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Blockcade of the Harbor at St. Barth?

The harbor at Gustavia is perfect for blockading.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Bonnie Russell of San Diego alerts us to the fact that the fishermen — and there are not many of them — on the chic island of St. Barth in the French West Indies have instituted a blockcade of the harbor at Gustavia to prevent the big yachts from coming in and out of port, or even ships from unloading fuel. The fishermen are upset about the high price of fuel. And, trust us, fuel costs about twice as much in St. Barth as it does here in the States.

The Bartians are an independent lot. A number of years ago when the French wanted to actually start collecting taxes from them, and threatened to send in troops on airplanes, the residents crowded the runway so the planes couldn’t land.

Virtually everything that comes into St. Barth does so by boat. That’s Jimmy Buffett’s new boat sitting on the trailer on the left.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

What makes the fishermen’s strategy effective is that the spots on the Charles de Gaulle Quay in Gustavia are the most coveted in the Caribbean during New Year’s. Ronald ‘Revlon’ Perlman’s 190-ft Ultima III, for example, has had the prime inside position for the last dozen years or so. But it’s not easy to get one. There are no reservations. Instead, you have to have your mini-mega yacht — 200 feet is the maximum lenth — in position on December 1. From then on, your boat can leave for the day — although it costs about $600 in diver’s fees to get the anchor rodes uncrossed — but your boat must be back in by 5 p.m. If not, you’re moved to the bottom of the list. That means the folks who paid hundreds of thousands to be on the quay on New Year’s are going to be pissed!

It’s hard to tell how this is going to play out, because these mini-mega yachts are responsible for boatloads of money pouring into the local economy. After all, who else is going to pay $65 for a bowl of cauliflower soup at the Francoise Plantation? On the other hand, fishermen, farmers and the like have always had big support from the French public. But this is probably going to be too much.

According to Bonnie Russell, the Page Six gossip feature in The New York Times reported that the blockcade prevented movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and his new bride from entering or leaving the harbor. They had chartered the big yacht owned by the ex-wife of Marc Rich, the billionaire crook that Bill Clinton famously pardoned at the end of his second term.

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