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Saint Kitts and Nevis, via Montserrat
-- 5th to the 11th April 2012--
A long tack south to go and round a semi-desert island buried under volcanic ashes. Then Saint Kitts and Nevis, home of the very first European settlers. They brought with them malicious little monkeys from Africa, who shall serve as our guides through that land of contrast: arid salt ponds areas and green volcanoes, sleepy traditional towns and bustling artificial beach resorts, isolated anchorages and marinas in the heart of the city… More pictures on our page "Pictures".

Sailed 128 miles
8393 miles since the start
We stopped in :Nevis : Charlestown (anchorage), Saint Kitts : Whitehouse Bay (anchorage), Basseterre (anchorage + marina)
4th – 5th April 2012 : Barbuda – Nevis via Montserrat (111 M)
They say that the shortest route between two points is a straight line. Yet we prefer nice over straight… we want to see that volcano there, distance doesn’t matter. We hoist the sails at dark, after diner. Great, night sailing – that had been a long time! The moon almost full greets us to the deck, as we enjoy a sweet summer night under the stars. In the morning the silhouette of Montserrat clearly appears in the west, the scars of this wounded piece of land shining in the new sun. Once upon the time, there was a green and prosperous island in the Eastern Caribbean called Montserrat. Good crops were planted on the sides of a green mountain, whose top caught the clouds and trapped their precious water. The land was shared between the locals who worked the ground and the sea, and some tourists who occupied some spot in between – and everybody was happy. Then in 1995 the placid green cloud-capped mountain, called “Soufriere of Galway”, woke up. Luckily there were signs and few people got killed. But the southern half of the island – including the thriving capital Plymouth – was covered with ashes. Up till now, access to the area is forbidden; smokes at the top and a strong sulfur smell remind us that this volcano doesn’t have a sound sleep…

Arriving to Montserrat
After rounding the south point we can see the ruins of Plymouth. Modern time’s Pompei. Vast desert areas and abandoned houses have a weird gloom under the radiant sun.

Here was a city…

… now are ruins
Windgusts running down the hills and a steady swell deter us from our first intention, which was to drop the anchor at Old Road Bay (just north of the forbidden area). We’re heading directly for our next stop: Nevis. Sailing is a pleasure today, with 4bft blowing from the beam and… above all… lots of fish!! Waters around Montserrat look like an endless stock of fresh proteins: since dawn we are towing our two lines – useless since Tobago – and they keep jumping! Three hits at the beginning: one mahi-mahi that ran away – one that stays :o) - and one almaco jack that we have to let go for fear of Ciguatera. Some hours later, the short line goes again: “that’s a big one” cries Laure. But as she pulls the line back it doesn’t seem so big after all… it’s a kingfish. Or better said: half of a kingfish! Only the upper half of the fish is coming up with the bait: the rest has been chopped away by some powerful jaw – a clean cut – that must have been a VERY big one indeed :oS

Mahi-mahi for lunch

Half a kingfish for diner
We're still dreaming of the shark that allowed us to share its diner when we reach Charlestown, the capital of Nevis – just as night is falling, that’s some good timing! The main anchorage area, facing the Pinney’s Beach, has been equipped with moorings now, anchors are no longer welcome. If there is no swell, one can land the dinghy on the beach. Otherwise there’s a dinghy dock at the jetty in-town, half a mile away. A last good surprise is awaiting us today: our neighbor is a cute little boat, light blue, proudly flying the Dutch colors… can it be… Sya! We had not seen our Dutch friend Richard sailing around the pond single-handed since la Graciosa, Canarias. Less than 15 min later we are in his cockpit, exchanging news and drinking good old Dutch sailors’ drink “Schipper Bitter”

Arriving to Charlestown
6th-7th April : visiting Nevis
Today is Holy Friday, this is a holiday in most of the Antilles. Half convinced we take the usual papers with us, just in case… At the dinghy dock a man wearing a “port authority” uniform is standing, apparently charged with welcoming the dinghies; he lead us to the customs – yes they are open! Uhm, “open on a holiday = overtime” we think, and frown (an “overtime tax” is charged in most of the English speaking islands for formalities done outside working hours). Wrong! This is a holiday indeed (judging by the look of the officer – fake diamond piercings, baggy trousers and hear scarf probably are probably not part of the normal uniform…) but we pay only 30 $EC. We have to wait a looooong time nevertheless: a power outage turned all the lights – and computers – out intown and they sent someone fetch paper forms at some other remote office. That’s for the customs. Immigration by the police station is quicker. Then back to customs to get a “boating pass” allowing sailing between the twin islands Nevis and St Kitts. Walking back and forth between the offices we visit the city – completely dead. All the shops are closed (except for the Chinese supermarket of course, where a little girl walks with us through the shelves holding a flashlight – still no light). The streets are broad and clean, lined with nice colonial buildings: the first floor in stones, the second floor in painted wood. Finally the power is back – and we get free internet by the bar at the jetty, yeepee!
Charlestown is asleep on this White Friday
Back onboard we have a late, yet compulsory lunch: some fish over from yesterday cannot be wasted. Then we start preparing diner: tonight we have a special guest, our Dutch neighbor, who has never tasted true Breton “crêpes” before :o)

Monkeys are cute - but they're quick: we couldn't take a better picture than that
On the next morning the town has awaken a bit. Saturday morning in the Caribbean: market day. Easter comes after. Time to refill our fruit and vegies bag. Prices are easy to remember: 4 or 5 $EC per pound, similar to the most Antilles (that’s close to 3 eur/kg yet, not so cheap on those island where the ground is either burnt by the sun or steep on a volcano slope). After shopping we set off to explore further the island, hoping to get closer to this attractive round green volcano towering over the harbor. The town is sprawling further than we expected and we have to climb for a long time before being out of the last suburbs. There’s supposed to be a path going around the peak, but a local tells us it’s closed in many places to the west. Going east is OK though. We follow the guy’s indications through a thickening forest. Some shade at last! Trees are devouring the ruins of an old plantation, the chimney and what could have been a sugar-mill are only visible now. Something flashes through the way: a monkey! We look up: plenty of monkeys! They’re a bit suspicious and won’t let us come closer, sit to look at us for a while, then disappear into the forest.
Further up we come by the Hermitage Inn, a former plantation now turned into a fancy guesthouse. What a garden, what a view! There we walk back on the main road to town, only getting lost a bit to look for a path that doesn’t exist any more. Just east to the town stand a few buildings dating back to the golden age of the thermal tourism. Indeed, Nevis became the first touristic destination in the Antilles as early as in the 1770’s, when the English used to come and enjoy the springs in the so-called place of “Bath” (where Admiral Nelson got married – that’s to say how popular it was). The hot spring used by the natives Arawaks is still flowing today, and still very hot! We prefer jumping into the cool sea once back onboard :o)
Typical Nevis, former plantations turned into beautiful guesthouses
8th April 2012 : Nevis – Saint Kitts (Whitehouse Bay) (6 M)

Saint Kitts: on the left, a green volcanic area, on the right, the arid salt ponds region

Saltimbanque in White House Bay, bearing the Tibetan prayer flags again
Today is Easter. It’s also, more importantly, Captain Camille’s birthday! She’s turning 30 and we want to celebrate this great day in a great place. That will be the next island Saint Kitts; the south of which seems to be desert and arid and populated only by birds roaming in colorful salt ponds – perfect! The wind picks up as usual once we’re out of the leeside of Nevis and we run with the wind to the beam towards one of the first bays on the western coast: Whitehouse Bay. A few boats are already anchored there, most of them empty, good. Making for the beach until we reach 3.5m depth, anchor down (perfect sand ground) and backwards – the keel is in 4.8m of water, couldn’t wish for better.
The bay lies between two rocky cliffs. This causes a split second of hesitation onboard: where are the fish bigger? Actually that doesn’t really matter – we’ll go see them both :o) Turns out that they look quite similar: a little coral, a good number of fish, yet small and shy. Then we see the antennas!! Yesss!! At the end of the day, Camille plays Bach to the setting sun before sitting for a real birthday diner: fresh fish “accras” (=creole fish donuts), lobsters, and home-made coconut-pie. Today she has not set a foot on shore :o)
Playing the flute on the deck of one’s boat in a tropical anchorage while the lobsters are cooking – that’s a dream-come-true birthday !!
9th April 2012 : visiting Whitehouse Bay
Behind the beach are salt ponds… we saw promising pictures on the blog of a boat sailing around in 2004 (Madeo). We too want to see this colorful spectacle!

That was in 2004, on Madeo’s blog (www.antoinehelene.net)

The same ponds today, cut open - and dead - by some real estate development project :o(
On the beach where they anchored a dredger is now at work, preventing the access. The sandbank that used to cut the pond from the sea has been cut open. The first pond, and the smaller and bigger ponds behind, are now all connected to the sea, in one big area of brownish water. Whatever happened to the animals, little and big, that must have lived in this fragile ecosystem… There’s a new pontoon on the lake. The whole southern area of the island seems to be now the property of “Christophe Harbour”, a company building condo’s on artificial lands gained on the lake, fringed by rachitic palmtrees forced into the arid soil :o( We walk all around the lagoon, looking for a place still preserved. Taxis and buses passing by are headed to the beaches on the very south. This is Second Easter day, thus a holiday. On a small dirt path off the road we see a group of monkeys :o)
Disappointed we turn around and have our picnic onboard. The world outside is a mess, let’s go back under the water. Further up to the north we find another group of rocks. How beautiful! Big rocks covered with colorful coral in a shallow water, the sunlight is playing with moving shadows, creating an enchanting world where the usual tropical fishes seem to be flying. Many species of fish, but also cuttlefishes, one turtle, weird spider-looking shrimps… no lobsters today. The hunting is not very successful: the fish are too quick, the rocks too round, the water too humid… we bring back up mostly pictures :o)
Another beautiful coral reef :o) we enjoy every moment in the water, now that our time in the Antilles is closer to the end :o(
10th April 2012 : Whitehouse Bay – Basseterre (6M)

Arriving to Basseterre, where cruising ships prove poor wave-breakers…
There’s only one thing against quiet anchorage places: they don’t have customs officers. And sometimes we have to face customs officers… Let’s go then, to town. The capital Basseterre is only a few miles away and we need only our genoa, pushed by a fair breeze. Two big cruise ships are to be avoided before entering into the bay, close to the entrance of the small marina Port Zante. We find a spot by 3.5m on a good holding sand ground. The swell makes it a bit uncomfortable though.
We moor our dinghy inside the marina, equipped with two tanks of water and one small tank of gasoline, and the boat’s documents of course. This morning will be dedicated to chores… The Customs and Immigration office is located in the big (yellow and green) building standing by the cruising dock, in the shopping center arranged for the ships’ thousands passengers next to the jetty. Better described as “Disneyland”. Duty free shops next to jewelries, American bars, hair-breading stands and souvenirs shops. They even have costumed dancers banging on drums and small monkeys wearing nappies so that they don’t relieve themselves on the heads or shoulders where they’re placed for the picture. After a few minutes to adjust to this new world (where we’re completely ignored by both tourists and locals – too suntanned for the ones and too white for the others), we find the customs office. They are well equipped: 10 seconds later they’ve printed the form and scanned our passports just as if we were in Houston Airport. Open every day from 6am to 7pm! They must have lots of work processing the information for 1 to 2 ships a day, 1000 to 3000 each :oS. They only frown when we ask to pay in EC $, not in US $ - where are those two weirdoes with their empty gas bottle in the hand coming from?
Come on folks, everybody back onboard, quick!

The nice Circus Place
We rush out of this Dollar-Paradise and into the real city. It is quite big and we walk along the bride streets, from the Independence Square to the Circus, and in front of the impressive Anglican Church. This seems to be a rather wealthy city, clean and proud of its well-kept historical buildings. It feels a bit like in Saint Georges of Grenada: enough money flowing from the cruising terminal to the city to afford keeping the history alive while fueling a lively present economy. The English influence is perceptible mixed to the joyous Caribbean beat. Next to the market we find some fruit and veggies and even delicious mangoes! Guavas are our local favorite. They’re marinating in a bottle of rum right now, to be open only back to Brittany!
Gas and water tanked, papers checked, we can go back to Saltimbanque. The swell is bigger now, the anchorage is getting more and more uncomfortable. We decide to treat ourselves to a night at the marina, and be able to do something else of the rest of the day than fearing for our anchorage. Dear fellow yachtsmen be warned: there’s no point in trying to call the marina on the VHF, they don’t watch it. All you need to do is get straight in, and wait until someone notices you and indicate a spot. Boats are moored with two stern-lines to the quay and two bow-lines to wooden pals in the water (just like in our Dutch homeport Stad aan’t Haringvliet! Sweet sweet Holland…). The marina crew is very friendly, they have a good security service, showers (cold, but still, real showers!), the fee is 0.5 $US/foot and water and electricity are on top. We enjoy being safely moored and get out to find internet, and even have diner in a restaurant.
11th April 2012 : Basseterre – Whitehouse Bay (5M)
The weather forecast is good for today: 15 knots. Time to give kiting another try! There’s one kitesurf spot in the island, located on North Frigate Bay, 5km to the south of Basseterre.
Yes but… there’s no bus going south of the island. Buses go north, where locals live. The South is dedicated to American tourists in their villa’s, and they can take a cab! Well, we’ll walk then. On the way we visit the industrial neighborhood next to the Deep Water port, pass by a very nice oil terminal, and end up in Playmobil-land! Yellow villa’s standing on the hills like clones with their blue plastic roof. Concrete condo’s being built like old manors overlooking the bay. A huge golf cutting off the road from the gigantic Marriot Hotel. Nothing seems real. We waste some time trying to walk around the golf before finding our way to the beach. It’s disappointing, rocky and dirty. And the wind is definitely not strong enough in the end.

« Life in plastic, is fantastic… »
Much ado for nothing… we get a cab back to the city in the end, do some shopping before converting our last EC$ into US$...Since Grenada we have been using EC$ in all the non-French islands. But now US$ will be our next currency. That’s the end of a part of our trip, sniff! Then we head back to our beloved and quiet Whitehouse Bay, much better sheltered from the swell, to spend some more quality time with our friends the fish…

Aaaa, Whitehouse Bay…
We have to sail chosehold to the wind this time and after two tacks we can drop the anchor just a couple of meters away from yesterday. There’s no swell but the wind has veered to the south and is accelerated between the hills now, blowing quite strong in gusts. Well, holding in the sand is perfect and we prefer wind over waves! It’s the middle of the afternoon, very hot and sunny, the thermometer inside indicates a new record: 37°! Indeed those last days the sun has been so hard on us that we had to put some sunscreen again on our arms and legs, however suntanned they might already be! We are in April and the sun lies around 7,5° North. We are only 10 degrees more to the north. That means that at its zenith, the sun strikes the ground is a very small angle, casting almost no shadow! Never yet have we been so close to the sun, even in Guyana by 5° North, since it was then winter, with the sun peaking around 23°S, hence 28° from us…
Conclusion: it’s hot! To cool down there’s nothing better than jumping in the water :o) The corals and fishes are still as beautiful as the day before. We take our spear-gun with us but nothing interesting appears… until we bring it back to the boat to swim more freely… just a little swim by the beach, Laure says. Under a rock just 20 m from the beach, there’s a mine of lobsters! We take 2 for the diner, 2 to bake in “terrine” and keep for another day… without a fridge onboard, one must be reasonable: we leave the rest of the little family happy under their rock. Should you pass by, it’s a flat triangular rock on the north of the beach, in 1m of water… We enjoy tonight’s diner all the more as fishing is not allowed in our next destination, Statia…
… what a lovely place!
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Your messages:

la mamou - 16/04/2012 19:06:17
le ouassou ( déformation de "roi des sourses" )est un crustacé d'eau douce plus proche de l'écrevisse que de la langoustine !!
en eau de mer tropicale , on trouve de belles crevettes très rouges rayées de blanc et de taille modeste ... mais sans image je ne m'avancerai pas davantage ...

Nadia - 16/04/2012 18:18:01
que dire ? c'est tjrs aussi beau , ma photo préférée : les langoustes lol...

bonne continuation les filles !

Eric et Sandrine sur Traou Mad - 16/04/2012 15:47:36
Bon, si on a bien compris:
- il faut patienter jusqu'a Concarneau si on veut boire un coup de rhum arrangé
- Recette de Punch-Coco : 1/3 de rhum (qui peut lui-même être un moitié rhum vieux/moitié rhum blanc), 1/3 crème de Coco (en boite ça marche), 1/3 sucre de canne, vanille et muscade, remuez avant de servir et zou, c'est délicieux!
- Le rocher triangulaire, c'est noté
- les crevettes bizarres, ça se mange aussi, ce sont des Ouassous (nom créole)


la mamou - 16/04/2012 10:41:28
Saltimbanque aux antilles ...
Camille et Bach à la flüte ....
"quoi d'autre?"

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