St. Maarten, St. Bart’s, Nevis and St. Kitts and a One-Year Anniversary (May 26 – June 2, 2016)

We are definitely working on a latitude adjustment! Finally we are really traveling south. If you look at a map you will see that most of our trip since leaving Florida has had an easterly component, or at least southeasterly, but now we are pretty much just heading south. Currently we are in St. Kitts, at latitude 17 degrees, 35 minutes. For comparison, back in Canada last summer Bay Fine, our most northerly destination, was at 48 degrees 60 minutes. Our insurance policy dictates that, by July 1st, we need to be out of the hurricane zone, which is below 12 degrees, 30 minutes; for us that will be Grenada. We are on our way.

Leaving the British Virgin Islands was as hard for me as I expected. The seas on our overnight trip to St. Maarten didn’t make it any easier. The waves were five or six feet and the swells were under eight seconds. Both Kirby and Jake were a bit traumatized by the big seas, and I was not a happy camper either. Our anchorage in Simpson’s Bay on the Dutch side of the island was a bit rolly, something that is never welcome after an overnight trip. The 16-hour trip ended around 8:30 AM, and we all needed a rest before venturing out on the dinghy for lunch.

Probably an explanation is needed as to why we would travel overnight to do a 16-hour trip. Anchoring at night is difficult and dangerous; some anchorages are surrounded by reefs or other obstructions that cannot be seen when it is dark. It is, however, safe to travel on the open seas at night. There is far less boat traffic at night, and, with the use of radar, it is fairly easy to see ships that are nearby. If trips are planned carefully, they begin in daylight and are completed after sunrise, allowing good sight lines for anchoring. I understand the rationale for overnight trips, but I hate them, and so does John. Hopefully there will be no more for a very long time for AfterMath and her crew.

IMG_3504St. Martin’s French sideIMG_3513Rosemary’s daughter was quite the sales lady when we were choosing a restaurant.  This type of restaurant is called a lolo.  It is open air, has a wooden roof and lovely little tables.  Also it has delicious food!

IMG_3517Along the streets of St. Martin
IMG_3524IMG_3527IMG_3528I could have spent a whole day just taking pictures of this building.

St. Maarten/St. Martin is an interesting island in that it is part Dutch and part French. There is a lagoon that is shared by both countries in the interior. Boats anchor in the lagoon, but we did not as the bridges that need to be opened to allow access in and out operate on a limited schedule that would have prohibited our planned early departure for the next day. We did go to shore with the dinghy, though, and had lunch on the French side before walking around the town. A stop at the boat store on the way back and a ride over to watch the low flying planes take off near the beach completed our shore time on the island.

The day we arrived in St. Maarten, May 26th, was a momentous occasion for us as it marked exactly one year since we left Mystic, CT and started our voyage. In that year we traveled 4920 nautical miles, which is 5662 statute (regular) miles. We visited 10 states, 33 islands, and 10 countries. It is so hard to believe that a whole year has passed by. We have seen so much and yet there is so much left to do.

IMG_3539St. Bart’sIMG_3535I have a few grandchildren who might think this slide would be fun!

After the long trip to St. Maarten, we decided a short day was called for on Friday. St. Bart’s was only about 20 miles south, so we took a leisurely, but still rough, ride to get there. Once there, we pulled into in the harbor in Gustavia, only to be curtly told that there was no room for us on any mooring and there would not be any room all day. I would have liked to walk around the town there, but it was not to be. Not too far away was a national park with a very nice beach, so we turned AfterMath around and found a mooring in a lovely setting there. The only problem was, because it was too far for the dinghy in heavy seas, we couldn’t get to town. Therefore, we could not clear customs and we had to stay on the boat instead of ever making it to land.

IMG_3545The sight at the dinghy dock in Nevis.IMG_3547IMG_3548IMG_3549While this Royal Poinciana tree was probably planted here, they grow wild throughout the islands.  We were told they are called Flamboyant Trees here.IMG_3551The extinct volcano on Nevis from our anchorage.  The top is almost always covered in clouds according to the locals.

We decided this boat’s owner was a Gator fan, but others think he might be a Met’s fan!

The following day, Saturday, we arrived in Nevis. Although that is an island that many are not familiar with, it is part of the country that is made up of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is two miles south of St. Kitts and is an island that is much the same now as it was many years ago. There is a ferry that runs back and forth from St. Kitts to Nevis, which is how tourists who arrive by cruise ship can visit. Again the anchorage was, unfortunately, rolly and, again, the weather dictated that we needed to stay more than one night.

A fun note on getting to Nevis was that John called me from the dinghy deck, about 12 feet above the water, to tell me that I had finally caught a fish! I wasn’t at all sure what he meant, but I went up there to see, and, sure enough, there was a fish on the deck. Apparently one of those crazy flying fish we see when in deep water misjudged his flight and landed right next to the dinghy. I had seen quite a few seagulls following us for a while and had no idea what they were doing. After finding the fish I realized they were trying to help themselves to a tasty, free meal.

IMG_3560One of the friendly St. Kitts Coasties during our boardingIMG_3563IMG_3557The seas were rough for them to climb off and on our boat, but they did just fine.  These two stayed on the boat while the others came aboard AfterMath.

By Sunday night it became obvious that the seas would not be in our favor for a few days, so we decided to move 10 miles north and get a dock at a marina in St. Kitts. On our way, because we finally had calm seas, I dropped a line in the water from my fishing pole and took a seat in the cockpit to watch over it and wait for that fish I was hoping to catch. All of the sudden, I noticed a boat that looked like a police boat quickly approaching us. Soon the lights came on and I knew they would be stopping us for something. I pulled in my line, and called John to tell him the situation. It turned out to be St. Kitts Coast Guard aboard a Customs boat, wanting to come aboard. I know most boaters dread this situation, but, because I knew we were safe and had nothing we shouldn’t have, I looked at it as a great photo opportunity. John handled all the documentation and showing them our safety equipment while I took a few pictures. All was well, and we were back on our way. I thought it was just a few minutes, but John tells me it took about ½ hour. Time flies when you are having fun!

Once in the marina I was so happy to be able to be at a dock where we could have power to do some cooking and baking and to do laundry. Also, it’s nice to be somewhere every now and then where you don’t need to take a dinghy to get to shore. Soon after we arrived on Monday I was off and exploring the town.

IMG_3565St. Kitts cruise dock.IMG_3566The cruise ship shops while no ships are in port.

St. Kitts is a destination for cruise boats and, true to form, there are streets lined with shops near the cruise docks for when they arrive. We are here out of season, and up until today, there have been no ships at all, so the shops have been mostly closed and it has been quiet and empty. However, we were told that when in season, up to 12,000 people walk around the area on any given day. It is so hard to imagine what those streets must be like! I am anxious to take a walk today to see the difference one cruise ship can make on this sleepy little island with a total population of only 40,000 people.

IMG_3582The bakery in St. KittsIMG_3586Scenes around Basseterre on St. KittsIMG_3589IMG_3591

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We always prefer the less touristy areas, and, instead of browsing through the upscale shops, we went for lunch and a walk on Tuesday in the historic district. Here there are stores, restaurants, tiny street side stands of fruits and vegetables, little stands with chaffing dishes full of local favorites, and taxis galore. Buildings are old, and sometimes in disrepair, but it is here that you get the flavor of what St. Kitts is really like. We walked into a tiny bakery to buy some rolls for breakfast and in the little space there, people sat on the windowsill, drinking beer and chatting with their friends.

IMG_3578The CircusIMG_3579IMG_3581

IMG_3607In the rainforestIMG_3707
IMG_3617An old sugar mill and rum distilleryIMG_3638IMG_3651

IMG_3646IMG_3661

IMG_3673Mangoes, and more mangoes everywhere!IMG_3679Watching a demonstration about how batik fabric is made.IMG_3682IMG_3690IMG_3692Gorgeous colors – all done by hand.IMG_3704

IMG_3546At Fort BrimstoneIMG_3722John climbing the stairway to heaven??
IMG_3723IMG_3518IMG_3525

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IMG_3742Black sand.  The result of volcanic activity.IMG_3557The point at which the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans meetIMG_3747Black rocks deposited by the volcano.IMG_3752You can be sure this is open today while the cruise ship is in port!IMG_3754These guys were just hanging out near the lava rock over view.

One of my wishes for St. Kitts, because we had a few days there, was to take a tour of the island. Looking on Trip Advisor, I found a service that was highly recommended: Rose and Jim’s Tour and Taxi. We found Jim in the center of town, called the Circus because it was modeled after London’s Piccadilly Circus, and we made arrangements for him to pick us up on Wednesday. We found Jim to be a wonderful guide. He was easy to understand (although people on St. Kitts speak English, sometimes the dialect is difficult to catch) and very knowledgeable. He was born on the island, lived in London for over 20 years, but came back to St. Kitts many years ago. Jim explained that St. Kitts official name is St. Christopher, but years ago “Christopher” was shortened and now the island is known by both names. He showed us a rainforest and sugar mill, a batik factory where beautiful fabrics are made, Fort Brimstone, the place where the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans collide, a black sand beach, and a beach populated with black boulders formed from lava from the now extinct volcano on the island. John, Craig from La Sirena, and I were the only ones on the tour so we had lots of personal attention from Jim.

`Yesterday was a workday for John and for me. We both had jobs that we needed to do around the boat, but it was so nice to be able to have time to get things done without any rough or rolly seas. We expect to leave for Nevis again tomorrow, Saturday, June 4th. This will be our staging anchorage for our next stop, Montserrat. We had hoped to have time to stop and tour that island and learn more about the volcano that is still active there, but, again, the weather is king. We have only two good days for this next leg and we want to take advantage of them. After Montserrat we will move to Guadeloupe, where we will spend a couple of days. Every island now is a little farther south and a little closer to 12 degrees, 30 minutes. Truly, when we reach Grenada, we will have changed our attitudes and latitudes!

A few latitudes for perspective:

City or Country Latitude
Ottawa, Canada 45.42 degrees
New York, NY 40.47 degrees
Charleston, SC 32.47 degrees
Jacksonville, FL 30.22 degrees
Miami, FL 25.46 degrees
San Juan, PR 18.30 degrees
St. Lucia 13.90 degrees
Grenada 12.11 degrees
AND, not on this trip: Quito, Ecuador 0.18 degrees

Here is where we are today.

IMG_2145IMG_2146

7 thoughts on “St. Maarten, St. Bart’s, Nevis and St. Kitts and a One-Year Anniversary (May 26 – June 2, 2016)

  1. All sounds so awesome except for the rolling seas. My bride would not make it. We love hearing from you guys. Your blog is excellent, well written and fantastic pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All IS awesome except the rolling seas, but we are in a good weather window now and enjoyed yesterday and today at sea. We will hang out in Isles de Saintes for a couple of days and continue south with excellent wave forecasts for at least a week! Maybe we paid our dues!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I jealous ! When we did the Great Loop, we traveled about the same miles (5,600 miles) as you are at now. The difference is, you have done and seen so much more. We are reading all of your blogs and it almost feels like we are with you. The photography and writings are terrific . Please keep the blogs coming.

    Bob & Monique Gutierrez
    Holmes Beach, FL
    monique_bob@hotmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

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