Southern Boating

St. Barth

Port de Gustavia attracts vessels of all sizes that dock in this picturesque main harbor.

St. Barth: Worth the trip and the budget

Although my family can hardly be included among the glitterati, enchanting St. Barthelemy—more commonly known as St. Barth—is our favorite landfall. Red-tiled roofs saunter down immaculately kept hillsides and stop just short of a stunning turquoise harbor where megayachts line the flower-bedecked quay. All manner of sailing and power vessels crowd the outer anchorages and inner mooring field for good reason: exquisite cuisine, duty-free French shops, glistening beaches, beautiful people, storybook cottages, picture-postcard scenery, and one of the safest ports in the Lesser Antilles.

Scarcely eight square miles of arid volcanic rock, the tidy, sophisticated, picturesque St. Barth is a bit of an anomaly among the islands. The buttoned-up Capitainerie keeps a sharp eye on comings and goings in the harbor, and the effective but fairly invisible gendarmes watch what happens ashore. Clearing in, despite the challenge of using a French keyboard, is a pleasantly efficient experience. A plethora of stern-to berths house superyachts just a few feet from charming downtown Gustavia, the island’s capital. Large, frequently crowded anchorages sprawl along the south side of the harbor entrance and north of the commercial pier. The most popular is northwest of Fort Oscar, an easy dinghy ride to the town quay. The inner harbor’s bow-stern mooring field is more convenient and comfortable if there is an open spot that matches your LOA. There is also side-to and stern-to dockage seaward of the mega-docks, but keep in mind that winter swells make for rolling nights aboard, which explains its general availability.