Festina  is back in passage making mode  for the first time in several months . We spent two completely windless days  anchored out in the bay off Jolly harbour , fitting a new hatch , going through the checklists and safety procedures  and generally converting  the boat back from a floating caravan into something more like  a sea going vessel.  The grib files suggested some wind on Sunday so we were up at 0300 – and motored north in a flat calm! After an hour , the stars disappeared  , and dawn showed  the dark ominous clouds of an approaching front which hosed us down thoroughly before delivering  us a perfect  18 knots on the beam and sent us scurrying off at maximum speed to eat up the 70 odd miles to St Bartholomy.

One of the vicarious pleasures of any anchorage is watching  newcomers come in and try to find a good spot. How many goes will it take before the anchor holds ? Will they anchor too close to someone  and be shooed  away.  We hold up our hands and admit that on several  (!) occasions we have been pretty smug watching other boats circle anxiously and drop and retrieve the anchor time and again.   Well , the boot was firmly on the other foot  this time as with a SE wind forecast , the anchoring options were pretty limited  in the roadstead off Gustavia  (the port of entrance), and all the best places were taken by moorings.

Our first attempt was OK , but  a long way out and would be very rolly when the wind swung.  The next attempt was just inside the fairway , and seemed perfect , until the wind started to eddy and blow every which way. I dived on the anchor and set it in a hole in the sand , which should have held whichever way we swung – but from time to time we were a bit too close to one mooring buoy – thankfully empty. As dusk approached , it looked like we would get away with it , except hang on – where is that big catamaran going? You guessed it – it was heading  for our “empty” mooring buoy , and at that moment a gust from completely the “wrong “ direction set us less than a boatlength away  from him. All round the bay folk peered under their awnings and grinned with satisfaction as  we started to retrieve the anchor . As luck would have it , the owner of the cat was a perfect gentleman who pointed out a mooring  he knew would be unused for at least a week  ,which was how  we ended up in the best spot in the harbour  and  spoiled  the  not so innocent pleasure of the surrounding boats.

Ashore , St Barts is like a tropical version of Deauville , but with more Americans.   It has the same feeling of Paris- by- the- sea  with all  immaculate buildings and  chic shops  and restaurants . It even has the odour of dog poo in the street  that  we haven’t come across since we were last in France. You know you are getting close as your wallet starts bleeping with an “expense alert”, but despite all this – or possibly because of it , its a nice place and we will spend a couple of days here before moving on to Anguila , and then the British Virgin Islands.


  1. It all sounds rather busy in these Caribbean anchorages. You need to pop through the canal and come to where it’s a bit quieter. We’ll keep a mooring buoy ready for you outside our house. Take care, John

  2. Barring mishap we are comitted to heading home – but that doesnt mean we cannot visit via 747!

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