Sunday, May 29, 2016

Nevis of the St. Kitts & Nevis

Beautiful St Kitts
Let's back track a little:
While sitting at the Old Gin House in Statia, The Captain first mentioned going home to meet the new grandbaby and new daughter-in-law.  Hmm.  I start doing mental calculations of airline/hotel/rental car on top of the bottom paint/recovering interior cushions needed for the boat vs the cost of hauling out instead of living in the marina.  "We'll buy an RV."  Huh?  This solves the hotel, rental car, and bumming off of family and friends while going to Doctor appointments and cleaning out the storage unit.  We can stay awhile to make it worth the expense.  And of course the cat can go with us.  It can be our Plan B.  Our little summer cabin in the States during hurricane season.  I begin scouring RV blogs about campgrounds, RV parks, and "boondocking" while The Captain researches RVs.  The plan hatches to fly into Miami (which would have been our layover on the way to STL anyway), rent a car and drive to Green Cove Springs to establish FL residency (my Driver's License is expiring soon) and hopefully find an RV on the way.  Brilliant.

And a few more pictures from Statia:

Many old structures in the Caribbean where built from the ballast stones of cargo ships from Europe.  These look like ballast stones, maybe?

A old structure built around a really old tree?!

"Upper" town Statia from the Fort

More fort

View of the bay from the Fort (where in the world is My Captain, Oh Captain?)

Glad we didn't pick up THAT mooring ball!

Departing Statia for St Kitts.  Before the shit hit the fan...
OK, Statia to Nevis:
We depart our mooring for forecast winds out of the east at 10-15 kts.  We start out motoring for the first 30 minutes, dodging the dive moorings on this end of the island before unfurling the genoa.  However, as we clear the island, the venturi effect between Statia and Nevis becomes apparent.  The wind is 20 kts and we are bucking 6 ft waves for the next 7 miles.  We have St. Kitts & Nevis in sight and by 12:15 pm, we are in the lee with smoother water but the winds are still a squirrely and 20 kts gusting 28.  After observing other sailboats headed northbound, The Captain furls the genoa and motors closer towards shore but the winds are still all over the place.  We consider stopping in St Kitts instead of pounding on to our intended anchorage in Nevis, but that would involve stopping in Basseterre, the cruise ship port, to clear customs, so we carry on.

Southern end of Statia's limestone face
Our mooring ball in Charlestown, Nevis.  Nevis peak, 3200 ft.
As we near Charlestown, I take the helm and head towards mooring field on the town side.  As we get closer, we hear "Odin, Odin.  Kelly Nicole" on the radio.  They inform us the ball in front of them is a park mooring.  Someone JUST left.  As soon as we're tied up, we hop on the internet and find a picture of Odin is already posted to Facebook.  Apparently, Kelly Nicole is at the local drinking establishment, and had called us on their handheld.  Confused!

Sunset over Kelly Nicole in calm waters.  Finally.
We catch them on their way back and hilarity ensues.  Yes, The Captain gave Paul his last cold Guiness.  I gave Deb some secret chocolate from the fridge--"Seriously, where does that keep coming from?"

Stats:  Total time 5:54, Avg speed 5.1 kts, total mileage 30.3.  Motor sail genoa & 1 engine.

Nevis to Montserrat Guadeloupe:
We had planned on leaving the next morning for Montserrat, but after reading the latest Chris Parker forecast (the weather window has been shoved back again!) we decided to do an overnight to Guadeloupe.  I'm not happy.  NO MORE OVERNIGHTS!  And I wanted to see Montserrat, so begrudgingly we head out 5:30 pm (hoping to be clear of the island by dark to avoid all the fish traps), waving to Kelly Nicole who isn't leaving for another half an hour.  I hand over the helm and head below, trying to grab a little internet before we leave range and to take a nap.  No go.  "How is it down there?"  Terrible.  "Do you want to go back?"  No, keeping going.  Roll over.  Finally, just before sunset I pop out to see where the waves are coming from that are causing this terrible ride.  We've cleared the island and Montserrat is visible up ahead.  "The waves are coming from everywhere.  I'm seriously thinking of going back."  He's right.  It will be 18 hours of this.  Sometimes we're down to 3 kts which will be more like 20 hours.  Our bail-out is Montserrat which would be a DEEP unfamiliar anchorage after dark.  We won't be getting any sleep.  The winds are supposed to kick up tomorrow and Nevis is a nice protected mooring field.  Yep, let's go back.  The Captain whips us around as I grab a hold of something and all of a sudden it's calm.  Quiet.  I look over and we're doing 6 kts!  Wow.  Sailing downwind instead of into the wind.  "We should be doing this!"  The Captain hands over the mike to relay to Kelly Nicole our intentions.  They inform us they've already taken a couple waves over the bow and aren't having fun either but are going to keep going.  We wish them the best, and before we know it, their AIS does a 180.  The beat us back to the mooring field, and have a spotlight on our mooring for us when we arrive.  The winds are calmer and we have time to watch a little TV before our normal bedtime.  A calm anchorage.  Bliss.

The Captain heads into customs the next day and they tear up our departure, and charge us $21 for another week on the mooring.  (We'll end up being here 9 more days.)

At some point the Captain lobs out the idea of heading back to Puerto Rico to haul out (which came to him when we turned around to head back).  Interesting.  I pull out our insurance policy to confirm the fine print says we can be in the box from July 15th to November 1st, but our deductible is increased.  He begins to research various haul outs between Nevis and Puerto Rico, including one in St Kitts ($288/month but the cost of the airline tickets would negate the savings).  We decide to let fate help us make the decision so we send emails to our top three haul outs and then another to our insurance company to see what would happen if we amended our hurricane plan.

Our favorite outdoor breakfast spot

The best part of our life is sharing a dinghy dock with the local fisherman

We were lazy on Saturday.  Everything was closed on Sunday, so on Monday we head into town to find the laundromat.  A local fisherman on the dock informs us it's a holiday and everything is closed.  We head out for a walk anyway.  On the way back, a local woman stops to chat.  She recommends walking out to the "bubbly pool", stopping at the grocery on the way.  The grocery is open?!  Well, yeah.  Grocery store!  (Neither local can tell us what holiday it is.  "Bank holiday."  I'm later told it was Whit Monday, like Whit Sunday?  Confused.)

We make a few trips into town and it's is growing on us.  The Cafe is our regular stop then on to the grocery.  The locals are friendly, even yelling "Hello!  Hello!  Welcome to Nevis!" while driving down the road, a little unnerving at first.  "Huh?"  "I think they were talking to us."

We hear from Puerto del Rey, our first choice, confirming an opening.  I start filling out reams of paperwork.  Our insurance broker asks for an amended hurricane plan (more forms), which a couple days later, results in a blessing from our insurance carrier.  Just in time.  We'll be headed NORTH back to Statia in tomorrow's weather window!

The people of the Caribbean are very colorful, but Nevis is voted best dressed and a trip to the local department store reveals the men's VanHeusen selection...see?  I told you!

Moorahme arrives from St. Kitt's White House anchorage.  They do a slow pass, hollering over plans to get together and then head down to the Pinner's Beach mooring field.  They arrive in their dinghy a short time later, handing over a gift of a bottle of rum, then we follow them into town so they can visit customs.  A few beverages are had at Da Beer, including a chicken curry roti that Mr. Moorahme deems AMAZING!  We head on to Wilma's for lunch.  Wilma used to be a Chef at the Plantation on the island and then opened this elegant restaurant in downtown Nevis, serving local Caribbean dishes.  As cruisers you can clean us up but you can't quite take us out.  There was only one other table of guests, some refined well-dressed locals who were clearly amused by our conversation.  They may or may not have overheard the following:
"I haven't been to a restaurant with walls in a long time."  
"It feels a little confining, like wearing tennis shoes instead of flip flops."
"I miss the chickens and lizards."

Seriously, the food was excellent.  Mrs. Moorahme declared it the best chicken soup she'd ever had, including her own.  There were no prices on the menu but it ended up $33 for two people!  What?!  No pictures of the food?  Yeah, I know.  Too much chit chat.

and beautiful Nevis sunsets

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