Friday, July 3, 2015


We were thrilled to get out of the rolly anchorage in Statia and head for St. Kitts.  We decided to just motor, since we just wanted to get there as soon as possible so we could finally rest.  We hadn't slept well in over a week. 

Good-bye Statia!

Motoring to St. Kitts

We had 5-6 foot seas, which is kind of big when you are heading into the wind and don't have a dodger (windshield), but doable.  We made it to Basseterre in only 4 hours.  The first 2 hours were in open ocean, and the second 2 hours were much more enjoyable, along St. Kitts' gorgeous coastline. 

Hello, St. Kitts!

Scenic St. Kitts, with Brimstone Fortress on the hill

We anchored next to a ferry outside of Port Zante in Basseterre, and dinghied in to clear customs.  The dinghy dock is in a very narrow and sketchy channel between the dock and the gigantic rocks that form a breakwater.  Luckily, thanks to our cruising guide book, we knew to go very slow and grab onto the docked powerboats and walk our way along them to avoid tearing a hole in the bottom of our dinghy or destroying our prop.  Some rocks were poking out of the water, and some were hiding just a few inches below the surface.  One of the boats we pulled ourselves along was named, "Obama!"  I wonder if our President knows he has a little fishing skiff named after him in St. Kitts?

Customs was located upstairs in the Port Zante marina building, and a young customs officer who was being trained by his superior took care of us.  For the first time in our travels so far there was a question on the paperwork about number of pets on board.  I just played the fool and skipped that section, hoping the officer wouldn't notice.  He didn't.  Phew!  I'd rather not lie and say that we didn't have a pet on board, but at the same time I didn't want to cause any problems for ourselves and/or Momo.  I had read about some countries having the policy of "humanely euthanizing" your pet if it didn't pass the medical examination or have its paperwork in order.  What's humane about euthanizing a perfectly healthy and loved member of the family?  Anyway, the process ended up being friendly and problem free.  They didn't seem to be real hard asses there...the female officer was sleeping at her desk.  It only cost us $30 EC ($12 US).

Our next stop was Immigration and the Port Office, located in the cruise ship terminal.  There was a cruise ship in, and all of the passengers had to show their ID's to get past the gate, but we were able to just walk in.  It makes me wonder if we could sneak aboard the ship and enjoy their water slide and a nice free meal.  Though I'm sure they have another layer of security before they actually step onto the ship itself.  

When we entered the immigration office, the man who worked there said that the lady officer had just stepped out to use the restroom, then he continued chatting with his friend or family member on his cell phone.  There was a gospel radio station playing in the background, and calendars from previous years decorating the walls.  The immigration officer was very friendly and personable.  Across the hallway was the port office, where we had to pay our $30 EC ($12 US) port fees. 

We went across the street to Ram's Supermarket to stock up on a few items we were running out of.  There were more employees in the store than customers, and one employee had her boyfriend hanging out behind her and harassing her as she stocked shelves, along with 2 other employees in the same aisle.  The store was nice, organized, and friendly, though.  You can pay in US dollars here, but they will give you change in EC's (Eastern Caribbean Dollars, $1 US = $2.7 EC)

We dinghied back to our boat and then weighed anchor and headed further south to a calmer anchorage called White House Bay.  St. Kitts is really an up and coming island.  There is a ton of construction south of Basseterre, all along the southwest peninsula.  A huge mega yacht marina called "Christophe Harbour" is being constructed, along with numerous villas and entire neighborhoods that belong to the marina.  There are also many elaborate resorts being constructed.  However, for the mean time it is a dusty construction site with a small real estate office selling dock slips and villas.

We were pleased at how calm the water was at White House Bay, though the wind was howling like crazy.  It channeled through the valley and made the wind significantly stronger than it was anywhere else.  But we were thrilled to be able to get a good night's sleep.  FINALLY!!!  And as an added bonus, Christophe Harbor was generous enough to offer free wifi that we managed to pick up from the boat so we could stay in touch with the world and most importantly, follow the WEATHER!

The next couple of days we caught up on sleep and relaxed.  Skeeter baked delicious cinnamon rolls from scratch.  They turned out great!  It was nice to actually be able to do anything in the galley without feeling like you were risking your well being to do so. 

Skeeter's homemade cinnamon rolls

We were very happy for some rain that came through, because the boat needed a good rinse.  Salt water is very corrosive, and after cruising through rough seas the boat gets covered in it (as do we).  Of course we are very limited on our fresh water supply, so we can't just grab a hose and rinse things off.

After a couple of days of much needed rest, we were ready to adventure!  We found out that absolutely no public transportation runs through the southwest peninsula so we had limited choices: 1. Call a cab and pay $24 each way to get into town, 2. Walk almost 8 miles each way up and down mountains, 3. Hitchhike, 4. Don't go to town.  We opted to try #3 - Hitchhiking.  We dinghied almost a mile into Christophe Harbour's dinghy dock, walked a half mile across the construction grounds, and put our thumbs out next to the main road.  

We were surprised to see a rental car pull over for us.  It was a young couple from London, visiting for a family wedding.  The woman's family was from St. Kitt's, but this was her first visit to the island.  They were super friendly.  They were staying at the Marriott Resort, which was about half way to our destination (though we thought we were nearly there).  They let us out at their intersection, and we decided to continue on foot.  We ended up walking the rest of the way, because we kept thinking Basseterre would be just around the corner.  That was a hot, dusty 4 miles.  But we were incredibly grateful that it wasn't 8 miles! 

As we got closer to Basseterre, the open dusty countryside turned into a more urban setting.  We walked through a local neighborhood that obviously didn't see many foreigners.  No one gave us a hard time at all.  In fact, an elderly woman who just hobbled across the street with her cane went to the trouble to holler at us to tell us which side of the street we should walk on so we didn't hit the sidewalk dead ending into a construction pit.

When we made it to Basseterre we hunted down Mrs. Moore, the Johnny Cake lady.  I had read about her on Trip Advisor, and really wanted to try one of her Johnny Cakes for lunch.  With some luck and asking around, we finally found her.  She has a stand just outside of the cruise ship port area where she has Johnny Cakes and pots filled with her local food cook up.  Skeeter and I both ordered Johnny cakes with chicken, and locally made passion fruit juice.  It was delicious, local, and cheap.  

Fresh made passion fruit juice & a Johnny cake with chicken

Mrs. Moore is a great lady.  She said she has had her stand for something like 24 years.  She also helps to keep some of the homeless and less fortunate people fed.  When I went to pay she said $24 and I began to reach for $24 US thinking that was a fair price for such a delicious meal.  Then she said, "Heavens no!  EC, darling!  I couldn't sleep at night if I charged you $24 US!"  Wow.  So that delicious lunch, including our drinks, was only $8 US.  I definitely couldn't eat Johnny Cakes every day (they are pretty greasy), but boy was that a nice local experience and enjoyable after walking so many miles in the scorching sun.

Mrs. Moore, the Johnny Cake lady

Since we have been living in the Caribbean for a few years now and I'm used to be out in the sun, I don't always put on sunscreen (yes, shame on me).  Usually my skin can handle it.  But that day I was wearing a tank top and my skin was cooking, and we didn't have and sunscreen with us.  We don't usually buy anything other than food (rarely outside of a grocery store or food cart) and almost never do we buy souvenirs.  We are on a very tight budget and want our adventure to last.  But I decided to suck it up and walk into the tourist shops to buy something to cover me up.  I ended up settling for a neon pink St. Kitts t-shirt and hat for $20.  St. Kitts is my favorite island, after all, so if I was going to have a cheesy souvenir t-shirt it might as well be from St. Kitts.

We walked to Independence Park and sat down on a bench, taking another rest from all that walking.  It was fun watching the people go by, the birds hop around, and looking at the beautiful orange flamboyant tree and another enormous tree.  There was a man carrying an ironing board, a school girl bouncing a ball, a boy dancing by himself in front of the massive tree, and a group of girls singing and dancing on a bench.  I decided to stretch out on the bench for just a minute, and before I knew it I was sound asleep.  When I awoke I managed to conjure up enough energy to continue on.   

A beautiful Catholic school

Independence Park in Basseterre

School boy dancing by big tree

On the way back we walked for the first mile or two, then put out our thumbs.  A young local woman with a head scarf and numerous tattoos on her hands and arms pulled over for us.  She was very quiet, but very kind.  She ended up taking us farther than she had intended to go, out of sheer generosity. 

We waited by the roadside again, hoping we could catch a ride before night fall.  We still had another 4 miles to go, and those 4 miles were the most mountainous and dangerous to walk.  A young surfer looking girl pulled over for us.  She had 2 dogs in the back seat, and a whole mess of stuff in the front passenger seat.  Skeeter got in back with the two big slobbering dogs, and I climbed into the front with her mess of stuff all over the seat and floor.  She tried to gather it all up so I had room to sit.  She was very talkative and cheerful, and said she was in her last semester at the Veterinary Medicine School.  We didn't realize it until we were moving, but the girl was drunk as a skunk.  She had not one but two "roadies," tall cups filled with ice and mixed drinks.  Then I noticed a bottle of vodka at my feet.  Who knows how many drinks she had already consumed.  She was wildly swerving all over the road.  Then she was trying to pick out music on her I-pod and Skeeter and I were both like, "what's on now is fine!"  She was an interesting character.  We learned all about her.  Her Dad is an American and her Mom is English, but she grew up in Dubai and Venezuela.  She has relatives in Montana.  Her boyfriend works for some construction company on the island.  Bla, bla, bla.  Just drive straight, please!!!  Then she started digging in her bag and swerving even more.  Skeeter and I were both feeling like these 4 miles were going on forever.  We just wanted to get out of her jeep alive and not end up driving off a cliff.  She pulled out a glass pipe and asked us if we wanted to smoke pot with her.  Luckily, when we turned down her offer, she put it back in her bag and didn't light up.  When she got to the entrance to the marina we jumped out as quickly as we could.  She offered to take us all the way in (it was still another half a mile or so to the docks), but we said "No, thank you."  When she drove away Skeeter and I looked at each other and both said, "Holy shit" at the same time.  We were laughing out of nervousness, but truly glad to have survived that crazy girl's reckless driving.    

The next day we decided not to bother going back into town.  We just hung out in White House Bay, where we were anchored.  We went for a snorkel by some rocks that were protruding out of the water and found a ship wreck.  The reef had a lot of algae growth, but we did still find lots of cool creatures including some beautiful tunicates, a balloon fish, and a stingray amongst others.  We untangled some fishing line that was entangled in the reef to prevent damage to the corals and creatures, and in the process ended up seeing some cool little purple urchins and a ruby brittle star that had been tangled up in the line.         

On Tuesday we decided to go back into town so we could see Brimstone Fortress, one of St. Kitts most famous historical sites.  However, we didn't want to brave the many miles of walking in the scorching sun and having to take our chances hitchhiking again.  We came up with another option.  We took Salt Whistle into Basseterre and anchored next to the ferry and dinghied into Port Zante.  

We jumped on the local bus at the bus terminal, just a couple of blocks north of the cruise ship terminal.  A taxi driver tried to get us to take his cab, but we much prefer public transportation.  He seemed surprised that we wanted to take the bus.  I guess most tourists like the comfort of their own private vehicle, but not us.  Buses are a way to observe and interact with the locals, learn their customs, and not to mention save a lot of money.  The ride only cost us $7 EC ($2.50 US) for the two of us, where a taxi would have cost us $50 US.  It's a real no-brainer.  The bus driver did drive extremely fast and wild, but we just held on and enjoyed the ride.  The driver, as well as everyone else on board, were all very pleasant and friendly.

After saying, "Driver, stop here, please," we got off the bus and began our pleasant half a mile hike up the mountain to the entrance of the Brimstone Fortress.  The road was surrounded by trees, including my favorite, the orange flamboyant tree.  

At the bottom of Brimstone Fortress

A beautiful flamboyant tree

And another wonderful surprise, we got to see lots of green vervet monkeys!  Tourists who went by taxi would have surely missed them hiding in the trees.  We were quiet so we wouldn't scare them away, and we got to see them eating fruit, playing, and swinging from branch to branch.  

A green vervet monkey!

When we got to the entrance we paid our $10 US per person entry fee, which goes toward maintaining the impressive historical site.  

The welcome booth to the national park

We took in the spectacular views and took lots of pictures.  


St. Eustatius in the distance

Next, we stopped by the local food shack for a lunch of some barbeque chicken, rice and peas, and locally made mauby juice.  

Mauby juice, a local juice made from tree bark

While we were enjoying our lunch we made a friend.  An 8 year old boy named Cassius, who's father worked there.  He was keeping himself well entertained with his homemade top which he created himself out of a string, two plastic bottle caps, and a stem valve cap from a tire.  

Cassius, teaching us how to spin his top

He ended up letting us spin his top, and then decided to walk around the entire Fortress with us for two solid hours.  First, he took us to see the short informational video about Brimstone Fortress which he set up for us.  During the video he quizzed us.  After the video we walked around outside and he made us spin the top at various places, pick him up so he could see things better, race to the top of a hill, and hold his legs so he could walk on his hands.

Cassius made each of us spin the top during the tour

This little guy sure did have a lot of energy!

We found some tiny kittens blocked in one of the fortress rooms with a piece of wood and we played with them for a little while.  Hope they don't give me ring worm like the kittens in the Dominican Republic or the kittens in Thailand!

Kittens, blocked into on of the exhibits

After the tour we walked back down, hailed a bus, walked back to Port Zante, and dinghied back to Salt Whistle.  Poor Momo was feeling sea sick because the bay in Basseterre was a rough one. 
Poor sea sick Momo

I think he was journaling about his rough day

We weighed anchor and set sail back to White House Bay.

Sailing back to White House Bay
We ended up moving to the next bay south (Ballast Bay) the following day because conditions were worsening and Ballast Bay seemed slightly calmer.  We went for a snorkel, and found the reef to be quite a bit healthier than in White House Bay.  We saw an octopus, a juvenile trunk fish the size of a pea, a lettuce sea slug, and over 20 small lobster.  Shame they weren't bigger...they could have been dinner!  There was a conch graveyard, with hundreds and hundreds of empty conch shells.  Must have been where the fishermen cleaned them and dumped the shells.  We also found an abandoned fish trap with a blue tang trapped in it.  It was down at about 25 feet, so we free dived down and tried to help the poor guy escape.  It was terrible to watch him panic and slam himself into the sides of the cage opening more and more wounds.  And it's not like anyone was going to eat him.  We dived down about twenty times each, trying to guide him to the exit and even tried flipping the cage over different way to help him out.  I was so sad that we couldn't help the poor fellow.  I have a particularly soft spot for blue tang. 

We have a juvenile blue tang that has traveled with us for almost 100 miles so far.  Every time we see him, he's swimming around near our propeller.  I don't really understand how he can stay with us when we're motoring or sailing long distances, and how he hasn't gotten sucked into the propeller, but I love the little guy.  He's still yellow (they don't turn blue until they're older), but over the weeks we have watched him grow up and start to develop some blue outlines around his body.  I wonder how many more miles he will stay with us!

The next morning I completed a little sewing project, a splash guard for the aft companionway.  We didn't want to have a wet bed after a long passage again!  

Splash guard I made to prevent water from entering the cabin

In the afternoon we decided to explore the beaches on the southwest peninsula.  We ended up walking over six miles.  The first beach we checked out had an amazing amount of Saragassum seaweed piled up.  There were workers on back hoes driving up and down the beach collecting the seaweed and piling it into mountains.  I was just reading about the Caribbean Saragassum seaweed epidemic the previous day, and learned that not only it is stinky, but it is also toxic when it begins decomposing and releasing hydrogen sulfide gases.  There were two crazy tourists, sunbathing between piles of it on the beach.  We couldn't believe it!

Terrible smell of mountains of decaying Saragassum seaweed

A backhoe hard at work gathering up the masses of seaweed

We continued on to Cockleshell beach, the one we had read most about.  It was definitely a touristy beach, with lots of cruise shippers, but still very beautiful and fun. 

Cockleshell Beach

The most famous bar there, Reggae Bar, has all kinds of water sports, a swim platform, sand volleyball, and monkeys.  Caged monkeys.  With a sign that says they were orphans and they were taken in by Reggae bar because they couldn't survive in the wild on their own.  Total bullshit.  They would have been much better off in the wild instead of in small cages with people poking and prodding at them, and throwing trash and junk food in their cages.  One of the monkeys had an injured tail.  It was bald at the tip and bleeding.  As the sun started to fall in the sky, when monkeys are very active in the wild, two of the monkeys started pacing back and forth in their cages and bobbing up and down.  They were losing their minds.  How I would have loved to sneak in at night and free these poor guys.    

I went for a swim in the crystal clear waters and Skeeter relaxed on the beach.  There was even a public outdoor shower in front of Reggae Bar, guarded by a goat.  The goat was friendly and didn't protest when I came to rinse off.  You can't imagine what a luxury a free shower is to a person who has been living on a boat with a limited water supply.  

On the walk back a woman stopped to offer us a ride.  We weren't even trying to hitchhike at that point.  She said she had seen us at Cockleshell beach, and wow was that a long walk!  We were nearly back to the marina so we thanked her and politely declined her offer.  The people of St. Kitts are so incredible kind.  Definitely the nicest people have met so far, overall.  That's why St. Kitts is my favorite island so far!

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