Families of tourists and locals frequented this protected cove to enjoy the lake-like calmness of the water, gently lapping at the shore line. Small children would run in and out without a care while parents looked on from nearby. Volleyball courts stood at the ready under the shade of a palm grove. Patrick’s Tropical Wave was busy setting up umbrellas with lounge chairs. The restaurant bustled with patrons enjoying meals, drinks and conversation. Next door, paddle boards could be rented for a nominal fee. Further down was another shack offering water sport rentals and a quick boat ride for surfers to get out into the curls beyond the protective coral barrier.
Sometimes locals could be seen fishing whether by boat or along the beach. In the other direction, a giant blue floating dock sectioned off an area for swimming lessons for local children. The curve of the bay continued around in a U shape to face all the activity on the rest of the beach. Sea grapes created natural cabanas where small groups set up towels and picnics. The cove finished off as a peninsula jutting out against the open sea. When waves crashed into the very end part, a hole in the stone forced the water to spout out like the blow hole of a whale.
All these memories haunt us now. What made Le Galion very special while offering shelter from the wind, has changed into a new reality of rooted up trees and toppled palms, rubble, and the most shocking – a new shape. In between where the swimming lessons took place and the Tropical Wave umbrellas ended, the beach is now divided with a gouged out area. Here a new channel has been carved connecting the bay to the salt pond. No more strolls along the entire bay. No more allowing the children to explore the shallow waters edge. No, this newly hewn section is deep, chest high for an adult and it is too wide to jump across.
We sat on a fallen palm eating a sandwich taking it all in. We were surrounded by raw beauty. Off in the distance St. Barths still rises out of the ocean; a blue gray color. Anchored in the Bay close to shore were two fishing boats. A couple of families were set up on the beach. The children were running in the sand. A local sat under a tarp canopy set up in familiar fashion. We were not alone, although the place has a solitary feel. There’s an affinity attached to Le Galion. With a bit of clean up and a willingness to once again rebuild, it can become a thriving place with the vitality that its visitors bring.