After weeks and weeks of waiting, it all changes in a second. The anchor is up, the sails are full and we are off. The captain had assured me that the forecast was for 20 knots of wind. I had checked as well and in my predictions it was saying up to 25+ knots; this comes to proof, that you should never blindly trust the captain! And guess who was right?
The sail to Oranjestat in Statia is 35 NM. We started off with 25 knots and these conditions probably went on for about 2 hours. I was a bit nervous but the boat was going really well and we sailed between a close haul and a close reach all the way.
We had the second reef in the main and a 100% of the jibe. There was some swell but it wasn’t too bad. By middle way, the wind calmed down and we had 15 knots for about an hour. The captain here was happily saying how his predictions were right but as I said before it only lasted for an hour or so and then it started blowing again this time with plenty of “bullets”. This is my newly learnt nautical term. For the non sailors out there, a bullet is when the wind is already strong and then you get even stronger gusts of wind. I’m not a particular fan of them.
By the time we reached Statia, the island was acting as a funnel and the bullets were reaching 30+ knots, but we made it safely to port after about 7 hours at sea. It was already past 4pm so we stayed on the boat, raised our yellow flag( this is a quarantine flag that we have to raise every time we reach a new port and haven’t cleared in yet), we cooked some dinner and went to bed really early.
Statia is a Dutch island and its capital and only city is called Oranjestat. It has a lot of history as in the 1700 was one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean as boats from all over the world would come here to trade goods. It was called the Golden Rock and it passed hands 22 times between Holland, France and Spain until it finally became Dutch. Now it has a population of around 4,000 from different parts of the world and its main industries are tourism and oil; not producing oil but storing it for the rest of the Dutch islands.
We stayed there for two days. The first day we explored the city, which has some amazing old architecture and ruins. We went to the beach in Oranje Baii and snorkelled, where we could see the rests of an old wall and the remains of an anchor and some cannons. It’s a very quiet little island; not much happening but lots of people come here for the diving, which we heard it’s pretty good.
The following day we took on the Quill mountain, which is a dormant volcano. You can do a hike that takes you straight to the rim of the volcano and you can look down into the crater. We didn’t go down to the crater as we were already a bit tired and we still wanted to keep going up the panorama trail to see the view from the top. It was worth while the long walk; amazing views from the north side of the island. On the way down, we decided to pick up some rubbish as the previous day we noticed there was a lot of littering around the streets. We filled a whole big bag of rubbish in walking a few roads down to the bay.
The next morning we woke up and went to the port office to do our check out and they informed us that we had to go to the airport to see immigration as no one was there to clear us out. We were annoyed by this information as it wasn’t an easy walk. We would have to do the hike up as Oranjestat is divided into a lower and upper town and the airport was in the upper section of the city. We weren’t going to pay for a taxi so we just started walking and luckily once we were in the upper level of the city a really nice lady gave us a lift to the airport. Her name was Aracely and she was from Venezuela. Her husband has been living in Statia for four years working for an oil company and she comes and goes a few times a year to visit him. She was so helpful that she waited for us outside the airport and took us back to the bay.
Two days were enough and we were ready to keep moving. The anchor up, the wind on our sails and off we went to our next destination, St. Kitts.
I asked Mick if there was anything he would like to add to our narration about Statia and all he could say was: The captain is always right!