Nobody's a stranger on Nevis

Chiscos - Atlantic Cruise
John Simpson
Sat 31 Mar 2012 17:22
17:08.959n 062:37.832w
We were up early for our sail to Nevis from Barbuda, leaving the anchorage at 6.30 am.  The wind would be directly behind us all the way so we hoisted the Parasailor almost immediately.  We had a fantastic sail, averaging 7-8 knots an hour in winds blowing around 20 knots.  John held the speed record for surfing down a wave at 10.9 knots; though the rest of us put in considerable effort, no-one else could quite beat him.  I put my lack of success down to having both of my watches over mealtimes so I had to steer with one hand - that's my excuse anyway!  Amazingly, we were able to keep the Parasailor up until we were within half a mile of where we planned to stay on Nevis!  It had been a very pleasant crossing and we arrived off Charlestown and Pinneys Beach mid-afternoon.  There were around a hundred mooring buoys laid out for visiting yachts, and very few visitors to use them. There were never more than 10-15 yachts in the bay.  The bay was sheltered from the wind by Nevis Peak, which is the central point of the island and over 3,000 ft high.  The top of the mountain was generally shrouded in cloud and the weather changed remarkably quickly through a cycle of sun, wind, calm, cloud, rain, more sun....   It is always hot though!
On our first evening we went ashore in the dinghy to eat at Sunshines.  This was quite a tricky moment which involved driving the dinghy at speed at the beach, which shelves very steeply right at the last moment, and then hopping out and whisking the dinghy up the beach before the waves could break into the dinghy.  We didn't quite get it right the first time and Clair spent the evening at the restaurant in some very damp shorts!  Despite that, we had a lovely meal and soaked up the very Caribbean atmosphere.  Joe had a bit of advice from 'Mr Sunshine', who shared with him the news that his grandfather had fathered 35 children and put his success down to regular meals of Conch.  Joe said the Conch was very tasty!
The next day we went ashore in Charlestown, where we went through the 'checking in' process for St Kitts and Nevis. 
Checking in involved a visit to a little room at the Port, followed by Customs in a room upstairs above a nearby Beauty Salon and finishing with a few minutes upstairs above the Magistrates Court down the High Street for Immigration; we were officially in!  We wandered around the town marvelling at the strange content of the shops and the variously ramshackle state of the buildings, doing some shopping in the supermarket and the fruit/veg market, before stopping for a welcome drink at the Cafe des Arts.  Food was served from a picturesque little shack in a garden where Cockerels strode around crowing as we took our afternoon tea.
That evening we again took the dinghy over to the beach, this time managing to disemark with only a little dampness around the edges!  The previous evening we had left Sunshines and walked along the beach looking for a second restaurant that we had been told was there, but couldn't find it.  Having asked the lady from Cafe des Arts, we went armed with the instruction that we couldn't miss it because it was about 10 feet from Sunshines, and sure enough there it was.  As we approached The Mighty Chevy in the dusk, the lights came on and we saw that we had indeed walked straight past it the previous night.  It seems that the tourist trade is difficult at the moment and the beach restaurants only put their lights on when they have customers; presumably Chevys had packed up and gone home early when no-one had turned up the night before.  As we arrived, we were greeted by Amelia, who was delighted to hear our accents as she originates from Leeds!  We were the only diners and our food, freshly cooked for us, was delicious.  Afterwards, we were joined by Chevy, the chef/owner, who sat with us and told us his life story.  He had moved from Nevis to London where he had trained as a social worker, subsequently moving to Chapeltown in Leeds to work with the Caribbean community there.  He had met Amelia in Leeds (her family was originally from St Lucia) and they had moved back to Nevis to start their bar in 2000.  We got the impression that it was a difficult life running a beachfront bar.  Their original bar had been destroyed in a hurricane and they had rebuilt the present version a little way back from the beach in 2009.  The bounciness of the floors made it difficult to believe that this version would be very long-lasting!  We finally took our leave of our new friends, and John was delighted to be given a sticker for Chiscos that he had admired in Chevy's bar - Nobody's a Stranger on Nevis.
Next stop - St Kitts.