at anchor off Pinney's Beach, Nevis
March - Antigua to Nevis
- 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.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
March - Nevis
- 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
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..."
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.
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
|| 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.
one was lovely. Just a few rooms, original antiques, and only
US$300-700 / night. What a bargain.
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.
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
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.
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.
March - St. Kitts & Statia
- 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.
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...
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
March - Statia to Saint Martin
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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