Thoughts on Statia

Oranjestad, St Eustatius (Statia)

Approach: Statia is fairly steep to, with no significant natural off lying hazards. That said, there are numerous tug mooring buoys associated with the oil terminal in Tumbledown Dick Baai (N of Oranjestad) and these can have long warps streaming from them. To the S of Oranje Bay there are numerous buoys about marking dive sites but we saw very little in the way of fishing marks. I wouldn’t suggest an approach by night as a sensible option. The green buoy at the end of the Roro wharf has disappeared but two large metal buoys (yellow and lit, F) about a cable to the W mark it clearly enough.

Anchorage: Oranje Bay is the only place to anchor as Statia’s coast is designated a marine park out to the 30m contour. The ‘bay’ is really an open roadstead with a modicum of protection afforded by the Roro wharf and breakwater in the SE and Interlopers Point to the NW and wide open to the SW. Not surprisingly a swell makes itself felt but in normal trade wind conditions this is not too bad. The Bay has many mooring buoys for small craft, mostly local fishing and dive boats. Some were laid specifically for yachts and an elaborate colour coding system was introduced but all this seems to have gone by the wayside. No fear, as the holding on soft sand is excellent. We anchored in 8m on the seaward side of the mooring field, others chose to go closer inshore in 4m or so. There is a dinghy dock on the N side of the breakwater which, I’d imagine, would be untenable if there was a serious swell running in but was fine during our stay.

Formalities: Contrary to some recent accounts we found immigration and customs friendly and efficient both, along with the harbour master’s office, are to be found at the root of the breakwater. You’ll also need to visit the Park Office (turn left from the dinghy dock, about 100m on the right) to get a permit to anchor (US$30/week) and hiking permits for the land parks ((US$10/head).

Services: Statia is not a place to come for a major re-provision, arrive with adequate water, diesel and gas. The supermarket ‘Duggins’ on De Windtweg looks as if it’s fallen through a time warp from the 50’s but has a decent range of basics – particularly just after a fresh container has been breached. The bakery is sadly disappointing. There are plenty of restaurants both in the upper and lower towns offering the usual suspects at rather less than the usual rates but also some more specialist Statian fare such as Goat Burger. As at Deshaies our children enjoyed doing their school work in the air conditioned calm of the library which also has good WiFi. There a couple of banks with ATMs (note that Statia works in US$ not € as one might expect) but when I tried to exchange some E Caribbean $ I was treated as though I were attempting to swap last Christmas’s paper crowns for real money.

Fun and Games: We loved Statia. Some people might feel that the constant comings and going of the tugs and big ships mar the peace. We felt it gave a lovely feeling of activity. The lower town is mostly made up of dive operations, small restaurants and a couple of hotels amongst which chickens, goats, ground doves and the occasional, thrilling, humming bird meander. Up a sharp climb to the upper storey of Oranjestad and you are among a charming mix of brightly painted wooden houses…

…ancient stone mansions…

…and many ruins left over from the island’s commercial glory in the late 18th century. History lies thickly everywhere you look.

We particularly enjoyed the remains of the Dutch Reformed Church and the Synagogue and the museum in Simon Donke House.

As some of the history isn’t terribly to the credit of British interests so much of it was news to us!

The snorkelling in the harbour is terrific with the centuries old sea wall now ten feet under water and teeming with fish. Apart from shoals of small reef fish we also saw large barracuda and tuna as well a turtles. It really is a treat.

Another joy of Statia is the hiking up and around The Quill, the volcano that dominates the S half of the island. The paths are well made and clearly marked. Climbing up to the crater lip is much less demanding than the St Kitts version but the last climb up to the highest point on the N side is very steep, tho’ assisted with fixed ropes. From the top you can see the whole island as well as Saba, St Martin and St Barts, about 30M away. There are also paths leading round the volcano’s base.

Statia is a most lovely place, amazingly overlooked by most cruising sailors. Make sure to visit next time your passing!

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