23 April 2011

Paques et Pesach en Paradise

While our friends from the north are still donning woolen ski caps instead of Easter bonnets, the weather here for the Easter/Passover week has been beautiful. Gentle breezes, warm, temperatures in the eighties.

Easter is VERY big here.  The schools have been closed for the entire week leading up to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and then spilling over to Easter Monday.  Stores, including the banks and (gasp) hardware stores, are shut tight for the four day weekend.

Local St. Barthians take to the beaches with a passion.  Weather is perfect, water is warm, the kids are off from school, parents not working, hey, why not?  I am talking beaching it full time.  While it is against local ordinances to sleep overnight on the beach (note the "overnight" qualifier--I sleep on the beach every day!), the rule is relaxed for the Easter weekend and many families trade in their concrete and wood residences for a tent on the beach.  Hot? Jump in the sea. Sweaty? Jump in sea. Hungry? Open the huge coolers where one finds a five-day supply of Heineken, jambon et frommage paninis, and Heineken.

The "tents" run the gamut from a single blue tarp tied at the corners to 6' high vertical sticks (no walls, no floor) to LL Bean rigs that spring open with a snap, complete with floors, screens, etc.  Some families join together and create community shelters with 20 foot long tarp walls on three sides, community dining tables, gasoline-fueled electric generators, inflatable mattresses, and, for all I know, a stash of iPads.  A sampling is pictured below:


On the other hand, Passover-- which this year occurred during Easter Week--is not usually celebrated by camping out, here or elsewhere. (At least it was not on Carrol Street in Brooklyn.) Home and hearth are the traditional locales for seders.  Well, for most  people anyway.

It appears that Mr. Ronald O. Perelman, the Revlon magnate, like the St. Barthians, abjures grounded residence(s) and, in a manner of speaking, also prefers to "rough it"  for his holy day celebrations.

For a number of years, Ron owned a yacht named "Ultima III" which he frequently docked stern-to in a slip at the quay in Gustavia.

But the Ultima III was only 188 feet long, so Ron put her on the block, and had a Bremen shipyard build something a little more comfy---the "C-2", aka "The Creek" (The new ship is aptly christened; "The Creeks" is the name of the 40 room, 50 acre estate Ron bought in 1993. It has been described as "the largest and most spectacular estate in the Village of East Hampton, with more than a mile of frontage on Georgica Pond and a view of the Atlantic Ocean.")

Btw, the name "C-2" appears on the stern as C squared, as you will soon see. I am just assuming it relates to the plural "Creeks", as in the East Hampton homestead, but that is only a guess.  For all I know, it is an intentional, or perhaps Freudian, shorthand for " The S.S. Conspicuous Consumption."  I really dunno.

The C-2, built in Germany in 2008, is 260 feet long, (think city block), 40 feet wide, and has a steel hull and aluminum superstructure.  I have not yet
found on the web an estimate of cost, but the world's largest yacht, twice the length of C-2, is said to cost $500 million.  You figure it out.

For Passover, C-2 was docked "side to" or "alongside" the quay.  This is highly
unusual. Ships normally dock "stern to" the quay, meaning ass-end
facing the dock. In that configuration, the quay can accommodate 8-10 ships. Vessels that are too long for the quay (they stick out too far and block traffic to the inner harbor) must anchor outside the harbor and guests and crew are ferried ashore via tenders.

Though C-2 is way too long to dock stern-to at the quay, Ron nevertheless rejected the anchoring-in-the-outer-harbor option, and simply arranged to rent the entire quay.  The other boats were moved elsewhere so that the C-2 could tie up alongside for his seder.  (I am assuming it was a seder. On the second day of Passover, the security guy at the foot of the gangplank said there had been a "religious celebration aboard the night before.")    A port officer told me the cost "was not too bad, only about $8,000 per night."  That's a lot of matzohs.

Given our view of the sea , we see lots of big yachts, but at a distance.  Here is what C-2 looked like as she departed St. Barths yesterday:

But being close alongside one of these superyachts is quite something else.  Here is what she looks like at the quay, from one end to the other. (Btw, for you landlubbers, the pointy end is the bow, and fat end the stern.


Oh, yeah, we were not invited to Ron's Seder.  Maybe next year?

A bientot.

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