Saturday, April 07, 2007

Windjammer Ships and Pirate Adventures: St. Barts

Day 3: St. Bart's (Saint-Barthélemy)-- February 19-20, 2007
Carnival in St. Barts, Beach Au Natural & Mick Jagger Came to Town
The thing about traveling with The Kid is that you just never know what is going to happen once you are on the road.

After we left St. Maarten, we headed to St. Barths. It’s always so awesome when a huge sailing ship raises sails and the SV Polynesia is no exception. It was a beautiful clear day, 80 degrees and perfect weather for sailing. I didn't for a minute think about our hometown where temperatures dipped to below freezing...

St. Barths is a short sail from St. Maarten, so we accomplished this trip in no time. I have read St. Barts is a pretty nice place. Jimmy Buffet sings about “Old St. Barths”, but from our trip I can’t really tell what that might be all about. A squall came up out of nowhere and it was momentarily rainy when we arrived in St. Barths, but it was still hot so we headed ashore to Gustavia. Gustavia was a typical Caribbean town flanked by mountains, water and huge boats.

We went into town with with sailing mates from our Mandalay trip Judy, Palmer, Nell, Claude, Shary & Chris. In town, we all had different ideas about what to do so we split up. That’s what I like about those guys, they’re fun and share the same adventurous spirit that The Kid and I have.

The two Windjammer trips we have enjoyed have had very different sites, sounds, people but both have required “island work” in at least one of the ports. In St. Barths we were tasked with the very stressful job of finding a French bottle of wine. Now, being that this was a French island, this task was easy. However our first task was to find Shell Beach as it was rumored that it was loaded with shells.

The harbor in Gustavia

"Ghost Ship" Off the Coast -St Bart's

We thought it would be fun to rent a scooter for the day, but found out that wasn’t going to be possible as it was Fat Tuesday. Again, as it was a French Island, this promised to be a fun time. A parade was scheduled and The Kid just loves a parade, so with this news and a map, we headed on foot to Shell Beach. St. Barths was hot and all The Kid wanted to do was swim. Good thing he wasn’t in the mood to read French this day, but I saw the sign that included the words “Beach Au Natural”, once we hit the beach, the look on the Kid’s face was classic, but the water was nice. The captain had allowed us to jump from the ship to swim the day before, but that idea didn’t sit very well with The Kid as heights are not his first choice for fun, so this really was the first time in 2 days that we were able to swim. The beach really was loaded with tons of shells and the water was very nice, despite the "bare-naked" French ladies.

Shell Beach

After our swim at the beach, we did manage to find a great wine shop. The Kid isn’t a big fan of wine shops or of having to speak French to wine shop owners, so he waited outside. I managed to find a great red French wine and had a pretty good conversation with the owner, once we realized English was the better language for both of us. It turned out the owner was a Canadian who decided to check out in St. Barths. I have a list of good places to go the next time we are on this island courtesy of a wonderful retired Canadian.

As we headed back into town, it was clear that the Fat Tuesday parade was a bigger deal than we imagined. many of the streets in Gustavia were closed off and the crowds were really thick. We decided that even though it was raining, we were going to stay and see the parade. It was a big deal. Kids, Adults, floats, dancers, colors, beads and even Mick Jagger. Earlier in our trip, I spent a week with a friend at North Captiva. We spent many of those days laying on the beach watching small planes fly over, commenting that Mick Jagger has an island somewhere in that part of the world and that was most likely him in the small plane. Drove my friend nuts. As we discovered on that day in St. Barths, that island could be very near St. Barths....

Next Stop: Nevis