25 March 2013 | Whitehorse Bay, St Kitts, 17’15.03N 62’39.49W – Orangjestad, Statia, 17’28.85N 62’59.30W via Basseterre, St Kitts
Take a wonder around London town and you'll happen on some pretty popular landmarks. There is the majestic dome of St Pauls to take in and the historic battlements of the Tower of London. You'd be surprised to hear that on St Kitts we have managed to find one of London's landmarks in the form of Piccadilly Circus, but instead of gordy neon to light it up, we have found, scaled and explored a volcano that would have put it in a magnificent glow when it erupted many moons ago.
Before being all grown up by going to towns and climbing volcano's we found time to play like proper little children. As we pulled up in a little bay at the south end of St Kitts where there was nothing but shimmering turquoise water, old friends and the fastest free internet that we have come across in our travels. Russ from Mad Fish sprinted over to Ruffian whilst dragging his kids, Ethan & Oli, behind his rib on a doughnut. Quick as a flash Iain had displaced the kids and was being dragged around the bay at breakneck speed. This activity seemed to be a great way to mix up the position of all your vital organs whilst at the same time giving your upper body a great workout. Quite how Ethan & Oli manage to do this for hours at a time is a mystery to both their parents and all those on Ruffian.
With snorkelling and water based fun ticked off the list it was time to hit the shore. Just around the corner from where we had anchored, according to our vintage 1994 pilot book, was a massive salt lake and miles of scrubland. We were therefore somewhat surprised to find pristine roads, palm trees that were being automatically watered and all the infrastructure required to support 1000's of new houses. It became apparent that we would be some of the last people to set sight on the salty lagoon before it is 'developed' into a massive new marina and exclusive housing complex. Walking around what had been developed was like walking around Disneyland. Everything was fake and pristine, everything was sanitised and a massive juxtaposition to the scubland that remained. We left the place feeling that leaving the land as is would have been the best policy, but we did enjoy their free fast internet.
One of problems of all this island hopping is that we are forever having to seek out customs and immigration to get Ruffian's papers checked and also to get our passports filled with stamps upon stamps. We wanted to leave St Kitts and get off the beaten track by going to Statia, so we braved the dodgy anchorage and the white pasty wobbly cruise chip tourists to do our part of the cruising paper chase at the capital, Basseterre. Basseterre turned out to be a real gem once you were away from the tourist tat and into the real city. It positively throbbed with life as the pounding bass pumped out of shops and flowed into the local eateries and the markets that provided the sustenance to the people were awash with humanity. What made this so extraordinary was the backdrop that it was all conducted around. The signs of British colonisation were everywhere with the main square having been modelled on Piccadilly Circus and red phone boxes adorning every corner. If we'd had a policeman directing traffic with white gloves we could have been back in the pre war Caribbean.
As we'd completed all the formalities at St Kitts we could move onto the volcanic island of Statia. As you approach all you can see is the volcano, as you anchor, all you can see is the volcano and everywhere you go on the island you are either walking up or down the said volcano. The volcano on Statia is pretty big and imposing and therefore needed to be scaled.
Along with Mad Fish we set off just after dawn to scale the primary feature of the island. Up and up we went, along with a stray dog who looked like he'd done it many times before and after a couple of hours we found ourselves looking into the crater and the land that time forgot. With the outside scaled we felt it was only appropriate to descend the crater. This is where our walk changed, depending upon your perspective, to either canyoning without the safety water or Go-Ape without the harnesses, this was now high risk walking. Oli & Ethan coped with the rocks so well that Iain described them as monkeys and Fiona took it a step further by excluding them when she started talking about humans. Either way well done Oli & Ethan
Our plan had been to scale the volcano and then check out ready for the sail to St Barts in time for the superyacht regatta. To check out we needed some dollars and we searched high and low in town for a way to secure funds. On our search we found out that because the oil workers get paid on a Friday and drink it all over the weekend, Statia is dry with regards to cash come Sunday. We turned up at customs cash negative, explained our situation to the officials and hoped they wouldn't throw the book at us. They didn't throw the book at us, but did laugh us out of their office, with stamped boat papers as this is completely normal in Statia. We loved this leaving gift from Statia and wonder if the cash rich opulent haven of St Barts will prove to be as relaxed when we arrive there.
Iain & Russ from Mad Fish playing like children.
The poor doughnut took some punishment with Donut riding it.
The last view of the great salt lakes of St Kitts before they are 'developed' into a massive marina complex.
Iain gets all arty with a rare pristine brown conch shell.
The aptly named Sandy Bay. Yep it's sandy.
St Kitts has its very own Piccadilly Circus, complete with red phone boxes.
The local eateries certainly add colour to the cooking.
Lunch out Ruffian style.
Iain the superhero saves Irene's sun glasses from the deep but nearly loses his own in the process.
Clouds threaten to ruin the sunset, but in the end they just added to the drama.
Mad Fish trying to catch up en route to Statia. Good job the massive tuna they caught slowed them down and made them douse the kite.
Woohoo. Another volcano to climb and explore.
Ruffian & Mad Fish under the guard of the castle at Oranjestad.
Time to explore the volcano. So which way to go?
For every up there is a down. As we're up at the rim it's time to go down into the crater.
There used to be a tree in here.
Up we go again.
Another day, another country, another flag.
Yes Sir. Sorry Sir. We get boarded by the most friendly of coastguards.