Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Other People's Vacation Pics Part II - Nevis

The distance from St. Kitts to Nevis is short and we had blissfully light conditions for our sail across The Narrows.  Bruce was as happy to have "crew" to help him with raising sails as I've been to have "help" in the kitchen!

The sleeping volcano
Our arrival to the mooring field just off of Charleston, the main town on Nevis, commanded a front-row-seat view of the volcano.  Somehow I find it comforting to lie beneath the shadow of these mountains...


Nobody likes to arrive to shore soaking wet...
We secured the boat to one of many mooring balls, anchoring is allowed but the cost is the same.  We dinghied to the town dock and were met by several individuals offering taxi tours and such.

One man, John, led us to the Port office where we let the officials know of our plans and paid the $54 EC for entry and three nights stay in Nevis.  We paid clearance into the country back in St. Kitts so this was just for use and anchoring/mooring in Nevis' waters.
Dinghy dock in Charleston, Nevis
The waterfront
Started at the tourist office for maps and advice...
We began our walk around the town... which didn't take long as it's not that big...  Kathy and Robert were interested in seeing the Hamilton Museum... one of few attractions we've seen while cruising for which there is a fee.  Funny... not worth the low price in my opinion.  It was just some boards with a history of the island and a few artefacts... all of which could be found on the internet... but I guess we've got to support the economy.  I thought it would open up into access to the home, but it didn't.

Hamilton House

We left out the back alley...
Same as Basseterre, the history of this town was still alive in its buildings.  I felt almost like I was walking through an historical novel...

This beautiful church was built by Freed Blacks... for themselves.

This seems to be a town centre... lots of folks Limin'

All of these buses have names on the front.  Some of them are a hoot!  Wish I had taken more pics of them but they move fast!
Nevis Police Station
Neighbour lady Limin' on the porch while the hen and chicks peck in the yard.  
The town being as small as it is, if you don't wish to tour the many churches... or partake of the services of the many, MANY banks... it doesn't take long to be done.

I heard that there were free thermal baths somewhere just out of town past the police station.  Somewhat at a loss for what to do next, we turned our feet in that direction.

We considered briefly, going back to the boat to get swimsuits.  We figured baths must be a place to swim...  Since we were already this far we decided to press on and go back tomorrow if swimming was needed.

Bruce wasn't excited about another long hike and I began to feel the heat of many stares on my back as I confidently led my people through town.

At just about the point of mutiny we saw a long ravine  with rocks and a trickling swampy stream down the middle...

Surely this isn't it!  We asked and were pointed in the direction of a stairway leading down in to the trench... where two men were bathing.

I mean they were BATHING!  Like with soap and they weren't shy about Soapin-It-Up!  We tried not to look as we descended the stairway but it was sort of hard not to.  When they struck up a conversation and welcomed us warmly to the thermal baths... we were relieved that they kept their hands where we could see them... mostly.

Kathy and I striped off... our shoes.  Nope, not going into that water with those dudes!  But our feet were sore and the hot water sounded heavenly.  Robert followed reluctantly but Bruce remained up on the bridge...

My poor swelled-up left foot loved the heat!

We coaxed Bruce down for a group photo
The real baths...
The water was really HOT!  Hard to imagine that it just comes up out of the earth all hot and minerally...  We continued our chat with the two bathers, answering their many questions about living on a boat.. .while they answered ours about island life.  Really everyone we've met since leaving the BVI has been super nice!

Funny they didn't mention that the REAL baths were just over the horizon... where civilised folk bathed... Maybe we will come back here...
And then there's this yucky bath... Wonder what it is for...
Leaving the baths we wandered up the hill and found a huge tree.  I later learned that it is actually on the map... It's a Baobab tree.  They grow huge and long, and I'm sure I've seen one before but can't remember where.  Anyway, it is part of one of the oldest hotels in the Caribbean.

Plantation ruins
Big tree!

The Hotel
On our return trip through town we encountered rush hour traffic.  It was very stressful.

On our way back to the boat we did a drive-by of a couple of boats that Robert was SURE were America's Cup boats.  Turns out he was right!

He LOVES the flowered umbrella!  

Good Sunset-viewing from the Charleston mooring field...
After we'd gone to bed there was a fireworks display at the Four Seasons.  Nice touch!  Thanks!

After a good night's sleep with surprisingly little "roll" (this anchorage is somewhat known for being uncomfortable) we were up early and off to the beach for a stroll.

Unfortunately we NEVER learn... and left some windows open on the boat.  So when a ball of rain loomed on our horizon, we hastily made tracks back to the dinghy for a mad dash back to the boat.  It pretty much rained on us all the way back... then abruptly stopped when we arrived at the boat...  Typical...

So we closed all the windows and hatches... then sat around looking at the horizon... until we talked ourselves into returning to the beach to continue that stroll...  after we buzzed by the America's Cup boats.

We chatted with the crew onboard while they awaited the ferryboats delivering their paying "crew".  We openly admitted that we had been stalking them on the internet and had spent many fun evenings back home with our racing crowd watching and critiquing the races...  Fun times.  The guys were very good to humour us old fogeys... We mused as we left them that they were probably not born yet when these boats were racing...

Robert spotted the two America's Cup boats off in the distance... They were now racing around a small racecourse.  We watched them for a while... then back to the boat to dress for lunch.

We delayed our departure from Charleston so that we could attend the "First Annual Pork Fest"!  Yay pork!  Wouldn't wanna miss that!

Things were heating up as we arrived with vendors selling trinkets and locally made sauces and jellies.

There was a bandstand with music that was just going on break... We weren't unhappy about that as it meant that we could actually hear each other speak... Soon the musicians were replaced by an MC who was running a "local trivia" game.

How awesome is that?  He asked questions about the island's history and locals competed with their answers.  It was very informative and I loved that they were improving their minds instead of just blowing them with loud music!

He had mad skills with a meat cleaver!
We took a look around at the local dishes offered and opted to get our lunch from a vendor on a side-street that was much less crowded.  We could watch as they cooked the meats and the sides offered were on a much smaller scale... but one local standing at the dessert table assured us that this lady's food was a favourite in town...
Salt Fish, a local favourite... ummm no thank you!

We purchased chicken, ribs, sausage and pork steaks and our chosen sides were mashed potatoes, cabbage salad and peas-n-rice.  Dessert was a local baked pudding dish similar to bread pudding but made with sweet potatoes ??? and some delicious coconut tarts!  We fed four with leftovers for $84 EC (a little over $30 US) and in our small part, helped out a community.  Wish we had bought more of those tarts!

Our lunch was served "family style" in the middle of the ferry landing area...  Locals watched us surreptitiously as we dodged the attention of an older gentleman, obviously they've seen him in action before...  He kept talking to us about his life and finally flat out asked us to give him any leftovers we might have.

At right about the time we were finishing up and had a couple of pieces of chicken left uneaten, he was called away to attend the departure of the ferry.  He was a line handler and because I didn't want him to miss out on the delicious chicken... I took it over to him on the dock, which got me a hug and big smiles... followed by an attempted drive-by kiss on the lips which I dodged... turning my cheek just in time.  He landed one on my cheek and I got the faintest whiff of alcohol...

He laughed as I told him "Dude!  You SAW my husband over there!".  Guy's gotta try...

So... onward!  We would have loved the opportunity to rent a car on Nevis for a day... but future weather conditions urged us to move on.  I've read about Oualie Beach in the guides as being a good anchorage for winds are up and have a bit of south in them, so we headed that way.  It's a short distance and the boys stood on deck watching the island slip by, when I asked them to identify what looked to be an obstacle for me.  It turned out to be a dredge line going who-knows-where.  We easily avoided it and soon arrived at our destination.

What the guide books didn't really say was that the desirable spots in this anchorage were very shallow and even more crowded.  With the threat of squalls I wasn't comfortable in 7 ft of water, so we backtracked to a spot a little further out.  We couldn't get the anchor to hold there, and it was a bit rolly and exposed... so we abandoned Oualie altogether and fell back to the next bay over, Cade Bay.

It is right near the ferry dock but wakes were better than swell...  I did my usual circuit of the anchorage looking at depths before picking a spot.  The boys on deck suddenly began to yell!  I followed their glance just in time to put the engine in neutral as a VERY long line stretched from a float on our port side to somewhere in the distance past our starboard.


Sunset on the volcano
We were in only 9 ft of water and the line on that float should have been much shorter...  I held my breath as the boat slowed... and gradually stopped.  We had snagged it...

Robert to the rescue!!!  He jumped in and swam beneath the boat to free the line, which was not cut, from our shaft and rudder.  We began to drift toward the rocks as he climbed back aboard.  I put it into gear and brought us around to point into the wind so the boys could drop anchor in a sandy patch... and soon it was all a memory.

Robert and Kathy snorkelled for a while finding some shells and spotting one shy octopus... My foot was swelled up from our hiking incident so no flippers for me.  Actually I used the time our guests were off the boat to do some light housekeeping and prepare dinner so that we could all relax and watch the setting sun.
St. Kitts, just across The Narrows
Our plan was to spend two nights at Oualie beach and maybe rent a car.  But because this anchorage didn't have a safe place to leave the dinghy we turned our eye to the anchorage on the south side of St. Kitts, just across The Narrows... A quick vote the next morning had us pulling up anchor just after breakfast.

Dawn on the volcano

Of note:  while we lazed around we watched the fishermen heading out for their day's work... This boat got snagged on the same line we did!  Vindicated!!!

Booby Island
It didn't take long to cross The Narrows and we did so without incident.  There was one other boat in Cockleshell Bay and we found a good spot just a little bit closer in.  We wanted to be tucked in close to avoid any swell that might wrap around the point and into the anchorage.  So far it was pretty flat... but we were still waiting for our weather email...  Our plan was to enjoy the anchorage this afternoon and then have dinner at the Reggae Beachbar.

Robert and Kathy went for a snorkel while Bruce and I did some housekeeping... again, no flippers for me.  I checked for that email and was dismayed to find that the forecast for a wave to pass through our area had moved to this afternoon/overnight tonight.  The winds would come around more southeast and a chance of squalls to 25 knots made our decision easy.  That would bring unpleasantness right into this anchorage...

When our snorkelers returned I broke the bad news to them.  They were totally OK with our change of plans... Instead of dinner, we would have lunch here at the Reggae Beachbar and then move back around to Ballast Bay for protection.

Everybody got dressed and we dinghied ashore to the dinghy dock.  As we were tying up, a guy on a tourist taxi boat advised us that Saturdays were busy and that we needed to move forward on the dock so that two boats could drop off passengers.  We moved to the end and threw out the stern anchor to keep our dinghy out of the way...  and went on up the beach to the restaurant... just a little miffed.

There weren't many people around... maybe they were waiting for that boat to come in...  We let it go and resumed enjoyment of our surroundings and the company.  Lunch was delicious and the drinks were very potent and good.

There was only one moment during our stay when two boats were on the dock, and there would have been plenty of room for all... when we returned, one boat was pulled all the way forward and was making physical contact with our dinghy.  100 ft left behind his boat, and no tourists...  Sheesh!

We extricated ourselves and returned to the mothership and took off!  Perhaps my rum punch was a little too potent... or maybe I was just distracted... There was no traffic around but there was a rainbow.  I took multiple photos of it and was surprised when suddenly I heard an engine close by.  A car ferry was about to cross our bow!  Wow!  He came up FAST! I avoided him and returned to my duty as Skipper with renewed concentration.  It would be unpleasant to crash our boat with company aboard!  (Don't judge... I'm just kidding)
Ballast Bay is awesome!

We found our cozy spot taken by another boat but soon found another sand patch available to receive our anchor.  Robert went out to inspect and pronounced us set... on to sunset watching!  These four photos were taken within minutes of one another.  Sunsets just never get old!

The following day was a little rainy.  We sat around and made water and read and chatted... Robert and Kathy took the dinghy around to the next cove for a snorkel adventure.  While they were gone, Bruce and I messed around...  No, not that kind of messing around... the kind of messing around that involves taking apart toilet hoses!

Yes, every time we have guests, one of our toilets malfunctions...  We were able to get it going again, at least temporarily... but it still needs further investigation.  At least we're back to being a two-potty-boat.
This was all over Robert when they came back from snorkelling!

Shipwreck Beachbar in South Friars Bay
We moved the boat again the next... and last full day with our friends.  I don't know if they were becoming tired of my cooking... but they said that they just wanted to treat us to dinner on our last day together.  Our anchorage was just a couple of miles away and looked good in the guide books...

Our experience of the anchorage at South Friar's Bay with the current conditions was not a good one. We explored depths all up an down the beach and found them less than charted in most spots.  The waves were onshore causing us to roll uncomfortably.

It's SO nice having Robert around!  He wants to do everything!
We decided to combine snorkelling with lunch instead of waiting around for dinner... Just getting to shore was a challenge as there seemed to be no clear cut place to land the dinghy.  There were swimmers and snorkelers in the water and we motored around outside the swimming area looking for a break.  We finally asked the sunbathers on the floating dock if they knew where it would be good to land... They waved us on in, and still we found rocks and a sunken barrel to avoid with the waves pushing us onshore.

They had to wrangle it up the beach!
But we made it with Robert to the rescue once again.  Kathy and I didn't even get wet!

Notice our black feet!!!
We chose our chaise lounges beneath a ratty palapa and settled in with our black feet sticking out conspicuously!  I didn't want to get the black sand... yes, totally black sand... on any of our stuff!

The guys went off snorkelling up the beach while Kathy and I had some girl time.  We really have enjoyed having them here and I just wish the weather had cooperated a bit more...  While our boat rolled out there in the waves it was pretty nice here on the beach...

The guys came back, both with hands FULL of sand dollars!  They grabbed all they could hold and said there were still bunches of them out there.  I donated our stack to Kathy but not before keeping them in memory.

They made a stark contrast to the black sand...

What a cool spot this is... maybe next time the winds will be more calm and we can return...  We gathered our stuff and headed up to the stairway leading to the Shipwreck Beachbar.

It is aptly named as it looks as if it was truly constructed from stuff that washed ashore...  We got the primo corner table with the view of our yacht rolling restlessly beyond the swimmers.  Lunch was delicious even if the tuna was cooked beyond the rare requested.  It was a sandwich and it was still fresh and delicious.  Maybe the fry grease did need to be changed... but the drinks were delicious and the service was very good...

Monkey food
We almost forgot the monkeys!  There are reportedly monkeys on the island.  Robert said their cab driver told them there were more monkeys than people and that they would surely see some...  So far, only a glimpse of a few on shore near the anchorage... that only Robert saw...  hmm.

There was food set out at the base of the hill and we walked over in hopes of seeing them...  But we had to settle for a couple of mongoose.  OK, mongoose are interesting too.  The monkeys come out mainly in the mornings and evenings... not to be seen by our eyes...

We returned to an even more violently rolling boat and hauled anchor.  We were too close to our calm anchorage in Ballast Bay to waste a night here.  In the morning we went ashore to await our rental car...  It was an hour-and-a-half late.  Thankfully we had planned to leave early to visit the cruise ship mall for Kathy's souvenir requirements.

There was still an hour to spend there before we had to drop our dear friends off at the airport.  It was such a pleasure having them visit and we only wished it could have been for longer.  Our options are limited by weather and time... there is just so much out here we wish we could have enjoyed with our travel-mates...

Still working on that toilet... Can I get credit for this?
Before they were off of the island we were slipping back into our solitary lives... running errands and putting the boat back in Cruiser mode.  By nightfall it was as if they had never been there...
Cruiser life isn't always pretty...
Internet time at Christophe Harbour Marina

Robert and Kathy, you're always welcome on Dos Libras!
Hard work but somebody's got to do it!

Basseterre in the distance
Moon, Jupiter and Spica