20 April 2012
So a 45 nautical mile trip to Nevis from Deep Bay Antigua. Almost due west but the seas where rough from the north, east and south, typical confused seas. Just uncomfortable but not dangerous. With the winds from the east we sailed a good portion but the winds just dropped in the afternoon and the motor was the best alternative since we were just rolling around under sail with great slapping of the headsail.
The south coast of Nevis was best charted in the late 1800’s during Nelson’s time. Little has been done since so it is advisable to stay well offshore. We noted that depth were still correct but location was the issue.
Rounding the southern coast we finally got a break in the large waves and headed up to Charlestown to complete the entry procedure. Nevis has installed hundreds of mooring buoys with nice and easy floating pendants. An easy dinghy ride into town to perform entry requirements and back to the boat. The west coast is not protected from any swells from the south to the north so the moorings can be uncomfortable. During our stay they were okay, not great but okay.
The capital of Nevis is Charlestown. Very well maintained town and extremely friendly and helpful people. Everyone wants to assure you are going to the right place and give free directions without asking. No pushy boat boys, just people that want to help. Immigration, Customs, and port authority are also pleasant.
So Nevis is this small island that was populated by the early Caribes then “found” by Columbus. Ensuing years meant sugar cane and slaves were the norm. There was also a large Jewish population that came here to escape persecution elsewhere.
What else makes this island historically interesting. Well two opposing people for sure. They probably never met and are a few years apart. In the capital of Charlestown Alexander Hamilton was born to an unmarried couple. Hamilton was one of the founding fathers of the United States. Born in Nevis then moved to St Thomas and New York for education. Hamilton learned economics and always remembered the abuses of slavery and assisted in programs to eradicate it. Of course Hamilton was a very strong personality, worked with Washington and others but confronted many others. He wanted the USA to be based more on growth and manufacturing than Jefferson who favored an agrarian culture. State rights versus Federal powers were significant to him and he was instrumental in consolidating the States debts into the Federal government and then paying them off post the war. Probably key to the survival to the early USA. So Hamilton is the face on the USA 10 dollar bill.
Of course he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr who he disliked. Not the first time he had a duel but this time he lost at age 47 in Weehawken New Jersey. The following head of the treasury, Gallatin (a Swiss banker!) did not like Hamilton but had to admit the system he created was very sound.
Also on Nevis was Horatio Nelson, better known as Admiral Nelson in later life. This was one of his earlier stations and he became well hated for enforcement of rule that prohibited trading with the colonies in the US. He also met his future wife here and they were married. She was well educated and previously married until her husband died. She took control of the household and her perseverance in managing it drew Nelson’s admiration. I think Nelson had both arms and eyes while he was here!
Nevis also have a large Four Seasons hotel resort that was badly damaged in a hurricane. It is not open again under different ownership. Tropical villas, golf course and nice beach. But lessons learned from the old style heavily built houses show that you can build hurricane proof places as shown below.
This is the view of Nevis from the boat. Rare time to get a picture without the usual cloud cover at the top. Most of the islands strong hardwood trees were cut down 200 years ago for the British ship building. With the clear cut land sugar became the major source of income with the associated slave labor. When Hamilton was born the sugar trade was decreasing but the large plantations still existed. The moorings are maintained by the government and are in good condition. A bit further north is probably better for comfort. We met some sailors in St Lucia that spent 6 weeks on one of these moorings becaused they just liked the nice quiet town and friendly people. They should be back there now for another extended stay. However not a place to be in a Hurricane!
Some of the locals in residence. Pelicans are common here and these guys (gals) decided this is their boat. I have no idea what the Pershing is but I doubt it is the General from WWI. The Caribbeans have great names for their boats, nothing like those names from the States.
Great looking building in classical old Caribbean style. I do not know how old it is but well over a century for sure. Nicely maintained. Immigration was to the right and upstairs. In their office they had some of the nicest office furniture I have seen in a while. I never matched what they had.
This is the museum for Nevis and another small building is for Hamilton. Supposedly on the second floor of this building Hamilton was born (Bastard since parents were not married). Very nice docent inside and simple but interesting information about Nevis. I never knew that the black plague came to the islands and killed 120,000. I just thought it stayed in Europe. Those fleas on rats can get around. I think if you want to build a Hurricane proof building this is a good model since it is over 200 years old.
Some condos along the waterfront. Classic Caribbean style again.