So after nearly a month in
Antigua we are moving on. We are all
stocked up and had a EC$1200 shopping bill. Not quite so bad when you divide by
4, but still pretty shocking! We are hoping that the dry goods and drinks will get
us to St Martin at the end of March. This is a
large and is reputed to be excellent
for stocking up before heading into the expensive BVI’s. We are making the most
of the cheap fresh meat as it may be the last we have for a while. French Island
We set off at 9am having checked out of Jolly Harbour Marina and treated ourselves to chocolate croissants and fresh coffee from the Epicurean supermarket. We expected no wind but there was some so we hoisted the main and even the spinnaker, but after an hour there was not a breath and we motored the majority of the 40 miles to Charlestown in Nevis. A fairly uneventful trip, except for the catching of a little tunny and spotting a whale. Typical with a fridge full of fresh food we catch a fish. With no useby dates on food, I am sure we are making fresh food last longer by the simple sniff test.
Nevis as we approach.
Nevis with St Kitts in the distance.
We picked up a buoy in Charlestown which is the capital. There are nearly 100 buoys laid. I don’t know why, as in the whole time we were there, I think probably 15 boats used them. It is also amusing that boats cluster with others. There are masses to choose from but a boat will pick the one up next to you. This is nice when they are your friends but annoying when they are a big motor boat with a generator running or a charter boat having an alcohol fuelled row.
The next day was Saturday and Russell went ashore to clear customs whilst I did school. It cost EC$ 30 at customs but when we finally managed to check in with the port authority we were relieved of a further EC$ 160. This did include US$ 25 for the mooring buoy for a week. You are not allowed to anchor if buoys are provided and if they have all gone you still have to pay the fee for using your anchor. The other fees were US$5 per person for national park fees plus some environmental taxes. Still compared to the
it is cheap, however at least in
they tend to have more shelter rather than being open to the sea. UK
We went for a walk ashore in the afternoon tying the dinghy at the town dock where a number of ferries come from St Kitts daily. We went to tourist Information but as it was Saturday it was shut. We were able to pick a map up from the customs office which was useful. The taxi drivers were all touting for business but we just took a stroll up the beech and settled for a spot off Sunshine’s bar. This was brightly coloured and draft beer was EC$ 5 so we had a couple whilst the boys surfed in the waves whilst looking at our yacht. This is becoming fairly routine now and I am not sure what we are going to replace it with when back in the UK.
The boys were a little concerned at the number of pelicans that were dive bombing for fish very close to them.. The boys were surprised to see monkeys, unfortunately these were tethered to a bar and you could photo them for a fee of US$ 5, which was a shame as they run wild around the rest of the island.
For school we decided to do junk modeling and make some model boats.
After school it was time for some fun on the new outrage.
On Sunday we took the boat a few miles north to Oualie beach with the plan of hiring bikes from Winston. He was shut on Sundays and despite Chris Doyle saying it was a sheltered anchorage, on this day it was not, so we retreated back to where we had started. At least it had charged the batteries and given us hot water so not completely a waste of time.
We then decided to go to the Golden Rock Inn which is a boutique hotel with 11 rooms. http://www.goldenrocknevis.com/home.htm
We decided to have lunch as then you could use the pool and Chris Doyle guide said it was a pleasant couple of hour walk back to
along tracks and old plantation roads. We set off having put on our smartest shorts and ARC polo shirts so that we were not quite so scruffy in the nice hotel. We had to get a taxi costing EC$45 as no busses run on Sunday. John our taxi driver drove like a nutter because he wanted to get back for the wind jammer (http://www.islandwindjammers.com/our-fleet.aspx#diamantthat) had just arrived and likely held the key to a lucrative island tour for him. We said we were happy to be dropped on the main road and walk up so he could make it back in time. We walked past a church doing Sunday service. The preacher boomed out about hell and damnation and ripping children from wombs. The boys wondered what was going on. Charlestown
It was very laid back though and we were warmly welcomed and had a lovely chat with the new manager called Peter. He had only been there 5 months and was keen as everyone is to hear about our adventures of sailing from the UK. I am thinking that a T shirt with “we left the UK in August and it took 17 days to cross the Atlantic…” so we don’t have to repeat ourselves, might be a good idea. I am hoping the kids lack of enthusiasm when asked “and what do you boys think of the adventure?” is down to them being asked the same question every other day rather than them actually not enjoying the trip.
The food was fab and not badly priced at around £60 for the 4 of us and that included my lobster sandwich which came with salad and fries. We didn’t need to worry about our children disrupting the other diners, as a large table filled with Americans celebrating a 60th birthday was next to us. They spoke very loudly about the events of the week and some bits were a little close to the knuckle. Oli had spotted that one of the men had put the camera under the table and taken pictures of the ladies. The camera was then passed to other men asking who the pictures were of. Apparently one lady had see through knickers on, so I am guessing the camera had a good zoom. One of the ladies apologised when I bumped into her in the toilets. I said not to worry, but they had learnt a new game. The women obviously had no idea that the photos had been taken and I think Oli probably got the men into a lot of trouble.
We enjoyed a refreshing dip in the pool with the back drop of the big mountain behind us and views across the sea. Conscious of our couple of hour walk back we set off. This was not easy as the map was quite vague, but finally a house keeping staff pointed us in the right direction and we enjoyed walking most of the way back.
Being a Sunday the deserted tracks were empty and every so often we came across houses with children who wanted to talk and look at our map, give us directions and generally break the journey. One little girl who was probably 3 or 4 told us“we don’t let white people round here” which made us giggle. We apologised and continued on our way.
The views were great and a real contrast as we headed through the old plantations, many which are now hotels. We stopped at the Hermitage for a sprite and headed off again. It took us nearly 3 hours to get back and our feet were definitely feeling it. The boys did brilliantly, although they did say never again and I have to say I was in agreement with them. The sandwiches I had made thinking we would be going on a bike ride were waiting in the fridge and we ate these for dinner whilst watching and Indiana Jones film.
The monkeys. They are green vervet monkeys and were brought to the isalnds in the 17th century and kept as pets.
Glad we chose to walk back. At least it was mainly downhill.
The next day we were rather stiff and settled for a day of school and booking bikes to do a gentle cycle around the island on the guides recommendation of reasonably flat roads. Our friends Chris and Steve said they were going to hire bikes too. We set off back to Oualie beach on the boat and all went ashore where we picked up the bikes and started off clockwise as advised. It was all fairly nice and we zipped along on good quality hire bikes at a cost of US$ 90 for the 4 of us. Then the undulating hills started. We did more up than down and steadily we got higher and more tired. The Waitrose biscuits and water were keeping us going and on many occasion we had to resort to pushing the bikes up the hills. Russell and Oli managed to cycle up the really steep hill, whilst I cajoled and pushed Ethan and my bike up it. Ethan has 2 speeds when riding a bike. You either can’t catch him or he has stopped refusing to go any further. This continued for most of the day but we did get round. Chris and Steve decided to take it easy and we went to Peak Heaven which we had been recommended to have a good kids play area. We were told it was ¼ of a mile off the main road. This turned out to be pretty much straight up and it was a hot and very hard struggle to get up there. The historic village of Rawlins (close by) is elevated 1200 ft above sea-level. The view was amazing, the beer tasted better than ever and we ate our picnic and the boys played. It took us 45 minutes to push the bikes up and less than 10 minutes to get down. The brakes were on non stop and Ethan quickly learnt that brakes were required when pushing as well as riding. I am surprised I had any brakes left when we got to the main road and Russell’s were actually smoking. We all agreed that Peak Heaven was lovely and better got to by taxi.
Above - not a runway but a dragrace strip! (www.stjamesraceway.com/)
Below- the view from Peace Heaven.
I managed to catch my hair in the chain. Serves me right for trying to be a kid i guess.
Luckily the rest of the way was pretty much downhill or flat. We stopped at sunshine’s and caught up with Chris and Steve. Frustratingly for them they could see their boat still on the mooring, but knew there was 4 miles to get back to our starting point. They were tempted to swim to the boat and get Winston to come get his bikes but we all plodded back on to the end. The legs were jelly like and the bum a little sore but we all agreed that we had enjoyed the day but we would not be trying the island cycling tour again.
We motored back down to Charlestown and I made a chicken curry for all of us plus friends from “Ruffian”, Ian and Fiona. We had a lovely evening even if we did consume a bit too much wine.
The next day we went ashore and in search of some hot baths that Ian and Fiona had visited the day before. They were free to use. It was quite a strange place. The river was fed by a spring which produced really hot water. The local people told us how it had changed over the years as they had created a tiled pool and also dammed the river. They seemed to be doing a lot of work on one of the pools and I wonder if once they have tidied up the area if they will start charging to visit. The pools were seriously hot. Its water temperature ranges from 104F to 108F degrees and you could barely put your feet in, never loan the whole of your body. I found it was easiest to just get in, but you could only do a minute or so before feeling like you were boiling. It was really interesting talking to the local people who come here everyday to bathe. In one you can use soap. I was tempted to bring my washing.
We stopped of at a supermarket and picked up a few bits before heading off to St Kitts. We had really enjoyed our time on Nevis.
Told that the water had magical properties, Russell rubbed it on his head hoping it would cure baldness.