Redwings Round the World

Nevis, St. Kitts, & Statia

1 - 4 March, 2001

 

 
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Redwings at anchor off Pinney's Beach, Nevis

1 March - Antigua to Nevis  

Aaron - Up at 0700 and left English Harbor at 0730.  Flat calm.  Its been calm over the past 24 hours for the first time since we arrived in the Caribbean almost three months ago!  Until yesterday, we never saw one full hour where the wind did not rise above 10 knots at least once.

We had a pretty uneventful motor North West towards Nevis.  Montserrat, a very active volcanic island, was smoking off to port for much of the way.  However, we did have a bit of luck fishing.  About halfway over, while I was taking a nap, Colleen called down to me F-I-S-H  "whaaaaa???" F-I-S-H!!!  That got me going and five minutes later we had a nice five pound bonito (little tuna) on deck.  I quickly bled him and tossed him over the side tied up by the tail to bleed out and cool off.  Soon after, we landed another slightly smaller guy.  The killer Bequia lure has now caught 5 fish and has more than paid for itself.

Just as we were turning North around the southern point of Nevis, whack - I heard a mega hit on one of the fixed (non fishing reel) lines.  The meenie greeny lure.  I saw a large and very colorful dorado jump high and spin in the sunlight behind the boat, but when I went to grab the line, the tension was gone.  The knot I had tied in the 150 pound test had not held.  I'm not surprised, the line if really too fat to cinch properly.  We need to get some large crimps.  Glad to know we can still catch though on the short lines and that the green and gold squids we have had so much luck with since Hong Kong will work in the Caribbean as well.

We dropped anchor at sundown after motoring the whole 55 miles to Pinney's beach.  Beautiful anchorage.  Few boats, 5-8 meters of gently sloping sand up to a 1/2 mile off  the beach - we were able to do one of our fastest anchors ever.

Nearby was a huge luxury vessel with a helicopter on top (ok, seen that), a lobster boat-sized picnic boat on deck (cool), and a 40 foot fully rigged racer / cruiser sailboat!  That is new.  I am impressed.  Who are these people?

We most of one of the fish for dinner.  The last bonito we had in Tobago Cays was not too good (bit gamey) but as I really worked to make sure to get all of the blood out early and filleted out only the lightest meat, this one was good.

2 March - Nevis  

Colleen - Without many expectations, we headed off for the day early.  The only vague advice we had from other boaters was, "see the botanical gardens".... we dingied into town and cleared customs in what looked like a real customs warehouse.  The town was surprisingly sweet, with stone colonial buildings, little greens and squares.  Mostly everyone seemed pleasant and relaxed, and there was a refreshing absence of  tourists.  After customs we had to go to the police station for "immigration".  Next to the police station was a brightly colored gingerbread building, "Cafe des Artistes".  We could resist wandering for a coffee and juice in their back garden after looking through the artwork.  

We took the public bus up to the road leading to the botanical gardens.  The bus driver (van really) was very friendly.  Another one of the passengers was obviously escorting someone from another island to their house, and between the bus driver and the passenger showing her friend around, every even vaguely noteworthy site along the way was mentioned and pointed out.  "There is the waterworks department,  there is Sylvia's son's business, etc, etc..."  When we passed the hospital, it was of course pointed out to us.  I responded that I'll remember it in case I get sick. The bus driver came back with a genuine and melodious Caribbean drawl,, "Now just trust in God, and you won't have to worry about anything..."

We alighted about a mile from the botanical gardens and started our walk down.  We actually found them and their US$9 entry fee/head rather unexciting (and didn't pay to go in), or maybe we just feel we've seen enough spectacular "free" botanical gardens after 10 years in Asia.

We walked up to one of the plantation homes "Montpellier" that was converted into a small hotel.  This one's claim to fame was that Lady Di stayed at it.  

A taxi driver saw us walking up the hill to the main road after she had dropped some guests at the hotel.  She generously offered us a free lift.  We walked on from the main road to the Hermitage Hotel, another converted estate.  

This one was lovely.  Just a few rooms, original antiques, and only US$300-700 / night.  What a bargain.

Onward... another forty minutes of walking brought us to two more converted estates, the last where we were to have lunch.  We felt we had earned our house specials; the lobster sandwiches, having walked so far up hill, and somehow managed to avoid paying for any taxis or guides the whole way...  Lunch was served on a stone patio with a spectacular view of the water.  Local "nature" punctuated the meal with a hummingbird cradled on our sugar bowl trying to steal some sugar, a large lizard at our feet, and two goats walking through the tables.

The only non-natural sound was that of a helicopter circling the volcanic peak above.  The search was on for a Ukrainian (hmmm) hiker that mysteriously disappeared while hiking alone two days previous.  The Inn owner seemed very distressed about it.  

We managed to snag a ride back the entire way from the hotel with a visiting artist.  It was like clockwork.  The maid at the hotel wished us good luck getting a bus back just as the artist walked by and said, "I'm going to town, let me give you a ride".  We really enjoyed our day.  Between, buses, free rides and roadside pedestrians we met along the way, we felt we got the best of Nevis as the fortunate recipients of genuine kindness and friendliness.  All the kids we passed walking on the mountain road heading home from school for lunch were strikingly friendly and polite.  

We saw another Peterson 44 at the anchorage, Moon Slipper, from Canada, and went to say hi, then into the beach.  We walked along past the Four Seasons Hotel, which was probably one of the ugliest and least impressive five star hotels I've ever seen.  Drinks with Moon Slipper (very nice people), cooked up the rest of our fish, then to bed.

3 March - St. Kitts & Statia   

Colleen - Rather a full day!  We left before 8 am, for Basse Terre, the main town of St. Kitts, about 11 miles from our Nevis Anchorage.  Our friends on Carlena had coined it "St. Pitts", and I have to say, I endorse the name now.  The anchorage was in an industrial-type deep sea port.  ROLLY sums it up well.  Aaron and I quickly concluded that a few hour stop in town was more than enough before heading up to the island of Statia for the night, part of the Dutch Antilles.

After checking in with customs, and very rudely discovering that it was actually Saturday and not Friday as we had been under the false impression of for some time, we dingied across the harbor to the main town.  We entered the "marina" which is basically a cement wall that has been partially destroyed by the last hurricane.  We tied up our dingy at what looked like the appropriate place.  A security guard came over and said it was a US$5 charge to leave our dingy there (just for 2 hours).  This didn't go down too well on principle alone (even if we weren't cheapskates).  Aaron had spotted that the only boat in the entire marina was an Oyster 48 from Portland Maine.  He dingied over, introduced himself to Scott the owner, and besides making a new pal, we finagled tying our dingy up to his boat for a few hours for free.  Scott toured us around the boat and even gave us a free CD (he is a jazz musician) of his work.  How is that for a mega score - I'm listening to it now...

On to Basse Terre.  The only real mission we had was to visit the Pest Control specialist mentioned in the cruising guide.  Time to combat our "roach" problem that seems to have mysteriously attacked Redwings and practically every boat we know that has passed through the Caribbean.

For some reason the whole town seemed to smell like fried chicken.  I'm not big on regurgitated grease, so this didn't go down to well with me.  There was a big and obnoxious cruise ship in town, and hundreds of cruise ship passengers descending on and swarming around a very small Caribbean town for only a few hours is never a very nice place to be.  It kind of brings out the worst in the local/foreigner interaction gamut.  Everyone thinks you want an overpriced taxi ride somewhere, or a horrendously ugly souvenir...Walking into a Pest Control store usually throws them off though...

Unfortunately, since its now Saturday, the Pest control specialist seems to be off boozing till Monday, and we are left with the clerk who's usefulness resembles the secretary from Carol Burnett show skits.  She hadn't even heard of boric acid.... The whole place was kind of scary though, like a laboratory of death.  Each section was broken down by pest type (ants, fleas, mosquitoes, roaches etc...), and the client could chose from a dazzling array of murder weapons.

After loading up, we moved onto do a few more useful errands.  I was getting really hungry, and anxious to get out of this place.  Hostile town, hostile dingy dock, and hostile anchorage as far as I was concerned.  We finally made it back, pulled anchor, and by 1pm were heading off to Statia 22 miles away.

We arrived in Statia around 4 pm after a sweetly calm sail on a beam reach with only the head sail up.  We took a mooring (this is a small one horse harbor, and it seemed the best idea for many reasons) and rushed off to customs before they closed.  Mr. Customs of Statia definitely ranks the nicest and most genuinely enjoyable customs officer in the Caribbean (or maybe we're just on the rebound from Basse Terre).  After that we climbed the great hill to town, its all overlooking a cliff, overlook the anchorage.  We checked in with the police.  Sounded like someone was being questioned for something while we were there.  "What time did you arrive home last night?"  It all sounded very dramatic, no more the less because there are only 1,600 people on the island.

Statia's big claim to fame is they were the first port to recognize America's sovereignty by giving an American ship a gun salute as it sailed in in 1776.  Unfortunately, the British got pissed at this, and declared war on Holland and attacked Statia based on this "misjudgment" alone, which led to their permanent decline from the most active trading port in the Caribbean.

We wandered around the odd town as best we could, then found ourselves at the "King's Well" guesthouse / restaurant.  Nightly, the couple that runs it creates a family style atmosphere.  They really open their home to their few guests with great home-cooked food, and honor system serve yourself at the bar policy, and lots of animals around.  Besides their five Macaws, they seem to have goats, cats, and dogs - and that's just what we saw from the dining room.  Its impossible to eat there with out getting to know every other patron and the proprietors.  We had a really nice stay, just what the doctor ordered for tired hungry sailors.

4 March - Statia to Saint Martin   

Aaron - Great sail to Saint Martin - 10-15 on the beam with small swells made for a great passage.  Even though we kept the double reef in, we still made 6-7 knots the whole way.  Wow, its really becoming clear that we just don't need the full main in any kind of wind unless its very tight.

Mid-way across, we could see Statia off the stern, Saba to port, St. Barts off to starboard, and St. Martin ahead.  Blue skies, puffy clouds.  Hooked a small barracuda, probably ran about 5 pounds, but I shook it off the hook as I can never get anyone else to eat cuda due to paranoia about ciguatera.  Fish karma remains good, however, which is a plus.

As we neared St. Martin, we could see the fleet of boats participating in the Heineken Regatta - one of the "major" annual Caribbean sailing events - coming around the southeast end of the island in a blaze of color under spinnakers.

Simpson's Bay, our landfall, was the finish line for the last race of the regatta.  Mayhem.  Hundreds of boats anchored on rope rodes swinging crazily, dingies whizzing round at top speed, horns hooting.  Total madness.

At about 1600 we moved closer in towards the bridge that would open at 1730 (according to our info) to let us and other boats into the inner lagoon.  We were not the only boat with this idea.  Too crowded for us and after one attempt, that put us about 1/2 a boat length away from our neighbor, we brought in the anchor and moved away from the pack to re-anchor and form a plan.

We quickly put the dingy in and put on the motor, and I whizzed in towards the bridge and customs / immigration to try to check in and get info.  Luckily check in was quick as we were informed that the bridge would open at 1630 as well as 1730 today to accommodate the racers.  I zipped back to the boat and we again hauled up the anchor and headed for the bridge.  There was a long line and boats were already going through.  We came in from the side which was probably naughty, but that was the direction we were coming from, and squeezed into a spot.  Bow to stern we moved through the narrow channel and were bombed by water balloons as we went under the bridge.

We were pretty disoriented when we got into the lagoon, the depth was only 10-7 feet under the keel and there are a few unmarked four foot spots somewhere out there, but eventually we snaked our way to the middle of the main pod of  boats and stumbled across Pete on Gondwona - a boat we knew from Spain and St. Lucia.   We were afraid to anchor in the big hole in front of Gondwona as we assumed there was a good reason no one was there - an old wreck or shallow spot - but Pete said it was ok so we dropped the hook.  Beat most of the boats in TG and got a good spot.

After settling in, we took a long re-con dingy ride through the lagoon trying to get a feel for where the various marinas are (we may go into a marina tomorrow as we need to do a lot of cleaning) and to see if we could find our friends on Gigolo and Tango II.  Simpson Bay Lagoon is totally enclosed and accessible only by two bridges to the sea - one on the southern Dutch-controlled side (where we came in) and another on the northern French-controlled side.  The lagoon is about four miles long and one to two miles wide, so its a pretty large area.  We whizzed all around and even out the French side and into Marigot Bay - the outside anchorage on the French side - but could not spot anyone we knew.

On the return trip, I spotted a boat that looked like Gigolo not far from Redwings and sure enough it was!  Strange we did not see it when we arrived.  Hard sometimes to see something right in front of you.  We last saw Gary and Dorothy in Gib, but keep in touch on the radio.  They have similar traveling tastes/styles to us so we always get their opinions and advice on the places we are hitting along the track.  No sign of T2 though (Jim, Anna, and new baby crew Tikopia), but Gary and Dorothy confirmed they have been in St. Martin, but currently have a charter, so I guess we'll catch up with them when we come back through Simpson Bay in a week or so. 

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Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved by Aaron Henderson and Colleen Duggan