Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nevis, A Stone’s Throw Away

Al checked the weather, and thought that we should wait until Friday to pass to Nevis, since the winds on Thursday were expected to be 15-20 knots. I said we could manage the two hour trip in the lee of both of the islands, which are separated by a channel, called the narrows. Another day at the marina without any chance of swimming was not very appealing, and 15-20 knots would not be considered a storm, even with my standards. We did not have to start early, so washed the deck some more, filled our tank to the rim and dealt with a job, the neglect of which had surprised our friend Deniz. During their Christmas visit, Al had confessed that he had not marked the length of our anchor chain, and Deniz asked how Al knew how much chain to let out. After that we had measured and made some markers with tape; not very durable. One of the first things we bought in Marigot, St Martin, was three colours of plastic chain markers, one of which Al had placed on the chain while we were at anchor, kind of marking 60 ft. Even one marker had been a great help for me, during our subsequent efforts at anchoring. I had been nagging him for doing it, and being tied at the dock was a perfect opportunity, almost lost. Last morning was the time to deal with it. Al was reluctant, but complied. It did not take too long to finish sticking a few plastic pieces into the chain links; however by the time we were done, I saw a big cat getting tied to the dock behind us, among a lot of shouting and swearing in French between two older couples. When we were ready to leave, Al asked them to slowly release our lines while he was maneuvering Ruyam II out of the tight spot, crowded in from both sides. I think they were concerned about their own boat, so did not hesitate to help. One of the ladies took the aft line, and released it when asked, however the wind was pushing us onto the dock. The two of the ladies came to the front where I was, and bravely pushed the boat several times, when our ball fenders popped out. Thanks to them we did not damage Ruyam II’s port side.

When we got under underway, it was clear that the wind was strong, and almost on the nose, so decided to motor all the way. We cut across the large bay surrounded by small mounds, which reduce to almost nothing at places, so there was no lee effect on the wind; however the waves were not as high.

I had hopes about the high mountain of Nevis, which is described as a giant sombrero, but we had no respite from the relentless winds, which got even stronger in the shade of the former volcano, when we were trying to tie the mooring lines, exactly two hours after starting the trip.

When we reached Pinney’s Beach, Charlestown in Nevis, we saw many mooring balls to our surprise, since the guide book did not mention them. I prefer mooring, so Al picked one close to the Four Seasons Resort, which was somewhat away from the crowd of sail boats moored closer to town. Of course, when I try to tie the line, the wind never fails to blow gale-force. I tied the port side, and was ready to hook the other, when Al came, and decried that the tie was wrong, and instead of tying the starboard side first, he told me to untie it and hold on to the end, while he still held the other line. You know, wind is quite powerful when it is against you. I was able to release the line right before it got me under the boat; I only hit my left shin to the cross-beam on the bow, and thankfully did not break it. I guess the scar will remind us in the future, not to overestimate our muscle power against nature!

Apart from the mishap, everything here is great. I got reconnected with my long lost friend, the clean sea to swim in. We are facing a mile long of a beach, and lots of things to do on land, according to the guide book. We are to stay here until the week-end to wait for calmer winds.

Nevis looks a bit poorer than St Kitts, since no cruise ships come here. The little town looks like it was stuck in 1940 s, with ancient buildings, small shops, a market for fresh produce, lively and friendly people. We looked really hard but could not see much of any tourists on the streets that we walked and bussed. According to the sailing guide, the classiest places on the island were in Gingerland, the southern slopes of the mountain, where the mansions of the old plantation owners were turned into very high priced restaurants. We did not have a chance to visit them, so I can’t tell how they were. The only place we saw in a distance was the Four Seasons Hotel, which seemed to have a few guests during the week. On Saturday night, we watched the preparations for a wedding, for which a party of about a hundred gathered. The hotel probably made enough profit for the month, for it to survive. That was our entertainment for the night, and in the morning we got ready for the long passage for Guadeloupe, with a night stop at Montserrat.

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