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

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