We sailed from St Bart’s to St Kitts on a picture perfect day. Reaching under genoa alone we made fast time in a good breeze. Blue sky and a sea that looks blue or inky black depending on where you look.
We passed between Statia and the top of St Kitts to check in at Basseterre on the leeward side of the island.
The Anchorage in Statia is not very well protected and the winds at this time of year can make it an uncomfortable place to be. We hope to take the boat to Statia and Saba later in the spring when the weather should be more suitable.
Basseterre is the capital of St Kitts and Nevis. Dominated by the Cruise Ship dock and shopping area, the waterfront is typical of many Caribbean ports and it is the worse for it. I took a long walk around the town and found it all a bit sad. Once you get out of walking range of the typical cruise ship passenger (which is to say not far) the town seems to have lost its way, all the resources have gone to serving the cruise ships leaving little for the local population. We were the only visiting yacht on the day we arrived.
The next day we moved to White House Bay in the south end of the island. The Bay is part of a major development that is opening up the southern end of the island for tourism. Christophe Harbour currently has a super yacht harbour in the salt pond, a hotel that is close to finished and a large area for housing. The housing seems to be sold as time shares with a 1/10 share going for $450,000 and up, we did not see prices for just the property but millions will be the starting point. Though they seem to be starting with the super rich, there are plans for a conventional marina in later phases and this has the potential to be a boon to cruisers.
The Salt Plage Beach Bar in White House Bay is charming, if a little expensive. They provide internet service we could pick up in the bay at least when they were open.
The weather here is not perfect, we get rain most days but it does make for great rainbows
We visited the nearby super yacht marina for coffee and Wi-Fi, they were running an event for the crews so the harbour was quite full and this was our view at coffee.
We started to see gusty winds from the NE making White House Bay a leeshore. (A lee shore is where the wind is blowing the boat directly onto the shore, a problem with the anchor would be very serious.) We decided to see if the anchorage in Nevis just to the south would work. A quick look-see at the boats bucking wildly off Nevis sent us back to the safety of Major’s Bay on the southern tip of St Kitts.
Major’s Bay is also part of the Christophe Harbour development, but as of yet there is no activity save for a sign. It is home to this Red Green creation, a small dock and an old set of airstairs cobbled together to get access to the sunken barge. We asked some locals to see if they new the story as to why someone would do this but no one seemed to know.
The was also the where we suffered our first, and hopefully last emergency of this trip. The wind had been shifting and getting more gusty through the day. We had been off the boat for a few hours, cycling over to the super yacht marina, we arrived back at the boat, Kathleen was having a nap and I was reading when the anchor alarm went off. We use an app on my phone and our tablet to make sure our anchor is working. It has a habit of giving a false alarm either because the GPS has lost its signal or I have made a mistake entering the anchor set up. This time I picked up the tablet and I could see us drifting to shore at almost 0.5 knots. The wind was very gusty and we were in the middle of a small squall, the gusts were well over 30 knots
This was a surprise, we had anchored 2 days before with lots of scope, and the anchor should have been digging in more, not letting go.
We got the engine started, got the anchor up and headed out of the bay. Just as we got underway, the engine started to splutter and slow, after a few seconds it stopped. So there we were with no engine and no sails up just off a lee shore in a 30 knot squall.
Thankfully we had a way out, we rolled out a tiny patch of genoa to get us moving out to sea. Meanwhile I realized that we had emptied one of our 2 fuel tanks and so we had run out of fuel. On a diesel engine, running out of fuel means that you have air in the injection system. I quickly switched over to the second fuel tank and then bled the fuel system. Kathleen tried the engine, nothing! OK, think, think, OK, wait a second and try again. This time the engine spluttered into life before slowly settling down to its normal happy beat. We motored up the island to a better anchorage at Frigate Bay for the night.
The next day the winds had dropped and the swell was much reduced, we headed south to Nevis. We picked up a mooring ball off Pinney’s beach and were settling in when we heard visitors. We were just in front of a Hallberg-Rassy that was flying a Canadian flag and the owners dropped by to see another Canadian boat. Bill and Wendy introduced themselves, it turns out they are from Ottawa and that I raced against them 10 years ago. They are BYC members so I had never met them. There are a lot of cruisers from Ottawa, more than I would imagine.
Bill and Wendy provided a lot of tips for our visit to Nevis, from No more than 3 Killer B’s at Sunshine’s to directions to an old plantation just up the hill.
Killer B’s, the signature drink at Sunshine’s, the local beach bar, is rightly famous, but they are deadly, I had one, plus about half of Kathleen’s, I am a total light weight if I had had 2 I would have been totally smashed.
Our walk up to the plantation was great, there are enough remains of the buildings to get an idea of what it might have looked like when slaves worked the hillsides above and below the house. We explored the paths an roads for a couple of hours before heading back to the boat.
Kathleen has already written up the great bike tour we did around the island.
Overall we enjoyed our time here, Nevis was our favourite, but we need to explore St Kitts some more.
Next up – Montserrat!