Pinney's Beach, Nevis
Date: Tuesday 7th January 2014
Position: 17:08.985N 62:37.866W
On the morning of Friday 3rd January we set off from Jolly Harbour, Antigua bound for the island of Nevis, just over 40 miles to the west. The seas were still very lumpy from the previous days strong winds but the winds were benign. We arrived in the late afternoon and found a mooring buoy about a mile north of the town of Charleston.
Nevis is an approximately oval shaped island, with a large mountain, also called Nevis, rising in its middle to just over 3200 feet. It is all very green and the mountain is high enough to generate rain clouds, which clothe its upper slopes in constantly changing veils of silver and grey. Several times a day these descend to sea level and provide short periods of vigorous rainfall and gusty winds.
In the morning we took the dinghy into town (Charlestown) to complete the checking in formalities. It was about a mile away, but with our new outboard engine, no trouble at all, although the promised stronger winds had returned during the night so it was a fairly wet ride. The customs and immigration were right in the middle of town so we soon found them and went in to start the procedures.
Some of the buildings in Charlestown
That morning Eileen had had a text message from her bank, that required her to phone them to sort out some problems. There was a wi-fi signal in the harbour office so I used my iPhone to set up a Skype call to her bank. This combination of technologies confused her a little and combined with the byzantine hoops that banks require you to jump through these days to do any business with them over the phone she was becoming increasingly stressed as the call continued. I left her to finish her call whilst I went in to see the customs officer.
As I have mentioned in previous log entries some of these customs and immigration officials expect to be treated with the utmost respect. You must knock before you enter their office, only speak when you are spoken to, you have to be very careful to be polite in a very old fashioned way and everything must be calm. The business with the official is often conducted in the style of a novice monk being addressed by his father superior. I had observed all of these protocols and was part way through my ‘interview’ when unbeknown to me Eileen had finished her phone call and in her wound up state and having misplaced her reading glasses was having difficulty using the iPhone to finish the call. She knew that I would know what to do so came straight into the office, thrust the iPhone into my lap and told me to terminate the call. This I did and she then turned around and left the office again, closing the door a tad too abruptly on her way out. The customs officer looked a little shell shocked, if not downright gobsmacked. He turned to me, jaw open, head down, eyes wide open and in words that I shall remember for a long time slowly and quizzically said ‘She slammed my door!’.
We eventually worked our way through and emerged with papers signed and stamped. We took a short walk around Charleston before returning to the boat for a relaxing day, swimming and chilling.
The next day, Sunday, we dinghied back into town again to take a longer look. Charleston is quite a charming small town. A large number of the buildings are built using quarried stone blocks, quite different from the wooden boarded houses that are so common just about everywhere else in the Caribbean. One historical local boy who made good was Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the USA, and there is a small museum dedicated to him in the town which provided an interesting diversion for an hour or so.
The Alexander Hamilton Museum
We then took a long walk along the idyllic Pinney’s Beach. This stretches for a few miles along the north west coast of Nevis. Apart from one low rise resort and a small number of restaurant/bars this has not been built upon. The beach itself is coral coloured sand that rises at a steep angle from the sea to a height of about 8 feet where it levels off to a few feet of flat sand covered by various ground hugging vines. Behind this is thick, impenetrable, green bush that eventually rises to Mount Nevis.
Views from Pinney’s Beach
We stopped off for lunch at a place called Sunshine Bar where amongst other miscellaneous exhibits they had a large photograph of a very young looking bunch of guys usually known as ‘The Who’, together with Jimmy Hendrix. The owner told me that it had been given to him by Roger Daltry.
The following day, Monday, we thought that we’d ask a local taxi driver to take us on an island tour. We took the dinghy back into town again, only to find that the surge in the harbour had increased considerably overnight. The place where we had left the dinghy before was now untenable. We could have left it tied to the small dinghy dock, but there were warning signs telling us that it was not allowed to ‘lock’ dinghies there. A local told us that this could attract a $250 fine. There was no way I was going to leave my dinghy unattended for several hours with its shiny new outboard engine without first locking it to something secure, so we left and returned to the boat. Landing on the beach was also not a good option. The surf was not too high, but when it combined with the wash from the numerous ferries passing by the waves broke right over the top of the beach and into the bush behind. So on that Monday Nevis and its taxi drivers lost our business.
Some of the old sugar plantation houses on Nevis
Ruins of the last sugar mill to close
Inside the Town Library