We made it to Nevis! We left Antigua on Saturday, February 24, 2018. It was like having your kids inside for far too many rainy days, that as soon as the sun comes out, even for a little bit, they are running for the door to go out and play. Robert and I felt tied down to Antigua due to boat needs and then rough weather. As soon as the weather broke, even a little, we pulled the anchor and motored out of the harbor. I suppose sailors with tons of nautical miles under their belts would say it was a fine day for a sail. In my limited exposure I say, “I am simply happy not to have gotten seasick; and that we made it safely
The wind was a brisk 18 knots with gusts up to 29 knots, not necessarily bad; and, the following seas pushing us on from behind were great; however, they were 12 to 15 foot waves; the closer we got to Nevis they seemed to grow. That is the tough part for me, not the wind, the waves. I sit at the helm, breathe deeply, focus on any tasks at hand, stay hydrated and as my husband is apt to say, “Suck it up”. And I did. My reward? I saw two very large whales on the passage. In the rush of waves and sea foam I noticed what I thought looked like a whale spout, I said out loud, “hey that looks like…” and did not even finish my thought vocally because I thought, Nah… not here. And for just a brief few seconds, as I happen to have my eyes in the right direction at the right moment, a pair of large whales arced their backs above the water surface in tandem. Now, that made my day.
Once we hit Nevis there was a mooring ball to secure to for a good night’s sleep, new friends to meet, and a fun day of exploration on the Island awaiting. Hmm, the mooring ball should be a fairly easy process. There is a needle-eye like end to a rope that is floating on top of the water strongly secured to a big, white, round, buoy-ball marker that is very strongly secured to the seabed floor. You simply thread two lines through the eye and pull one line to the starboard forward bow cleat and one to the port forward bow cleat. Robert stays on the helm, and Toni lays on her belly with a boat hook in hand to snag the floating rope with the needle-like eye and quickly slides both lines through, pulls extra quickly and runs one line to one cleat and quickly runs the other line to it’s corresponding cleat.
Well, every new idea has to have it’s first attempt and Robert decided on a clever new way to “quickly” attach to the mooring eye/ ball. Let me just say that we had to take another run at the mooring buoy because the hook that he rigged would not open wide enough to clip through the eye loop. Then, I did not pull each rope to their respective cleats but rather ran both lines like a double strand left to right; that is not necessarily bad, still strong, yet it does put more wear on the eye hook and the preferred method is the other. The problem increased as the double lines separated and one went behind the floating big, white, round, buoy-ball and twisted our lines in an unacceptable way. Robert donned his snorkel gear and swam out to the mess and wrestled wet, overlong lines and a bobbing big, white, round, buoy-ball. Now it just sounds silly; at the time, Rob did not think so. What should take about 3 to 5 minutes took us over a half hour. (We tried it again at our next anchorage and Rob’s recreated second design took all of 10 seconds to attach- I love this guy!)
I would love to take you along a blow by blow account of our Nevis two-day visit but I find so much of interest and fun to reflect upon that this would turn into a novel; quickly, let me do this: the dinghy dock was down right awful and dangerous as we climbed out of the dinghy, balance- beam walk across the wooden (missing many planks) lower dock to hoist ourselves up and over the two metal railings onto the concrete dock. Then the customs office was closed on Saturday at noon prior to our visit and we were told it would not reopen until Monday at 8 am and the note on the door said only the captain to the office and you must stay aboard until cleared.
Of course, we left the boat to begin our explorations on foot; we accidentally found Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace, a Catholic church for Mass the next morning and discovered free Wi-Fi outside the Flow –island’s mobile vendor- to video FaceTime the kids. Later that afternoon, we left the boat once again to stroll Pinney Beach and cut through the Four Seasons Resort. Rob found a cute little sand dollar to add to his blossoming seashell souvenir collection. So far he has Antigua and Nevis covered.
Incidentally, everyone greets everyone as they pass one another in Nevis, it is Caribbean loveliness. As we adopted the custom we greeted two Americans by the dock. Mary and Shelby’s dinghy died and we towed them back to their catamaran in the mooring field. In thanks they invited us over for happy hour at 5:30, typically referred to as “sun setters” by cruisers and a new friendship was established; we hope to reconnect in the Virgin Islands and possibly up the U.S. eastern seaboard.
This is part of the cruising lifestyle that Rob and I love, hearing other boater’s stories and touring their boat- SV Jangles. Some of our best ideas and help come from other boaters. Shelby alerted us to the Saba shallows to avoid on our sail north and he reminded us of three additional weather sites to check.
We left the boat, again, on Sunday for Mass where we met some expatriates who were kind enough to give us some fun ideas for Monday’s exploration. Monday was the sort of day that I signed up for. Following our custom’s check-in, which took an hour (Rob convinced the clerk to allow him to do our check out, too, for Tuesday as we were leaving very early) we tracked down a car rental and headed out to explore. We circumnavigated, by car, the entire island. Along the way we stopped at a local food stand for fresh foods: eggplant, bananas, local potato-like something or others. We proceeded to hike a small portion of Mount Peele beginning partially up the island at a well known Inn owned by world class artisans and rewarded our efforts with lunch at the beautiful Golden Rock Inn.
To finish our tour, we swung back to the baths we visited earlier in the day to soak our weary bodies in very hot, 107-degree volcanic water. “Ah.”
While soaking in the soothing bath I met Kathy, a retired nurse who worked in England for most of her career and has been retired on Nevis, the home of her husband. She in turn greeted Ken Evelyn, grocery store owner and Nevis humanitarian. Ken stopped by to vacuum the hot tub. Ken shared with us that he built the new bath area with his own money and has maintained it daily for years. Ken chatted with us for a while; he literally was in the process of closing down his 30 year grocery store business in the next three days to spend more time with his family. Another local arrived and thanked Ken for fixing and maintaining the chiming clock over the library and how he missed hearing it chime lately. Ken explained that until the local government repaired the roof area he did not consider it safe to go up to maintain the clock. This was an interesting snippet of life that keyed us into the local culture and life reality on Nevis.
It was only 5:30 when we dingyed back to the boat and I was ready for a meal and my bed. Unfortunately, so was Robert and we both went to bed with the two front hatches open. It is truly amazing how much rain water an open window can attract; enough apparently to seep its way along downhill interior secret passages to your newly install, long awaited inverter. Inverters do not like water. The good news here is that after jumping out of bed and spending lots of time stuffing paper towels along cervices and saying a lot of prayers two days later after a thorough dry out, Rob was able to get the inverter rebooted. On a boat it is ALWAYS something. We just hate it when it is something self-imposed; especially when it interrupts our much needed rest on the night before an overnight passage on our way to St. Thomas, USVI. That’s my tease for the upcoming blog… take care. Toni