St Eustatius – well I never…
We’d never heard of St Eustatius – known locally as Statia – but it was at one time in the 1700s the world’s busiest port with over 100 ships in the harbour at any time! This was when it was Dutch owned and they made it a free port meaning that if your country was at war with another and trade with that country was forbidden, well, you just traded via St E, basically legal smuggling. The blue glass beads that the Dutch used for early trading can still be found on the beach after a storm – it was with 28 of these that Manhattan Island was originally bought from the Indians.
The original town went well further out into the bay than it is now but after a series of hurricanes most of this was wiped out. You can see the remains of foundations under the water in the anchorage. These days it is very quiet and un touristy. Even so there are 5 flights (small planes) a day from Sint Maarten carrying divers. There are around 100 wrecks here – some deliberate but most accidental.
We wandered around the top part of town and went to the old fort, (considered running our boxing kangaroo up the flagpole for April Fool’s Day but thought better of it), church ruin and museum. We had planned to climb up to the volcano but Pete managed to bang his toes so that was off (I wasn’t too unhappy about that, I think I’ll wait for the helicopter trip over Monserrat). We met an English couple from Persephone, Nigel and Karen and had drinks with them a couple of times.
The anchorage has got a bit rolly so we’ll head to St Kitts (Christopher).