Thursday, May 13, 2010

The winds were howling through the anchorage overnight and in the morning so we decided to postpone our departure by one day; in addition we would have had to start rather early in order to arrive in Antigua during daylight hours, so the morning was a slow one spent doing a lot of ... nothing. After consuming the remaining cheeses from the store in Gustavia we decided to walk to Gustavia - a rather ambitious task, as it turned out. After climbing up a path where the typical Japanese would have adorned full alpine climbing gear we made it to the top of the hill over Colombier drenched in sweat and were fortunate enough to talk to some tourists with a rental car who were not only from Berlin but also offered us a lift to the airport.
The airport is an impressive one, cut into the only place on St. Barths that could accommodate such, but only barely. The approach is a blind one for the pilot and once clearing the promontory the aeroplane has to literally drop down to the runway in order to manage a landing. Fortunately the trade winds are funnelled through this channel and it becomes a bit easier to land in 20+ knots of headwind. I'm attaching an unedited and very amateurish video of a landing to this post - I should note that while Björn and another visitor ducked when the aeroplane flew overhead I was too busy trying to film with my camera to think about doing that until afterwards.
As it was a national holiday all the stores were closed, but we did find a cab to bring us back to close to Colombier and save us the climbing excursion on our return, plus he chose an entrance with much better access for us. Upon return to the boat and after a cleansing swim in the clear waters of the Anse, I worked on splicing another lifeline and Björn went snorkeling. After the exertions of the day we had an early dinner and were asleep early in preparation for the passage on the next day.

See the video clips page for a video of a St. Barths airport landing.

Zanshin I in Colombier Zanshin I in Colombier
Zanshin I in Colombier
Boats anchored in Colombier Boats anchored in Colombier

[17°55'22.96"N 62°52'5.29"W (facing NW)]
Boats anchored in Colombier
St. Barths takeoff The takeoff is a piece of cake when compared to the landing. Some of those landing tire marks are more than halfway down this very short (and downward sloping) runway!

[17°54'17.56"N 62°50'53.72"W (facing E)]
St. Barths takeoff
St. Barths takeoff This twin used up most of the runway before rotating and then banked sharply left to avoid flying into the terrain at the other side of the bay.

[17°54'17.53"N 62°50'53.89"W (facing E)]
St. Barths takeoff
Colombier beach trial Walking along the beach trail from Colombier to the trailhead at the road.

[17°55'13.66"N 62°51'53.39"W (facing E)]
Colombier beach trial
St. Barths north shore A sailboat in the distance sailing wing-on-wing off the northern shore of St. Barths.

[17°55'17.92"N 62°51'56.56"W (facing NE)]
St. Barths north shore
Bjoern on St. Barths This was taken on the path back to Colombier from where we left the taxi. We'd taken a very roundabout and long route on the outbound leg and the taxi driver told us about this shortcut along the cliffs and water.
Bjoern on St. Barths
Colombier Beach Trail The path along the cliffside from Colombier to the end of the road has some stunning views and in this photo one can see how the strong winds on this unprotected side of the island have formed the flora.

[17°55'21.06"N 62°51'57.18"W (facing N)]
Colombier Beach Trail

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