught and fined. That would have given them a holiday to remember!!!!
Oh well….never mind…..rant over. Lovely sunset tonight…..
Sunday morning – the offending boat has now left without ever having checked in of course – and we have a lazy time on board. Thankfully the swell seems to be moderating. At 1pm we picked up Lyle and Julia in dink and headed in for a bobbing session on the black sand beach. As we surfed in – with Julia and me already in the water holding onto the front of dink – a huge wave broke over our heads and swamped us all. All our bags and even the petrol can was floating in dink!!! We have never been caught quite like that before… Ooops…. We did manage to pull dink up the beach and drained him….. and then went bobbing in the surf for a few hours. We had a lovely time but were all a bit worried about how we were going to get off this beach as the surf was crashing and seemed to be getting bigger and stronger by the minute! But we managed to get the timing right, we all survived and dink didn’t get swamped again…. Phew! Back on board and we returned to Orion for another few hours…. Great hospitality, a few different wines were sampled and we had lots of laughs. So much to catch up on! Back on board and so to bed… Still rolly but I think we are becoming a bit immune to it!
Monday and we spent most of the day on board doing boat jobs – charging batteries, doing more laundry, making more water…. While sitting in the cockpit having a cuppa we noticed that one of the pilot boats was having a big wee…. What a show off!!!!
In the afternoon we headed ashore. We got chatting to a Scottish couple who had crossed the Atlantic with the ARC rally on their 47 foot Oyster. They told us how challenging they were finding the sailing here…. which really surprised us! They’d also had to upgrade their anchor and outboard to cope with the very different conditions than they were used to in the Med. Really interesting…. After a short while we bade them farewell and Julia and Lyle turned up for sundowners – so we spent a few hours chatting before heading back on board for a quick dinner and so to bed. Luckily the swells seem to have reduced and fingers crossed they stay away this time!
Tuesday and Richard went ashore to extend our stay with customs while I did some blogging…. Then we had a lazy time until we sprang into action to get cleaned up in preparation for Julia and Lyle coming over for sundowners. Had another good evening together….. and enjoyed the spectacular colours of the sky behind the tug after the sun went down.
This morning – Wednesday – we’re ashore to get this published and catch up on emails…. While sitting here the little lizard has come back to visit his friend and has actually been nibbling Richard’s toes… That’ll teach him for feeding him meat earlier in the week LOL!!!
This afternoon we plan to snorkel along the shoreline to see the ruins of the old city wall…. and hoping for some good fish photos! Tonight we have dinner reservations at The Old Gin House as it is BBQ and music night….. We are planning – weather permitting – to leave Statia on Friday for Sint Maarten…..
Bye for now