Island hopping

In the last 10 days a lot has changed. We are more relaxed and more in tuned with our boat.  Our routines changed from waking up and rushing to start any odd job on the boat, to getting up and cruising through the day.

There ‘s always something to do though; swimming, snorkelling, sailing, exploring the nearby beaches, looking for waves, picking up rubbish from the beaches, making doormats, fishing for Mick, yoga for Isabel, seeing the sights, cooking, cleaning, watching the sunset, reading, watching movies, meeting new friends, more swimming.

St Kitts

On Thursday 12 March, we left Statia and sailed around 25 miles to Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts. The wind was constant between 20-25 knots the whole way and we got some good speed and enjoyed the sail. Mick caught a fish and we even saw a couple of dolphins. We arrived at Basseterre around 4pm and decided to anchor in the area of the bay called Deep Harbour, which isn’t that scenic, it’s more like an industrial port, but it was well protected and calm.

The following morning we went on the dinghy to the marina and did the clear in through customs, then to the cruise ship terminal to find immigration and port authority. You never know who you might get when you are doing the clearing in and out. This time, in our short time sailing, we can honestly say, we had the rudest immigration officer of all times! She didn’t talk to people; she grunted at them, without any good reason, she was just cranky and unpleasant.

We had a bit of a walk around town. Basseterre seemed so busy and alive after those two days at Statia where not much happens. There are plenty of street vendors, people walking everywhere, cars, noise. We went to an old cathedral where we could climb to the top to see a great view of the city.

We found a local fisherman who we showed a photo of the fish Mick had caught the day before to see if it was ok to eat. We have to be a bit careful with some fish having ciguatera. He said it was good to eat, but shortly after we had a rasta guy approach us and asked us to see the photo again. He then said: No man, that’s no good fish. No good fish man…… but if you don’t want it, give it to me! Yeah right…we went back to the boat, cooked and ate it. It was really yummy.

In the afternoon we decided to move to another bay, not too far from there, called White House Bay. As soon as we arrived, we jumped in the water and went for a snorkel. It was really beautiful, lots of fish and turtles. We spent the next day there, relaxing and just enjoying the scenery.

Our plan on that Sunday, was to go to the beaches on the other side of St Kitts, but by the time we reached the end of the island we decided to keep going to Nevis. We anchored at Pinney’s beach near the capital city called Charlestown; what a wonderful beach, one of my favourite anchorages so far.

Nevis

We stayed in Nevis until the following Wednesday. The anchorage was too good to leave. On the Monday, we went to the town’s dock, where we left the dinghy and walked around the streets for a couple of hours. We found a local bus and took a ride to a town called Gingerland, where a lot of the tourists go to, because there are old plantations converted to hotels. We didn’t go to the hotels; instead we just walked around looking at the old houses and enjoying the country side.

At the dock, we met a couple from England, Tony and Jill and they kindly invited us for sundowners to their boat. That afternoon was enjoyed watching the sunset and talking to new friends. It’s always good to meet new people and they usually have been sailing for a while, so we always get great advice on where to go or where not to go.

The last day in Nevis we just relaxed, did some yoga, cooked, read, went to the beach and at the end of the afternoon went to port to do the clear out. According to Chris Doyle’s cruising guides that we have onboard, the Nevis customs and immigration officers are amongst the nicest in the islands and luckily he was so right; we had the friendliest immigration officer this time, a young man, so polite and well mannered.

On Wednesday we sailed from Nevis to Montserrat. It was supposed to be an easy 33 miles sail but it wasn’t. The wind was on our nose again so we had to tack quite a bit and it took as way longer than what we expected. We arrived almost at sunset, buggered and hungry. One thing that surprised us once we were at anchor was how big the swell was on the bay. We could see the swell passing us by and breaking on the shore. We were so tired that night though that we didn’t feel the waves at all.

Montserrat

The next morning, after we did the clear in, we found one of the taxis and did a tour of the island. Our tour guide called Moose took us first to the volcano observatory where we watched a movie about the eruptions of the Soufriere Hill volcano. It started erupting in 1995 and continued being quite active until 2010. This, dramatically change the lives of the local people, who had to abandoned their houses and move to the north side of the island because their main city, Plymouth, was right in the danger zone. The eruptions made life on the island very difficult so more than half of the population left; some went to the neighbouring islands and others went to the UK.

The volcano’s activity has settled in the last five years but it’s far from being dormant. Life goes on in the island for the 4,500 that decided to stay. There are plans of building their new capital city in the north side of the island, where their main and only anchorage is. It is a beautiful island, dry on one side and full of trees and thick forest in the middle. We would’ve stayed a bit longer but the anchorage in Little Bay was really rolly and the second night we weren’t as tired so we really felt the waves this time.

On Friday 20 we started sailing around 8:30 am. Again and easy 30 miles sail to Antigua turned into disaster when we had a crazy cloud on top of us from most of the way making wind shifts and crazy weather throughout the passage. To make it even worse, it seemed like there was a mixed of swells or maybe it was the swell against the current but its effect was that we weren’t going anywhere for hours.

We had been really good until now sailing everywhere we’ve gone, but this was a bit too much for our patience, so after 4 hours of not going anywhere fast we turned the engine on and sailed straight to Jolly Harbour. We used the opportunity to make some water with our now perfectly functioning water maker, so it wasn’t all a waste of diesel. We arrived at Jolly Harbour around 4:30pm. First thing we noticed getting to Antigua was the amazing colour of its water, turquoise and beautiful. We were happy to have arrived!

Antigua

The following morning on our way to do the clear in, we recognized two boats that we knew from Sint Maartin: Paw Paw, with South Africans Roy and Elaine and Moody Mistress with Canadians Carla and Robert. We said hello to both of them on our way to customs and arrange to catch up later.

On our way back to the boat we saw a little wave breaking really close to our boat and figured there must be bigger and better waves somewhere else on the island. So we quickly had something to eat, got ready, jumped on the dinghy again and off we went in search for waves.

We rode the dinghy for about a half an hour on the most painful ride we’ve ever had, bumping and jumping, holding onto the boards; everything hurt, but it was worth it because found a wave!!! We anchored the dinghy, made sure it wasn’t going anywhere and jumped in. There were only two other surfers and it was a fun left hander point break called Galley Bay. We surfed for about two hours; it felt so good to be back in the water. Luckily the ride back to Jolly Harbour was much nicer with the swell now on our back and we were too happy to care.

In the afternoon we weren’t up for doing that long dinghy ride again but decided to have a go at the small wave near our boat. We took the longboard and the balsa board and paddle to the break. We had a blast, it was small but it had a fun shape and it was only Mick and I and the sunset, magical!

On the paddle back to the boat we noticed there was a new boat anchored next to us and it had an Australian flag on. We said hello and were shortly invited onboard for sundowners. We got changed and came back with some drinks and met some new friends, Paddy and Caroline from Sydney. They’ve been living on their boat for 12 years and were really nice people, who invited us to stay for dinner. We had a wonderful time, enjoyed beautifully cooked pasta and had a lovely chat.

Now we are anchored at Deep Bay, just a bit north from Jolly Harbour. It’s nice here, beautiful beach and quiet anchorage. This bay is also right next to Galley Bay where we surfed on Saturday. It seems like we could get some waves in the next few days, so we are going to hang around here and see what happens. Roy and Elaine (South African friends onboard Paw Paw) will be here in a couple of days so we said we’d wait for them to come and enjoy some time together. Can’t complain, life is good at the moment and from here on, no more beating to the east but hopefully a nice glide down south.

 P.S. It’s Sunday morning. We have stopped in Carlile Bay on our way to Falmouth Harbour where we will be for the rest of the week. We caught up with Elaine and Roy and had a great time with them. We even went got a ride to St John’s, Antigua’s capital city, on their dinghy yesterday and had a chance to buy some fresh fruit and veggies from the local market.

Author: Isabel Romero

founder of Mingas por el Mar

2 thoughts on “Island hopping”

  1. Mick and Izzy. Great to see you two really getting into a wonderful cruising lifestyle in the Caribbean you are going places i haven,t been to now its all looking great ,also some waves very cool ,hope you get more .
    Keep up the fantastic pics and good story,s about your travels a great read . Till the next one bye Paul.

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