Sunday, August 16, 2015


As do many of our posts, this one could have had several different titles. I already used "Sailing Sucks" (parts one and two, no less) so that was off the table. "Rhumb line, Squall line... Same Line" was another. "Get Me Off This Boat!" was another, and "Saralane For Sale", was put aside after we had a quiet night or two post passage.

I've opted instead for the simplest one, "Nevis" which focuses on our short but really pleasant visit to Nevis and mostly overlooks what was undoubtedly the worst sail we've ever had. We hadn't been to Nevis before and while we were waiting out the wind (we thought) we stopped in for a look. So... Nevis.

Just in case we were wondering where we were
We sailed the short distance from St Kitts to Charlestown, Nevis and cleared in on a Saturday morning. The town was pretty sleepy when we arrived and by Sunday it was completely asleep. Perfect for walking around and being able to see both the brightly painted buildings as well as the worn down facades and also for conversations with locals relaxing on their days off.

Clockwise from top L: bright orange firetruck, a few bright orange flamboyant blooms, the 'N' of Nevis, shops closed up tight.
From the center of town we walked north and saw the monument to the more than 200 islanders whose lives were lost when the inter-island ferry M/V Christena sank on August 1, 1970. The overloaded ferry boat sank in the Narrows, the passage between St Kitts and Nevis and remains upright on the sea floor.  

We followed the road out of town for a few blocks but quickly gave in to the smell of curry coming from a small cafe. A young Guyanese woman tended the curry while her two young girls chased each other around, trying their best to help, but mostly just ending up in their very patient mother's way. They came to chat with us for a while and gave us some guidance about what to see around the island. Her chicken roti was pretty tasty, but we couldn't talk the recipe out of her. 

Inside info from the chef and her two little ones
Also pretty tasty was the mango and spicy dipping sauce she set out for us
Sunday baseball game under Nevis peak, quiet streets, John H obeys the sign and remains unlocked at the dinghy dock.
Stag - apparently it's a man's beer.
Trying to stay cool.
Swanky hotel under the cloud shrouded peak
Tiny crab digs in the black sand beach
Nevis claims the oldest tourist hotel in the Caribbean, The Bath Hotel, which was famous for it's volcanic hot springs that people swear by for treatment of just about anything that ails you. Built around 1780, the hotel has had it's ups and downs and now houses the island's government offices. 

We're big fans of hot pools... but as it turns out, the difference between 105 degrees and 110 degrees (besides the obvious 5 degrees) is the difference between being able to just sink right down into the water, or having to very slowly inch down into the water. Yowza. This water was HOT. I think having a cold pool nearby to cool off once in a while made a big difference too.

Hot stuff.

Enter at your own risk (and please... no soap!)

It was quiet at the hot pool when we were there, but the locals we did meet said some evenings there are so many people wanting a soak that there can be quite a wait to get in. We met older Nevisians who swore by the healing properties of the water as well as young professionals that come once a week for their soak. 

Our two night stop didn't allow for much time for exploration here, so we're putting Nevis on our re-visit list and hope to be back next year for a better look. We left the anchorage in Charlestown and anchored on the north end to be better placed to leave for Antigua early in the morning. We were sailing in tandem with an Aussie single hander we'd met in the customs office in Nevis, both of us deciding to take what was to be the "least worst day" to make the 40 mile trip to Antigua. 

View of Nevis peak from the anchorage in Tamarind Bay on the north side.
Zoomed in on part of the lush green mountainside.
This would be the time to change the title of the blog to one of the above mentioned. I guess I'd go with "Sailing Sucks, Part Three". We rounded the tip of Nevis and looked around for the forecast 15-ish knots and 3 to 4 foot seas. We tacked out through the South Channel of the Narrows and never really did find the comfortable seas.

Early morning fishermen, north side of Nevis
From the start seas were 5 to 8 feet, with short intervals between and with the occasional 10 footer in there to keep things interesting. True wind was 18 to 25 all day with more than 30 knots over the deck often enough to make us both really crabby. The problem was not so much the forecast, but the squall line that ran along our rhumb line drawing in the wind and increasing the wind speed for the entire trip. We crashed through the crummy conditions with water pouring down the decks for 10 hours and arrived in Antigua with no desire to sail anywhere ever again. Even Barbuda. Yep, it was that crappy. We're counting on having short memories though, so we'll get back to Barbuda soon enough.

It looked pretty to start out with...
...but turned bad in a hurry.
One of many water spouts that dropped down out of the squall line. Montserrat barely visible below the spout.
Our Aussie friend, Bruce, arrived in Jolly Harbor an hour or so after us, looking a little stunned. Bruce bought his boat just a few weeks back and is single handing, and sailing in the Caribbean, for the first time. He wasn't really sure what's thought of as normal here and when he asked what we thought of the passage and we said things like "It was just awful!" "The worst trip ever!" "Just terrible!", he was pretty relieved to know it wasn't all in a day's sail for us too. We were chatting on the radio on the passage, but you don't tend to say things like "Isn't this the worst passage you've ever done?! I hate sailing!" to anyone while you're all just trying to get through it!

Captains Bruce & Skip talk about better passages
Two days later... swimming off Jolly Beach Antigua. Squalls still haunt the stretch between Nevis and Antigua
We managed to get out of Jolly Harbor at least for a few days and are comfortably anchored in Carlisle Bay where we watched a wedding on the beach last night and snorkeled with lion fish and puffer fish today. We waved Bruce off this morning and we'll head back around to Jolly tomorrow to get Saralane ready to be hauled later this week.


Cindy barnard said...

YEA!!!!! I seem to be cleared to comment again. So here I am. This was a great post, M. For the first time in a while I had to pull out the chart to find you. I like doing that. Gives me that vicarious thang. Don't forget everything about that trip. I want to hear more when you are sitting safely on our stable, permanent, grounded deck ON LAND with a glass of wine in your hand. Loved the photos of Nevis. You definitely captured the quiet, sultry sense of the day. And the pics of the mountain were/are gorgeous. You have not lost your touch.

Leslie said...

You're becoming so nautical I have to read your blog with a Google page open to look up terminology (rhumb line!).

Glad you made it through the crossing.


Lili said...

I'm so sorry for your rough sailing from Nevis to Antigua. But I know what you mean, we've been to Nevis twice and both times we chose to sail round the S side pass Redonda directly back to Antigua. That meant motoring of course and was really rough and uncomfortable both times, even in good weather. It is also probably the reason why we didn't visit Nevis more often, we quite liked it, I really liked the small botanical garden there.
Hope you'll forget the rough sailing soon and start looking forward to Barbuda!

Skylark's Voyage said...

Luna says, "Maybe crummy, scary and uncomfortable passages are a little like giving forgets the pain eventually". But Luna is a dog who has never given birth, so what does she know? Glad you arrived safe and sound.

Bob & Janice said...

Sorry you had such a crummy passage, but thankfully we all seem to have short memories or we couldn't keep doing what we do- continue to sail to explore new places. Have. Safe trip back to the U.S. if you aren't here already!!

Lizzy said...

I love reading your blog! I want to go back...

We missed you at Thanksgiving this year! We heard plenty of stories about Uncle Perry and Nana sharing a bedroom growing up. Anytime you need an extra hand let me know ;)

Linda said...

Hey kids,
Just wanted to pop in and say hi. Thinking of you both over the holidays and hope you have some twinkle lights hanging on the Saralane.
Hope you are feeling better GF and glad you are safe and relaxing after the rough passage.
Let's try to facetime soon.
xoxo Linda