"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

I'll race ya to Statia

>> Friday, February 22, 2013

After spending three days anchored in Oranjestad Bay, St. Eustatius (a dependency of the Netherlands), we are sailing towards Guadeloupe. Our time spent on Statia was both brief and incredible. During our stay on the island, we observed the many oil freighters that lumber into the harbor with their cargo. The massive ships dock at “Statia Terminals,” the oil storage and distribution center that Statia is perhaps best known for today. We also snorkeled on the reef in the bay, collecting data samples, which will tell us if the reef is healthy, or not. We explored town as well, walking past the famous “Fort Orange” which protected the island from invasion during European colonization. The most notable activity we did during our time on St. Eustatius was hiking “the Quill.
            The Quill, which means pit in Dutch, is a 601-meter tall dormant volcano, which dominates the Southern half of the island. The caldera of the Quill, having been inactive for many years, has filled in with dense jungle creating a kind of bowl, which cradles a unique ecosystem. The trailhead to the Quill trail is at the top of town. Therefore, you have to hike up through the village and neighborhoods to reach it. This first section of the hike was interesting because we got the chance to see how the St. Eustatius locals actually live. Many of the houses are made out of cement blocks and are painted with bright colors, and bordered by chain-link fences. They all face out toward the shimmering Caribbean Sea.
            Our hike from the neighborhood to the volcano’s rim was packed with wildlife. The amount of flora and fauna on the Quill is immense. We saw several snakes, hanging plants, which grow in the air attached to the trees, many chickens and an abundance of hermit crabs. These crabs are born in the sea, climb on land, ascend the mountain, and then during a full moon they roll back down to the sea, completing their life cycle.
            When at last we reached the summit, the vista was spectacular. Not only could we see the town of Oranjestad, Statia terminals, and the islands small landing strip, but also we saw the Harvey Gamage at anchor in the bay. For me, the reality of Ocean Classroom set in while staring down at the dot in the harbor, which is our home for the next three and a half months. Our time in St. Eustatius got me even more excited for the rest of the trip and I hope that the rest of the stops along the way will be as awesome and interesting as Statia was.

Alex Paige


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