Saturday, 31 May 2014

Two Islands, One Country ….. May 2014

18 – 26 May 2014:  Basseterre, St Kitts to Charlestown, Nevis - 17 09N 62 37W

A Touch of Colonial Caribbean

St Kitts and Nevis are the oldest British colonies in the Caribbean. The Brits arrived there in 1623 closely followed by the French. They briefly worked together to massacre the local Caribs, 2000 in one day were rounded up and slaughtered.  A score even the Spanish would have been proud of.  Then the British gained complete control as a result of defeating the French in Europe.
After a reasonably comfortable night anchored in the commercial port area at Basseterre, St Kitts we dinghied ashore to check into this 2 island country of St Kitts & Nevis.  Formalities were easy enough, and we were free to explore this small town in no time at all. 

P5190005First we had to weave our way through the toy town cruise ship shopping area, they don’t get many ships here though, so the stores were not as exclusive as further north. 

Then we hit the “real” Basseterre, old wooden colonial buildings lined the streets, most in urgent need of repair, many about to crumble, the occasional one restored to its former glory – all making a very interesting blend.  

We circumnavigated Independence Square, a park in desperate need of lawn mowing and weeding which was once the site of slave auctions.  It was fringed by more buildings that would have looked very handsome in their day but that was decades ago. P5190006 The town felt safe and was reasonably clean but it felt like tropical decay had set in, it seemed there was no enthusiasm, skills or money to give it the boost it needed.

We found a spot for morning lattes, and didn’t quite get what we wanted but it was espresso coffee on a crumbling Caribbean Island so there were no complaints.  We carried on along the waterfront, past a few outdoor food stalls and that was Basseterre.   On the way back to the dinghy we sniffed out an excellent roti stand for lunch, they were so big we had the remaining chicken curry for dinner, yummy.

More Developers Dreams

We moved about 4 miles south in the afternoon down to a much more comfortable and scenic anchorage at White House Bay.   Now this was an interesting place, ashore was a small pebbly beach and busy construction site.  Developers have bought a huge area on the south of St Kitts encompassing Christophe Harbour a large inland lagoon area.  They are cutting through the isthmus to dredge access into the lagoon and plan to build a large marina, shopping village and community of houses here.  But will that bring the boats, and will the houses sell?? 

Meanwhile in our little bay, which would be at least a half hour walk from where the marina was planned, the first venture was nearly complete. P5210027 They have done a great job of this small bar /restaurant and built it from recycled corrugated iron sheeting.  It already has that well aged, authentic, dare I say rusty look about it and its due to open  01 June.  They have done a lovely job, there is a solid timber dock built, coconut palms have been planted and sway in the breeze but who will be their customers?
We made use of their dock and took the bikes ashore and cycled down to the southern beach of Cockershell Bay.  A pleasant enough spot with a grand vista over neighbouring Nevis, a small sandy beach and shacky beach bar with espresso machine, bliss!, oh and the ever watchful resident monkey.  But there was no accommodation down here, all clientele must come by car, boat or us hardy few on bikes.

P5210022We took a detour on our way back and found one of the best beaches we had seen in a long while, a small crescent shape with dramatic volcanic cliffs at one end and large boulders the other, clean soft golden sand glistened in the sun and gentle waves lapped on the shore.
Amazingly we were the only ones there, so we left the bikes and went for a therapeutic walk along the shoreline, just wonderful.

Now onto Nevis

It was only a few miles over to Nevis so we left in company with Truant 3  mid afternoon and headed across.  We passed on the first two anchorages and kept making our way along the coast until we came to the mooring field just north of Charlestown, Nevis’ small main town.   P5230073It was flat enough (trying desperately to avoid rolly ones), close to town and Nevis’ volcanic peak made a spectacular backdrop.  Our new home for a few nights.

Into the Steamy Jungle

Nevis is a very lush and green island, all the slopes fall away from the central volcanic peak which remained shrouded in cloud for most of our stay, they don’t call this a tropical rain forest for nothing!  One day we took a local bus (minivan) to one of the small boutique hotels set high in the jungle. 


The Rockland Hotel is housed in old sugar cane plantation stone buildings, it is beautifully restored and the surrounding gardens and view out over the windy Atlantic ocean were stunning.  We treated ourselves to a light lunch on the shady patio then moved into exercise mode before we needed a siesta!


We did “The Source” hike up into the jungle, dense vegetation shaded the path and kept it almost cool enough.  The hike follows the water pipeline put in by the early settlers to control the water flow from natural pools high up the volcanic down to the town, and just goes up, up and up some more! 

Over the next couple of days we managed walks along the sandy beach, supped the local cocktail a “Killer Bee” at the nearby Sunshine Bar with fellow cruisers while watching the sun dip over the horizon, found a sports bar for skipper to watch the Football Champions League Final in Portugal and even fitted in a local game of Twenty 20 Cricket where we sat with our Canadian friends and did our very best to explain the rules of Cricket – not an easy task!!!

From Cloudy Volcanoes to Steaming Volcanoes

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Finally Heading South ….. May 2014

11 – 20 May 2014:  St Thomas, USVI to Basseterre, St Kitts – 17 17N 62 42W

DSC_0078Playing the Waiting Game

After the festivities of the Carnival ended the anchorage at Charlotte Amalie emptied out rapidly, yachts headed north for the American Summer Season, many started heading south to Grenada and Trinidad for the Hurricane Season and the rest of us just stayed – we were waiting. 

Our watermaker drive assembly arrived and skipper installed it.  Although the watermaker was now functioning properly the quality of our water was not as good as it should be so we decided to replace the membranes.  P5120011 We had asked the local dealer if they had our membranes in stock when we ordered the drive assembly and they had said yes so we hadn’t ordered them in case we didn’t need them (at $1000NZ we hoped we wouldn’t need them).  So along we went to purchase two and whoops, no they only have one in stock but they had ordered more and should have them in a day or two.

We decided to wait, we wanted to get the watermaker sorted and we had more jobs to keep us busy, so wait we did.  Meanwhile Rob and Sarah were still waiting for their ship to arrive to take Serafina deck cargo back to the UK (see footnote below) so we kept each other amused as best we could!


P5030084Our First Tropical Wave

Our days were busy, the ever present “to do list” finally had a few items ticked off – all the shrouds/chain plates and some stanchions were rebedded at deck level (a time consuming and fiddly job done every few years to keep the water above deck and out of our lockers!).  P5080002Our gear cable was removed and checked for signs of wear – we hadn’t taken it out before and getting to grips with just how it went back together kept us both entertained or was that baffled for some time. 

Meanwhile the watermaker membranes had been placed on backorder, not what we wanted to hear but there was a Tropical Wave weather system heading our way so we weren’t going anywhere anyway. The weather was ghastly for 4 days, it rained and rained – who needs a watermaker anyway!!  The sewing machine was set up and whirred away for days.  Badly needed new covers for our outdoor chairs were made, cockpit cushions and squabs were refilled for more comfort, broken zippers on our dodger windows were replaced, a host of little jobs I had been putting off all got completed. P5120002

The Waiting Is Over

Eventually the weather settled and the sun came out again.  Our watermaker membranes arrived, Serafinas ship did not.  Skipper worked hard on refitting the watermaker, we flicked the switch and now have a fully functional, much quieter watermaker making perfect water again – job done.  Meanwhile Sarah had been very busy emptying lockers onboard Serafina and a huge food hamper came our way.  It was just like Christmas, all sorts of goodies now fill Balvenies food locker, lot of treats in store for us, thanks again Rob and Sarah for all the bits and pieces that now have Balvenie as their new home. 

P5160001We had our final farewell dinner ashore in Charlotte Amalie (we had already had 4 farewells but we just kept coming back to each other!), Serafina still didn’t have a firm arrival date for their ship and we needed to get moving.  This time it truly was goodbye.

Time To Knock Some Miles Off 

We left the US Virgin Islands the next day and sailed, (to windward of course)  back to Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands and just stayed a night in the pretty, quiet and flat anchorage of Great Harbour

We had a weather window to move southeast 130 miles to St Kitts, the best opportunity we could see for the foreseeable future.P5120004  There was so much more we wanted to see and do in the BVIs but we need to start moving south also.  Hopefully we will return early next season to enjoy more cruising in these lovely sheltered waters.  Meanwhile we set sail southeast in light winds, hard on the wind all the way.  It was a slow overnight trip but we eventually dropped anchor late afternoon in the commercial port area of Basseterre, St Kitts.  It was a rolly unappealing anchorage but the town anchorage was far more rolly and a reasonable nights sleep was much needed.  So we cracked open the rum bottle, had an early dinner and rocked n rolled ourselves off to sleep

Welcome Back To The Eastern Caribbean



Serafina is For Sale

Serafina is a Najad 46, Centre Cockpit Sloop, owned by Rob and Sarah since new in 2007.  They have kept her in immaculate condition and maintained her to the highest standards – she is, quite simply, a beautiful boat, inside and out.  She comes complete with an army of extras which has her totally set up for coastal and offshore cruising.  They have cruised the Med, crossed the Atlantic, sailed the Caribbean and journeyed up the American coast in her. Like Balvenie she is a serious offshore bluewater cruiser. P4300096

If you have dreams of selling up and sailing off over the horizon and just can’t wait till Balvenie becomes available then Serafina could be the boat for you.  She is being shipped (one day!!!) to Southampton, and will be lying in Lymington on the English south coast awaiting her new owners.  Check out Serafinas website for more details.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Carnival Time in Charlotte Amalie ….. May 2014

1 – 10 May 2014:  Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas – 18 20N 64 55W


Time To Hit The Streets

We so rarely return to previous anchorages that when we do we seem to enjoy them even more.  Knowing where to anchor and take the dinghy, where the supermarket and laundry are, are generally new experiences for us so familiarity is always a treat. 

We were back in St Thomas for a few reasons, a major one was to try and have the drive assembly on our water maker repaired.  Unfortunately the cheap option of repairing was not possible so we had to order a new one to come from the States.  

But we had picked a good time to be here waiting, we had our British friends Rob and Sarah on Serafina anchored close by to play with and it was Carnival Week with outdoor parties, festivities and parades happening daily.  Lots of other yachts were coming and going, we got a chance to meet Keith and Pam off New Zealand yacht Savarna where we had a lovely evening onboard feasting on a rather decedent selection of potluck deserts and watching the fireworks display.

P5030092 P5030091


Work, Play, Work, PlayP5020169

We used our waiting time well, getting small jobs done onboard that we normally would have left for the down season but we spent hours ashore too, watching the parades.  One day we saw about 100 floats go by with youngsters in all manner of costumes parading along, some singing and dancing, a few beauty queens were all dressed up and just waving at the crowds as they drove by in someone's convertible, but for us our favourites were the steel bands, they were magnificent. 

The parties went long into the night, certainly not a quiet time at anchor but we tried our best to stay in the spirit of things, Carnival comes but once a year and that was why we were here!


The Grand Finale

On the last day it was the adults parade, it didn’t flow nearly as well as the youngsters had, so we spent our time walking up and down rather than waiting for the floats to come to us.  The weather was very hot and sticky and there was minimal shade.  The costumes were excellent, feathers and frills with skimpy tops and bottoms was the attire of choice, I’ll let the photos explain a little better!!



Lets not forget the spectators, rather an interesting assortment ….


And Then ….. The Carnival Was Over