30 March 2013 | Orangjestad, Statia, 17’28.85N 62’59.30W – Marigot, St Martin via St Barts
In this world there are the ‘haves’ and the ‘have yachts’. You’d normally think that the ‘have yachts’ are somewhere up the financial pecking order, but if you are familiar with the frugal way that those on Ruffian live this is not the case. There are some places in the world where that saying can be modified to the ‘have yachts’ and ‘have superyachts’. The ‘have superyachts’ are certainly in a different world from the common man with his trophy wives, his designer labels and his enormous boat that is parked with many others on the superyacht dock. We just happened to be in St Barts at the time of the ‘Bucket’ where J Class yachts and superyachts, over 100 feet long, litter the docks, the anchorage and the sea.
With a blistering sail behind us, from the volcanic island of Statia, we stated seeing on the horizon the towering hills of St Barts and many masts of equal size to the hills behind. We commented that it looked like something was happening and something was certainly happening. The Barts Bucket was happening. This is the most prestigious and exclusive invitational superyacht regatta in the world and we were in the middle of it. There were 6 J Class yachts, the biggest fleet assembled since 1932, in attendance there were 50 boats of over 100 feet milling around the bay. As we sailed into the anchorage we were lucky enough to see Ranger and Braveheart battling it out upwind and then setting kites as they bore away. They gybed around us making us feel very small, slow and inexpensive. Iain was in his element not knowing where to look and of course Fiona only had eyes for the classic J’s and nothing else.
With the big boys playing with their big toys offshore there were sights to behold onshore. Top of the sights were the orange tanned trophy wives tottering around in high heels and either carrying their little pooches, or worse still, pushing them around in little prams. We also found the shopping ramped up for these rich types, Luis Vitton, Ralph Lauren and designers so exclusive that we’ve never heard of sold garb to people at prices that made the eyes water in bags that were big enough to house small families.
As the superyacht regatta was kicking off everyone who was anyone wanted to be at anchorage off Gustavia. This was so full that if you could squeeze a Rizla paper between boats then someone would try and squeeze into that space and anchor. So although the colour of the water made this bay most welcoming, knowing that 100’s of boats were ‘discharging’ into it made us want to move onto yet another picture perfect bay.
Just around the corner from Gustavia was a bay much more to our liking, particularly as it was full of our friends and anchoring was akin to putting the hook down in a golf course, lots of grass with occasional bunkers of sand. With such a super social anchorage and a white sandy beach we took the opportunity to have our first beach barbeque since Gigha in Scotland many months ago. Someone was smiling on us for the occasion as we’d been getting soaked all day long in massive downpours but as we all landed on the beach and set the fire going the clouds parted the skies cleared and we’d be treated to yet another sunset with all our boats in the foreground.
While we were ashore watching the sunset Russell crowed that he’d be going back to Mad Fish where his batteries would be full and his hot water hot. He’d plugged in his generator and forgot to turn it off before venturing ashore. We’ve been worried about the state of our new batteries for a couple of weeks and when we heard of his portable generator we jumped on him. That evening, for the first time since the Canaries, we’d have 240 volts on the boat and our batteries would be topped up. All this was to no avail and we finished the evening more confused about the state and science of batteries than ever before.
When we got to St Martin with its duty free shopping and the plethora of chandleries we took the opportunity to speak with an expert. We scooted off the 4 miles to the Dutch side of the island and sought out the chandlery megastores. We were greeted by locked gates and a public holiday, but were given the knowledge that there was an excellent chandlery all of 200 yards from Ruffian. So after 8 miles of scooting and now within sight of the fine ship we could try and find out what was going wrong. The chandlery filled us with information and bestowed on us some new kit for Ruffian in the form of a new voltage regulator. Once fitted we have fingers crossed this would do the job.
With Easter upon us and the Easter bunny having seconded all the customs and immigration staff to deliver his chocolate surprises we’ll be on St Martin until after the break. This in no hardship as there are plenty of white sandy beaches, offlying islands and bays to explore.
Another blistering sail from Statia. We wonder if it is ever like this in The Channel.
That’s not a sight you see very often. The J Class ramping up for the Barts Bucket.
And gibing all the way down the coast inshore of us.
Then burning away into the distance. Wow.
The most crowded anchorage in the world ever on top of shimmering water.
The J Classes & Superyachts return after a hard days training.
Hmmm. This wasn’t in the forecast. Rain, rain go away.
Our first beach barbeque since Gigha in Scotland.
Yet another sunset.
The race is on as we leave St Barts with Quaver,
We’ve got to pop the kite and hunt down Chewsy who had a head start.
And Quaver eats our wake.
Ruffian sitting at anchor just yards from the shore in St Martin.
The anchorage was very well protected by the well maintained cannons.
Fiona gains the high ground in an effort to win the great battle of Marigot.
Iain fitting a new regulator. Will this save our new batteries?