Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rock and Rolling in Sint Eustatius

A view of the Slaves' Road from the harbor to the village
up above the harbor and bay
We raised anchor in Basseterre, St. Kitts and headed north to Sint Eustacia's also known as Stacia. You can see  Stacia  from St. Kitts, and even from Nevis on a clear day. It is just another 12 mile sail up the island chain. Sint Eustacia's is a small island with a large history. In the Golden Era (mid to late 1700’s),  Stacia  was known as the trade capital of the Indies and had a very large commercial waterfront.

Traces of the original waterfront.
The Slaves' Road was not an easy climb -
especially if carrying heavy loads!
As we left the north end of St. Kitts, we were greeted by a large pod of dolphins. They swam along with us, criss-crossing back and forth under the bow of Trillium, most of the way to Sint Eustacia's. It is always a treat to have the dolphins along side. But it is almost impossible to capture them in a photograph since you don't know when they are going to surface and their coloring blends in with the water!
Sint Eustacia's, a little volcanic island, was one of the busiest harbors in the world with up to 300 ships at anchor at a time! It was the crossroads of the world. When the British and French were fighting each other, the Dutch, who owned  Stacia , acted as middlemen for trading since the countries would not trade directly with each other. In addition,  Stacia  sold weapons to the rebels of the American colonies seeking independence. This led to a war between Britain and Holland. The Dutch lost Stacia for a while, but got it back by the late 1700’s.

Stacia is a very quiet island. The only anchorage, which has 12 mooring balls) is in Oranje Baie, which turned out to be very rolly from the swells that bend around the island! Once again the Customs and Immigration process was challenging. We went ashore to check in. After paying the Port Authority, we had to find the Customs and Immigration people. The Customs agent was there, but the Immigration guy was not. “Come back tomorrow!” Ooo-kay! But we were free to wander around without checking in.

We climbed the steep steps and the old cobbled Slave Road up to the old town of  Oranjestad. There is a Dutch Reform Church right at the top of the road. Many of the houses are gingerbread style.
The home of Admiral Rodney on the right half
of the museum building complete with furnishings.

We visited the museum that is in a house in which Admiral Rodney lived during his stay. Once again the focus was on the slave nation and the decline of the sugar industry. The island has a mix of Dutch and descendants of the early slaves.

We walked through the village and found a little Dutch restaurant for lunch, The Fruit Tree. Apparently there are about 22 restaurants  and there are only 3400 inhabitants! Since Stacia is off the beaten path for most sailing up and down the chain, I wonder who supports all the eating establishments!

There is an American medical school there now. There is also a huge oil or gas storage facility on the north end of the island where big tanker ships come to unload their cargo. As a result, there are always a number of large ships anchored off  Stacia .

We had lunch under the trees with the lizards!
And  Stacia  has a number of diving sites so maybe divers come here and eat!  Another attraction is the volcano. You can hike up to the rim and even down into the Quill Crater. Dennis wanted to do this, but I was not too keen of reading about the red belly racer snakes (supposedly harmless) that live in the crater. They are only on  Sint Eustacia's  and neighboring island, Saba. I think he would come back to Stacia for this hike.

 Stacia is a major fuel storage port so you have to
navigate around large tankers and hoses.


  1. I have been following your journey all along. Just now have the time to comment as I lost my job of 18 years. This is on our bucket list of things to do. Enjoy the rest of your trip.
    Gary Bida

  2. This is a great post and an exciting journey. I'm actually going to be attending a St Kitts Medical School, called UMHS St. Kitts later this year. I'm not sure if that's the one you saw or not. Either way, I appreciate your input on the island, since I will be staying there for an extended period of time. I'll definitely be looking back to learn more about your amazing trip.


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