St. Christopher   5 comments

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Sandy Point at dawn with the volcano to the right.

That’s the formal name for the island of St. Kitts. Don’t as me how Christopher was shortened to Kitts. I’ve forgotten most of my linguistics.

Lee and I got a little antsy in St. Martin after a few days. We spent quite a bit of time in what became our favorite cafe for internet: La Vie en Rose. The waiter/bartender there was really nice and the air conditioning was heavenly.
One day, we took a bus to Phllipsburg, the capitol of Dutch St. Maartin. What a clash to Marigot! Cruise ships come into Philipsburg so the town’s waterfront is completely made up of seedy jewelry stores, souvenir shops, bars, and general tourist crap. There was a huge cruise ship in port when we were there so the place was crawling with people (some had even overflowed into Marigot). As soon as we stepped onto the beach someone tried to sell us lounge chairs, beer, and jet ski rides. I ran the other way.

We did manage to procure ice cream cones in Philipsburg but other than that it was a pretty depressing experience. I know tourism supports the economies of many Caribbean islands but it all seems so fake. I hate watching people throw their money away on cheap souvenirs that are the same in every port. The idea of zooming around mindlessly on a jet ski makes me want to vomit (preferably on all the people who own or operate jet skis). The complete lack of anything that really represents the people and culture of the place in question must not bother cruise ship travelers. I guess I inherited my parents’ distaste for throngs of tourists.

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Me at Fort Louis with Marigot in the background.

Back in Marigot where things were much quieter, Lee and I walked up the hill to Fort Louis. From there we had a view of Pirat between her two gorgeous sailboat neighbors. I enjoyed the wacky English translations on the French signage.

After spending our last few Euro’s on mangoes and stumpy little bananas (slightly different flavor but good) we left Marigot on Friday evening. I think I prefer sailing at night now, since it’s so much cooler. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much wind and we motored most of the way to St. Kitts. It was a beautiful night, though. Phosphorescent sea life shot through the water, getting out of Pirat’s way, and the lights from nearby islands gave us something to stare at on the horizon. There was Saba, which looked like a strange boat at first, the St. Eustatias, then St. Kitts out ahead of us. When I came up for my second shift I saw a huge, dark cone surrounded by twinkling lights around it’s base. Lee and I had finally reached our destination!

We anchored in Pump Bay off of Sandy Point Town, the nearest settlement to St. Kitts Marine Works, where we plan to keep Pirat. I immediately decided that this was one of the most beautiful inhabited spots we’d ever been to.

There is a dark-sanded beach with palm trees on the bank above. The mountain, actually a volcano, rises up steeply behind the town. To the right, just inland from the town, is a steep, domed peak with an 18th century stone fortress on top of it. Brimstone Hill Fortress is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will definitely visit!

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The Brimstone hill fortress.

Before arriving in St. Kitts, Lee and I heard a read a few things about this half of the St. Kitts and Nevis island nation. One of our cruising guide insists that St. Kitts has no good anchorages. Okay, that’s fair. We showed up expecting exposed anchorages with lots of swell and that’s what we got. It doesn’t bother us too much. As to the Kittitians themselves, two separate people have told us that they are not particularly nice. One old cruiser in Salinas as well as the waiter in Marigot made that claim.

As soon as Lee and I landed our dinghy in Sandy Point and walked into the bar at the end of the beach I had the feeling that someone had told the Kittitians we were expecting hostility so they decided to give us what we were not prepared for: a kind welcome. One man enthusiastically ushered us onto the bar’s patio, making introductions and insisting that we make ourselves comfortable. People offered us drinks and ice. They asked about our journey and where we were from. We sat at the bar while a few locals played dominoes and others sipped rum or locally brewed Carib beer. One man talked to us for quite a long time about St. Kitts and it’s people. He may have been a bit intoxicated but he was certainly friendly and genuine.

I think that’s what I like most about the Kittitians and their island: genuineness is abundant. People are either wholeheartedly welcoming or they want nothing to do with us. They’re not trying to sell us anything. I feel like I’m watching people live in a place that doesn’t know or care that I’m here. This may not be the most prosperous or glitzy Caribbean island. Sometimes poverty, dirt, and strangeness make us Westerners uncomfortable. I think it’s good to move out of our comfort zone, though. It’s good to ride the bus and shop in local markets.

Alright, enough of that. Back to the boat.
St. Kitts Marine Works took Pirat out of the water yesterday. They have a huge travelift big enough for mega catamarans. Pirat swung around like a toy boat in the lift while Lee and I sat on deck. It was quite a view. Once we crossed the road to the yard, a backhoe dug a hole for Pirat’s keel and rudder. Then the yard workers positioned tires to cushion the hull and the lift operator lower Pirat into the ground! She’s sitting in a kind of ditch/tire nest. This way the boat is as low to the ground and stable as possible in case of hurricanes. We are also having the mast taken out and the boat strapped down to very solid anchors in the ground. I don’t think Pirat is going anywhere!

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Pirat crosses the road!

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A nice big hole for our keel.

The boatyard is an interesting place. There aren’t many boats here now but the yard manager said they fill up when storms come though. The place is strewn with debris, which they say will be cleaned up shorty (in time for hurricane season, we hope). There is a bathroom/shower shack behind a shipping container in the corner of the yard. The whole place is infested with more mosquitos than I’ve seen for a long time. Last night they joined us in the boat when it started raining outside. A sweltering, closed-up boat buzzing with mosquitos is not my idea of a pleasant place to spend the night. Lee and I survived the night, partly thanks to Lee’s skills with the bug zapper (an electrified fly swatter). One particularly loud fly he swatted didn’t die after the first hit but changed the tone of it’s buzz.

This morning it was still raining. No run for us. We hopped on a bus to Basseterre instead. In St. Kitts’ capital city we rented a car (actually a mini-van, which was all they had) and then drove off in search of a hotel I’d seen online that seemed relatively inexpensive. We found Bird Rock Beach Resort easily and booked a room for the rest of the week.

We spent the rest of the day working on the boat. I packed and Lee babied the engine. I hauled him up the mast to retrieve the radar. We both had scores of new mosquito bites by the end of the day. It was all worth it for the satisfaction of our first showers since Puerto Rico. Our hotel room is nothing fancy but it’s a welcome sanctuary from the bugs and the heat.

On the calendar for tomorrow: a morning run, more boat work, maybe some laundry, maybe the crane will come to take out the mast.

Posted June 5, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

5 responses to St. Christopher

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  1. Wow, it looks like a freshly-dug hole! When you said “ditch” I hadn’t expected an actual dirt hole until I saw the picture. I always pictured boat storage as a big indoor warehouse, but this is certainly an interesting strategy.

    How long in the hotel, now?

    • Yep, that’s a fresh hole. They dug it right there while we waited.

      We’ll be in the hotel another couple of nights. We fly out on Saturday.

  2. Hi Rachel, I found your blog when searching for info on hauling out in St. Kitts. After nearly 6 years of living aboard full time, we are planning to get off Liberty for a few months and leave her on the hard. We have planned to haul out in St. Martin, but have heard about St. Kitts Marine. How was your experience? Would you recommend it? THanks.

    • David – Yes, we would recommend St. Kitts Marine Works! It may seem a little odd to leave your boat in a hole in the ground out in the middle of nowhere on an island but we had a good experience. I forget the name of the guy we dealt with but I think he was Scottish. He was very nice and helpful. Our boat was safe there. The only problem we had was trying to get our mast taken out when we first had the boat taken out there. The guy with the crane was in Puerto Rico and didn’t come back in time to do the mast while we were there. Turned out things were fine with the mast in. St. Kitts is also just a cool island to visit! It’s more off the beaten track.
      Safe travels!

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