Antigua to St Kitts

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 24 Mar 2009 15:21
It was an early morning start, leaving Jolly Harbour at 06.30 and heading west to St Kitts. Choosing to go round the southern side of Nevis gave an overall distance of about 55 miles.This was our first downwind sail since the Atlantic and a very pleasant change. Unfortunately the winds were light before we started and going downwind reduced them even further, so it was back to light-wind sailing and trying to get the most from every puff. Both genoas were out, together with the main, so all sails up. The windward genoa was poled out and although not much wind we still managed 6 to 7 kts. So, with a relatively flat sea, it was good sail all the way to Nevis, just to the south of St Kitts. We even carried the wind round the south coast of Nevis as the wind was bent round the island, but, once heading north up the west coast of Nevis the wind came round the other side of the Island and was dead on the nose, requiring the help of the engine to motorsail - tacking up the west coast. Having passed Nevis (we planned to stop there on the return journey south) we anchored off the capital of St. Kitts, Basseterre, to join a small number of other boats.
A view of the hills from the anchorage off Basseterre
Looking out to the west from the anchorage as the sun went down
The sky catches fire as the sun drops further
Couldn't resist this one - see the figure walking off to the left and the reindeer jumping over the crocodile to the right - perhaps we've been at sea too long!
Like many of the volcanic islands, St Kitts is mountainous with settlements around the coast. Basseterre is the only town and in places quite pretty, but we wanted to try White House Bay on the southwest of the island which supposedly had good snorkeling. So the following day, having cleared customs and immigration,  it was a short sail down and we anchored in the middle of the bay with just 2 other boats. Unfortunately the reefs had been damaged by the hurricanes of recent years and were mostly covered in sand, but it was a nice setting and very peaceful. But the weather forecasts predicted yet another northerly swell, so after a night at White House it was round to Major's Bay on the south coast to get more protection and again just 2 boats were there, but a different 2. Major's Bay was not a good idea!  Having anchored as it got dark, the swell came round the east of the island, the wind went up to 20 to 30 kts, changed direction to put us on a lee shore and one of the other boats, a 60ft boat a long way from us, dragged to within a few feet from our bow just before midnight. Having alerted them with all the horns and loud hailers we have (they were still asleep), they moved back across the bay and we stood anchor watches for the rest of the night - 2 hours on and 2 off. In the morning it was back to Basseterre and with the northerly swell predicted to increase, we risked going into the tiny square Port Zante harbour/marina - very tight with cross winds! Port Zante is a new complex build to receive cruise liners - St Kitts main industry now. The marina is quite pretty and although small, pelicans would dive to catch fish alongside the locals using seine nets from rowing boats. The cruise dock and shore buildings though are all glitzy with more jewellers than we have ever seen in one place! The 'proper' town of Basseterre is old and quite atmospheric.  
Aurora B in Port Zante Marina - getting tied up between the posts was quite a feat in 20kts of cross wind - it took 2 goes!
A Pelican looks out for fish on one of the lights overlooking the marina