St Kitts & Nevis, Statia and Sint Maarten/St Martin
29 January 2016
St Kitts and Nevis
Kitts and Nevis are an independent federation of islands with previous and still some connection to the UK.
We anchored off Charlestown in Nevis, checked in and wandered about. To be honest there wasn't much to find, but there was a nice Caribbean vibe about the place.
Some wonderful snorkelling on the four seasons hotel breakwaters, some dinghying and some drinking 'Killer Bees' in Sunshines Bar on Pinney's beach and we headed north after a couple days.
We nosed into another anchorage to the north, but no room, so we head for 'Shitten' Bay in St Kitts. More nice snorkelling here and we head for yet another hiding hole for the night. Looked like there was a shack bar on the beach which turned out to be a very expensive, pretentious, neuvo shack. Weird!!!
We arrive in the capital Basseterre to find a cruise ship Disney land with passengers seemingly afraid to leave the pastel flavoured compound. We on the other hand, had Kentucky Fried Chicken!! Yum yum!!
Kitts and Nevis was something of a disappointment even with the most polite school children in the Caribbean. So we head for St Eustatius, Statia to its friends.
Statia ( St Eustatius)
I've been looking forward to Statia for a while. Just because it's small and historic. The first country to recognise the USA and once a huge trading post, something to do with the duty free status. Even in the 1700's, nothing seems to change haha!!
We arrive fairly early after a pleasant sail from our anchorage under the guns of Fort Brimstone in St Kitts. A formidable bastion built in three hill tops to help the British keep their Caribbean jewel.
Customs are easy and pleasant, call back for immigration as there is no one around. I'm liking this place already. So we head to the village to explore and have beers and lunch overlooking the fort in Orangestad the small capital. We can hear the local politicians shouting it out in the meeting hall beside the pub.
The anchorage turns out to be rolly, so we put another anchor out to keep the bow into the swell and suddenly the anchorage is pleasant again, so we stay longer.
The easiest rent a car in the world from Patrick. Two hours and all roads are covered, so we do the shopping and drop the car off with the harbour master. Bizarre!
It turns out the Caribbean LOVES kareoke and we end up at another Friday night event in town. Not great though, so we head home early for an early start for sailing to St Maarten.
I'm just about to start the engine when I notice that the water is much clearer than previously and suggest we test snorkel before leaving. It proves a good decision once again and we all have a wonderful snorkel along the shore front, turtles, barracuda, a sting ray, numerous fish and coral and ruins of the old sea front two. Brilliant. Afterwards we are all wrecked, so head for the village. However, with four pubs before the steps up to town we get distracted and eventually end up in a small hotel where Sophia the bar tender tells us all about the island and its daily life and we have a couple beers with Kurt the air ambulance pilot. So a great Sunday session was had. Bed before 9pm and up early for the next leg to Dutch Sint Maarten.
Sorry to leave Statia behind and realising that we like the small islands. Though it may have lost its original flavour, lots of American oil workers in the huge storage terminal and Dominican immigrants who work in the hospitality industry. There are also quite a few Chinese running shops and bars and restaurants. I guess this is what gives this little place a very cosmopolitan feeling.
Put Statia on your list.
Sint Maarten/Saint Martin
We sail from Statia wondering what the cosmopolitan St Maarten will bring. All the Statian locals warned us that it's dangerous and to watch our stuff. It alerts us, but we remind ourselves that Statia is a place where locksmiths soon go out of business and car doors don't need keys.
We pass beautiful Saba, reluctantly passing by as the weather means a questionable landing from the dinghy and we are running out of time. St. Bart's appears on the horizon, soon followed by St. Maarten ahead. More
yachts appear and more
super yachts dot the horizon. We decide to avoid the cruise ships Disney land of the capital Philipsburg and head for the yachtie Disney land of Simson Baai.
We anchor and check in as usual and head for the nearest Happy Hour. Beers served by Keith from Armagh, it's a small world!!
The Dutch St Maarten turns out to be an American holiday destination and to be honest we spent too much time there. But we got the laundry, chandlery and McDonalds fix satisfied.
BUT, The best bit about Sint Maarten is the runway. You can have beers and lunch immediately under the approach to the main airport and have a swim at the same time, my neck was strained at every plane landing, performing a critique in my head in each approach and secretly wishing I was flying the approach myself!! Maybe some day.
The planes scream overhead and the tourists snap and crackle with their iPhones. But better yet the brave and stupid fence surf when a 747 is powering up to take off. Yikes.
We head to the French side the next day and have a great reach followed by a good tack up the Anguillan Channel to Marigot on the French side.
As expected, with all things French, this proves nicer, cooler and (very surprisingly) more friendly than the Dutch side. Less Riviera, glitz and glamour and more baguette, coffee, bierre and chillaxing.
We don't stay long though, the beaches of Anguilla are calling, so we take fuel and water and run down wind for Anguilla after yet another Karaoke night in Marigot, this time possibly the best, but sadly our passenger Dave didn't partake.