St. Barths Online

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Jun 19, 1999

Boats in distress

June is usually a pretty quiet month in St Barth, with the winter season long over and the summer one waiting to get into full swing when the schools let out. But there are always a few tourists on the loose and a few of them had a pretty exciting time of it last Saturday when gale force winds up to 90 kilometers an hour whipped up suddenly around the island.
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And it started to rain cats and dogs. Bruno Greaux, the harbor master in Gustavia, started getting Mayday calls about a few boats in difficulty at the same time.
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The first was a sailboat rented from Sun Charters in Saint Martin and it was having a hell of a time trying to get its sails down in the storm. They were unable to read their GPS location and were in quite a state of panic as they had zero visibilty and did not know which way they were headed. Brazil seemed like a likely option as the winds could be taking the boat just about anywhere.
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Greaux quickly called the national police, who keep a motor boat ready to spring into action on such occasions. But they had already had another emergency call about a pair of sailors whose catamaran had capsized and seemingly disappeared, leaving these two guys flopping around in the rough seas. Since their lives might be in danger, the police boat headed out directly to their rescue.
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So as the police (accompanied by an experienced life-saving fireman) set out to scoop up them up, Larry Goldberg, an American sailor on another Sun Charter boat had tuned in to the local VHF frequency just to see what was going on in the storm, and heard the SOS from the sailboat. He managed to get the woman aboard to calm down enough to read her GPS position and once he had a precise place to head for, he set out in his zodiac, dressed in a wetsuit and life jacket, and carrying his radio. He was faced with rather impressive ten to twelve foot waves, but he found the boat and led it safely back to the Gustavia harbor.
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In the meantime another catamaran had turned over in La Petite Anse at the end of Flamands. Luckily for that hapless sailor, Alex Greaux (who happens to be a fireman as well as the brother of the harbor master) was able to swim out and save him. It was quite a day, but thanks to the quick thinking on the part of the national police, the firemen, and the harbor master's office, everybody ended up safe and sound.
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fun in Corossol While all this was going on out at sea, a big party was taking place at Le Regal, a small restaurant in Corossol that serves as St Barth's version of a sports bar. Sebastian Piocelle, a 20-year old soccer star from Nantes, France was on the island and to celebrate his presence, Le Regal was festooned with every yellow and green tee-shirt, scarf and banner for the Nantes team that could be found. Piocelle came by for lunch with his finacee and her sister and the local soccer fans went wild. This kid hasn't had much a career yet but his hopes are pinned on the World Cup in 2006 when he'll be at the peak of his powers.
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And the fans in St Barth will be cheering for their pal who came by on that stormy Saturday in June.

Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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