17 15 000N 62 39 500W
The sail from Barbuda to St Kitts was about 55 miles so we had a reasonable start in the morning and followed Pannikin out between the reefs, then set a course to St Kitts downwind. We tried goosewing with the main and genoa but it didn’t work in the strong swell, and when a squall approached we dropped the mainsail and sailed with the genoa and mizzen alone. We had a wonderful 9.5 hour sail, reaching St Kitts south coast and passing through ‘The Narrows’ between Nevis and St Kitts and then sailing up the West Coast to find shelter for the night in Ballast Bay, arriving just as light was fading. The day had been very hot, and we both caught the sun for the first time despite the factor 30.
The wind howled across the narrow strip of land and battered the bay all night, it seems to get channelled through the mountains gaining speed as it comes down into the bay. We were glad to move the following day, and had a long and drawn out checking in at Basse Terre which involved a long walk to the airport to have our passports stamped as the Immigration lady at the port had gone home early. We were followed all the way by two stray bitches, they zig zagged across the busy road causing havoc with the traffic, determined to keep following us…right up to the entrance doors of the airport terminal!
Jez’s parents arrived the following day, and we spent a couple of days anchored at South Friars Bay opposite the Shipwreck Bar, snorkelling and chilling. It was here we spotted our first rays swimming on the sandy bottom, with dozens of beautiful star fish. We explored St Kitts by taxi, Terry from ‘Give Thanks’ was our great driver, visiting the beautifully restored great house, Fairview, and Romney Manor gardens. Lots of lovely plants to see and spectacular views out to sea.
A short sail to Nevis brought further delights, we took up a mooring buoy just off Pinney’s Beach which has a great bar/restaurant called ‘Sunshines ’ and the famous Killer Bee rum punch. The island also has a great Botanical Garden with a very good Thai style restaurant so we enjoyed a few hours here with a superb lunch. We also had a great tour of the island, seeing the ruins of one of 32 sugar cane plants which dates back to the 1800’s and was finally abandoned in the 1950’s. We also had a stop at the natural mineral springs where water comes from the volcanic mountain at 105 degrees F, boasting great healing powers. Geoff was the only one brave enough to immerse himself fully in the spring baths. The water is so hot, it takes a while for your skin to get used to the temperature and Jane, Jez and I soaked just our feet instead.
We spent a few days on Nevis, walking the beach and exploring, and saw our first wild monkeys here! The usual goats, sheep and chicken all roam around the streets and surrounding countryside, cattle tethered in various places even right down to the beach. The locals were very friendly and the food excellent.
Whilst Jane and Geoff were with us we decided on a sail to St Barths also, and returned to St Kitts ready to check out, anchoring for the night in White House Bay. This was very quiet and reasonably protected, and a quick snorkel before the sun went down revealed a couple of cannons lying on the sea bed, apparently part of a 17th century wreck, and a coral reef closer to shore, and we decided to have a longer snorkel the next day before leaving to head north.
The following morning, Jez was in first and off to the reef, Geoff followed just for a dip close to the boat. I was next, and as I held on to the bathing ladder to rinse out my mask, I noticed a dark figure lurking behind the steps under water, slowly edging towards me. I stared for a few seconds, trying to make out what it was, and then teeth glinted in a ray of sunshine and I was up the ladder like a shock. The dark toothy figure came out from Joy’s shadow revealing a rather large fish – maybe a Barracuda, but much fatter and darker than we had encountered before. Geoff was soon to get back on board and we watched from the deck as this large creature moved very slowly around the steps. I was so intrigued I got my toes back in just far enough to put my face in the water with my goggles on, just to get a good look at this large seemingly docile creature. Jez returned to take us to the reef, and when he realised we had this huge fish shadowing us, he circled the boat coming up behind him and getting back on board. Then another appeared, smaller and slightly greyer than the other, and together they guarded the steps, occasionally going under the rudder and back around again. We watched them for about an hour, and then gave up on our snorkel as these fish would not leave us, and it was time to go north ready for our sail to St Barth’s the following day. We renamed this place ‘Barracuda Bay’!