Monday, May 15, 2017

1980 (30) - St. Barths

Dunescape.  An art quilt.  43" x 53"

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

An overnight sail from Antigua took us north to the island of St. Barths.  So many cruising people we met praised St. Barths to the sky.  Since we’d found it pleasant during a previous three-day visit, we decided to spend a few more days there.  Whatever mystique this small French island held for others continued to elude us.  But then, if everyone had the same favorite island, there would be a rather lopsided distribution of boats through the Caribbean.  I’ve seen more than one puzzled expression when I list Antigua as my favorite.

St. Barths.  Postcard.  

One morning we rowed in to Gustavia, St. Barths only town.  In about an hour, we’d seen all there was to see in the shops.  Ed then proposed we hike across the island.  While that idea would normally intimidate me, I’d seen, on the chart, that St. Barths was very narrow in the middle (only 1-1/2 miles across).  The hills didn’t look too imposing, so we headed up one of the roads leaving town.  The winding road wove back and forth up the hill, so cars wouldn’t have too steep a climb.  While we meandered our way upward, we would glance back to see the picturesque Gustavia, with its red-roofed buildings, forming three sides of the rectangular harbor basin. 

Once in the hills, we began watching for the miniature airport we’d seen pictured on one of my postcards.  We knew we were getting close when a small plane literally flew through the trees ahead of us.  When we came to the opening, we were at the top of a steep hill.  We gazed down to see a short runway running from the bottom of the hill, to the sea beyond.  While standing there, we heard a “whoosh” behind us and turned to see a small plane climbing the hill.  We ducked as it went overhead.  It swept down the hill, touched down on the runway and came to a stop, just yards before it would have plopped into the sea.  We saw several landings, mostly thanks to one two-seater that was doing practice touchdowns.  And I ducked every single time, as the planes seemed to top the hill at such a low altitude.

Low-flying aircraft.  Internet photo

Since I liked to have incentive to go along with my exercise, and I’d read in our cruising book that there were restaurants ringing the bay below us, I told Ed I’d continue on in exchange for a lunch out.  We walked down the hill (with nervous glances over my shoulder for low-flying craft).  We continued along a road with the runway on one side, and fields, and an above-ground cemetery on the other side.  We returned to sea level at Baie St. Jean.  We left the road to walk on the beach for its entire length, checking out all the restaurants and reading the posted menus.  We settled on one called the “Beach Club” and enjoyed delicious fish dinners.  After the exercise, and the filling lunch, I wanted to be instantaneously transported back to the boat and my bunk for a nap.  Unfortunately, the only choice was to hike back.  Since we had less cause to dawdle, we were relaxing on Tropic Moon by mid-afternoon.

Dunescape.  Detail.  I used yarns, lace, and feathers in this quilt.
Our four days in St. Barths were followed by a week in St. Maarten, where we visited with Sunnie.  Adhering to our time schedule (yes, we actually had one), we headed “home” to the British Virgin Islands.  An overnight sail returned us to Tortola in time for our haul out at Nanny Cay Boatyard on December 1st.

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