Sunday, February 28, 2016

Statia

After bypassing Statia for years, we finally made a stop here to see the island. Officially, it's St Eustatius, also referred to as "The Golden Rock" for it's unique position as a center of commerce in the 1700's. Nations that were forbidden to trade directly with each other conducted business through this tiny island and when we visited Fort Oranje we learned that there might be a few hundred ships anchored out in the harbor all at once waiting to load or offload goods. I sincerely hope that the hundreds of ships anchored here back in those days did not experience the same roll coming in that we did in the few days we were here! It helped that we spent the days off the boat, but nights were pretty rough. 

VERY rolly anchorage in Statia
Fort Oranje with Saba in the distance
Fort Oranje is the historic centerpiece of Statia's capital, Oranjestad - it's a well restored 17th century fort with killer views and a gorgeous mango tree in the center. The guide there asked us where we were from and when Skip told him we'd come by boat from Rhode Island, his eyes widened and he said "Holy s***, that's a long way." Funny!


Statia is home to a large oil transfer and storage facility, and while we were there at least a dozen or so tankers were either anchored out waiting their turn, or at the dock loading or offloading their crude oil. Powerful tugboats and pilot boats zoomed around the harbor to help move the tankers, creating wakes that added an entirely different dimension to the already present roll in the anchorage. Busy spot. 

Tankers and sailboats coexist in Statia's harbor
Loading/offloading?
Storage tanks on Signal Hill at the island's north end
The same guide that was surprised at the distance we'd traveled by boat, told us proudly that Statia was the first to recognize the sovereignty of the new American colonies. In 1776 when the Andrew Doria, an American ship that had come to Statia to purchase weapons to be used in the Revolutionary War, fired a 13 gun salute (one shot for each colony), the governor of Statia fired a return salute, thus officially recognizing the sovereignty of our new country. We could spend ages here just absorbing the history of the island, but we wanted to wander the streets to see the old architecture and wander the trails to take in Statia's natural beauty too.

A little piece of Statia for sale
Statia architecture
The building with green shutters is the office the Statia Monument Restoration group.... made up of one very dedicated and knowledgeable young Statian man.

Cemetery overlooking the harbor
We started off early one gorgeous morning to hike The Quill, the dormant volcano that occupies the entire southeast end of the island.

Walking up the old slave road early in the morning
A long way from NY
Um... start here?
Hot and sweaty, and only half way up the trail
Oddly, this chicken was at the top of the trail where we stopped to look down into the crater
Who's photobombing here? Skip or the chicken?
The chicken was unusually friendly - and was happy to accept whatever snacks and water we offered
Sodas with fun swizzles at a local cafe - refreshing after our sweaty hike
As in Nevis, there was a small Jewish population in Statia and we walked up to see the remains of the old synagogue which was called Honen Dalim, meaning "she who is charitable to the poor". It was built with yellow bricks that were used as ballast in some of the trading ships that came to the island.

Ruins of the old synagogue
Standing inside the synagogue, imagining the small congregation that met here back in the early 1700's
There was also a Jewish cemetery that we looked and looked and looked for, but never did find. We got some interesting directions to it though.... one guy told us to take a right at the corner by the 'talking place' and then turn up a dirt path. The 'talking place'? "Yes," he said impatiently, "the place where everyone goes and talks." "Oh, the talking place. Thanks!" we said, as if we knew what he meant, and wandered off still confused. Sure enough, we came across a corner with old rugs covering patches of dirt, and tattered sofas and chairs strewn about with a few people sitting on them.... talking. So we found the talking place, but never found the cemetery.

We loved this little island but the roll in the anchorage was too much to take so we said our goodbyes to Statia and sailed for St Martin.

Getting a rare cloud free look at Saba's peak off our port side
We've been in St Martin for a few weeks now but the wifi here is so random and unreliable that another blog post will just have to wait. Next stop.... the BVI?

4 comments:

Roland Falkenstein said...

Hi- I loved Statia and the Quill.. if you get a chance to stop at Saba- it's an amazing place. Glad to see you guys still out there. I'm retiring in June and will be sailing full time after then.
maybe we'll run into each other at some point.
Roland

Dana G said...

I second Roland's comment about Saba - loved it!

BTW - that rooster at the top of the trail looks mighty familiar. Could he be the same one we met there over 3 years ago?
http://www.galleywenchtales.com/2012/12/cock-love-holiday-irreverence.html

Miss you guys & the Caribbean. You're looking fit and fabulous. Enjoy!

Wayne & Dana
in New Zealand in the yard... doing dirty and major work and a few niciities

Bob & Janice said...

Glad you are introducing us to some of the islands that we missed. Definitely loved the directions - one of the fun things about traveling - glad to hear that you at least found the talking place even if you didn't find the cemetery. Looks like you are having wonderful weather even though you have had to put up with some roll in the anchorage. Enjoy your time in St. Martin as always!

Madeline said...

HI all.... Glad to see you here in the comments! Congrats on your upcoming retirement Roland... maybe we'll see you out here one day? We LOVED Saba and spent a few bumpy nights on the deep moorings there a few years ago and hiked as much as we could before our legs gave out. Lovely!

Dana & Wayne.... Noooooo! Not in the boat yard?! Hope the niceties you're adding outweigh the dirty work. And I wouldn't doubt if that rooster was the same guy. I think he's got it pretty much figured out by now that parking himself on the Quill trail and looking sweet will get him fed.

Janice & Bob.... Wish you guys were still out here in the Caribbean, rolly anchorages notwithstanding. Looking forward to your return to Tsamaya and new blog posts from across the pond!