St Kitts part I

Sun 18 May 2008 14:15
17.13N 62.39W
Whitehouse Bay, St Kitts
We've spent a lot of time in this lovely wide bay on this peninsular at the southern end of St Kitts. The beach is large stones, so not popular with anyone except an occasional fisherman, and although it gets surprisingly rolly at anchor, the waves on the beach are minimal, so landing the dinghy is a dream - we even found a large stone with a hole in it to tie to !!
Here's the (sorry, belated as usual) story of what we've done here over the last 2 weeks:
On Wed 30 April we sailed from Nevis across the narrow straits to the southern end of St Kitts, into Shitten Bay.  No idea why it's called that - it's lovely - dead quiet, small amout of beach with large stones, steep lowish cliffs with bleating goats prancing about and pelicans flying around and diving for fish.  The snorkelling is great - some local daytripper catamarans have set 3 buoys and use them for an hour or two each day, otherwise we saw no more boats there.  Except for a great surprise - we'd just finished anchoring when we noticed another yacht sailing straight towards us - we were just about to shout when it came alongside and we realised it was Manketti, with Brian Egerton, who Syd had encouraged to buy that Hylas whilst we were at the ARC seminar last year.  We'd only seen him briefly during the ARC as he'd had to go back to the UK as soon as he arrived.  Even that day, he was on his way to the BVIs to get his boat shipped back to the UK so he couldn't even stop for lunch, but he said he was enjoying the Hylas very much, as expected, just too many business and personal pressures so he was having to stay in the UK for the next couple of years.  So we had lunch, did lots of snorkelling (Syd even saw his first underwater turtle) and stayed the night, it was so peaceful.
The next day we motored into Basseterre, the main town on St Kitts, anchored outside the little marina and dinghy'd in to town to do the usual bank, shops, lunch, internet jobs. It was too rolly to stay there overnight, so we motored/sailed very slowly in light winds with the genoa up, back down the southern peninsular to Whitehouse Bay.  On the Friday we snorkelled around the wrecks in the bay(which Annabel found a bit spooky; is she ever going to make a scuba diver?) and went ashore for a little walk.  There's a large salt lake behind this beach, surrounded by nothing but the scrubby(thorny!) steep hills populated by goats and a few cows.  A new road was built down the peninsular a few years ago, but just serves the new vehicle ferry to Nevis, however there's quite a lot of new development starting around it, and several tracks, sometimes even with street lights run up into the hills.  We also noticed the track along from 'our' bay to the next one had been worked on recently, and the sea inlet to the salt lake had been cleared a bit.  Syd commented that it would make a great marina area, like Rodney Bay and some of the other lagoon-style bays we've anchored in on other islands. 
The dinghy access, tracks and quiet road looked conducive to biking so on Sunday Syd put the bikes together and we explored the southern end of the peninsular a bit, finding some fabulous large unpopulated bays, and one patch of upmarket developent overlooking the straits to Nevis and the Atlantic.  Having had an easy ride mostly on the flat that day, on the Monday(bank holiday here too) we decided to get as far as we could up the island.  There were several steep hills up and down the peninsular, but all on the tarmac, so Annabel didn't walk too much and Syd waited patiently(or maybe glad of the rest...?!) at the top.  The last hill came down into the main development area of Frigate Bay, where there's a large Marriot hotel with some new and old holiday apartments.  Suddenly we were in America-by-the-sea, with shiny 4x4 vehicles gliding past, pizza restuarants, banks, a large golf course.  Using the normal 'tourist map', the road/track we were using to keep away from the main road and along the coast somehow turned into the lovely concrete paths round the golf course, made for the golf buggys and just right for cycling.  We managed to go quite a way through before a groundsman came and chased us out into another maze of estate roads with lampposts and no houses.  We followed this along, past a REALLY STINKY salt pond and the island's rubbish dump, back up to the main road.  It wasn't too busy, so we cracked on, up and down hills, enjoying the views out to the Atlantic, but not particularly scenic inland, hoping to find a nice village cafe for lunch, but no joy, so we eventually found a bench in the shade and ate our melting cheese sarnie and Snickers bar.  We went on a little further, getting into a more agricultural area with sugar cane fields (like grass/wheat, about 5-6ft high), but we couldn't easily see the road on the map which led back over the hills to Basseterre and as we were mindful of the hills on the peninsular on the way back to the boat, we didn't fancy one of our long explorations on roads that didn't exist.  And even Annabel was getting a little tired of tarmac(!!!)(well, the traffic, light as it was, and the heat).  So we slammed back down the road, getting caught by a really heavy rain shower just as we were starting to look for an ice cream in Frigate Bay, had a coke at a beach shack there which just gave us enough energy to tackle the hills on the way back.  At least we didn't get any more punctures having kept on the road all day - forgot to mention that Annabel had 2 after the first day and Syd 1, so more inner tubes and patches required !!!  So not the most interesting of rides, and we really noticed our lack of fitness, but saw a few wild monkeys and some fabulous views and marvelled at the amount of development on the island.
Tuesday 6 May we'd had enough wilderness and the bay was getting quite rolly, so Syd packed up the bikes and we motored into the little marina at Basseterre because we wanted to spend quite a bit of time in town on the internet and maybe investigate the housing developments for potential investment for Syd.  The next day we did a bit of shopping, cleared out of customs for the next island and Annabel managed to book her tickets on the internet for her trip back to the UK for a few weeks from Venezuela, whilst Syd investigated banks, developments and 'new' boats on the internet.  Annabel also found that her bank card had been 'cloned' in Antigua and used in Atlanta.  We'd been told of an ongoing problem with a particular cashpoint in Antigua, unfortunately just after Annabel had used it.  Looking at the Caribbean cruising websites, several other people we know had been affected, and one of the people Annabel spoke to at the Nationwide knew about it, but it took several phone calls which resulted in a cancelled card(and a refund of the false debits), and we're watching Syd's accounts very carefully.   It's fortunate that Annabel will be able to collect her new card in a few weeks' time, because we haven't tried picking up post here and don't expect it to be easy as we don't often stay in one place for more than a week or so, or spend much time in marinas which often offer post collection services.  Such are the joys of long-term travel ! How would we manage without the internet ?  We treated ourselves to a meal out and in talking to the restuarant owner afterwards, discovered a bit more about the development programme for the peninsular, including a marina in the salt lake just where we thought it should be !