Monday, May 20, 2013

Bye-Bye St. Martin, Hello Nevis!

Wednesday, May 1 - Sunday, May 5, 2013

We've done it! We've finally left St. Martin, which has been our longest-running anchorage second only to Luperon. As much as we loved St. Martin, we've been excited to get back into blue water (St. Martin's Simpson Bay Lagoon is perfectly protected from waves, but the water is a not-so-lovely greenish-brown) and explore some new islands in our own boat. We left through the 9am Dutch bridge in Sint Maarten on Stacy's birthday, and enjoyed a beautiful sail to St. Eustatius, a.k.a. Statia. Statia is supposed to be a gorgeous Dutch island, but we've also been warned that the anchorage is miserably rolly. Just imagine trying to sleep while your bed does 30-degree rolls from the left to the right. Oh, yes, and don't forget the sound of the mooring ball slamming into your boat at 2 o'clock in the morning as the wind dies. And here you thought sailing was all about what you see on glossy magazine covers!

Anyway, we were wide awake and rolling when the sun came up Thursday morning, so we dropped our mooring lines and motored the 35 miles from Statia to Nevis. With only 5 knots of wind on the nose, the waves were almost non-existent. Trust us - when you can do dishes, clean the galley, and take a shower on a crossing without getting queasy while down below, it's a good day! We arrived in Nevis around lunch time, and wandered into Charlestown to clear customs and immigration. After one of our most efficient clearings-in (Luperon, take note of these guys!), we walked around town to get our bearings. Happy hour found us at one of the thatched-roof beach bars, run by Patrick and frequented mostly by locals. (FYI: it's the first tiki hut south of the Four Seasons, outside of Lime Beach Bar.)
We wandered over to Sunshine's Bar, Nevis's version of Jost Van Dyke's Foxy's. Sunshine himself wasn't there, but we enjoyed one of his infamous "killer bees" (think "killer rum punch"). Sunshine's was actually the big draw for our going to Nevis, as Stacy had been there on a Windjammer cruise 16 years before. Just like Foxy's in the BVIs, Sunshine's has grown over the years thanks to its reputation among boaters and tourists. It's now the largest bar/restaurant at Pinney's beach, and you should really go just to "say you were there". Admittedly, there isn't much left of the cozy little beach bar with the picnic tables and sand floor from 16 years ago. If you want someplace to grab a cold beer, chat with the locals, and bury your toes in the sand, go pay a visit to Pat.

Saturday, it was time for some new scenery. We'd read about the Yachtsman's Grill, which our Doyle guide said was run by an ex-boater who was extremely friendly to cruisers. Best of all, it was supposed to have a POOL that we could use if we ate or drank there. Score!! We moved a mile or two up the coast to the next mooring field, and dinghied to the Nelson's Spring complex that had a beach-side pool resembling the one in the ad from the cruising guide. One problem...after hauling our nearly 200-pound dinghy up the beach and out of the surf, Rene went to make sure we were at the right place. Surprise! This was the place where the Yachtsman's Grill used to be...until it re-opened three months ago at its new location down the beach. No worries...we heaved the dink back into the surf, motored a half-mile down the beach, and went through the motions again. (Note to anyone coming to Nevis: the Yachtsman's Grill is in the southern complex amidst the new pale yellow condos...NOT the white ones with green roofs to the north.)
We wandered into the Grill, talked to waitress Tallah, and found that yes, they did still have a pool in the back for us to use; yes, they'd be happy to bring drinks to us poolside; and of course, we could even have lunch served at the pool if we preferred. It was official. We had died and gone to cruiser heaven! After staking out a couple of lounge chairs on the palm-covered island at the center of the pool, we waded in to meet Tallah and our cold bevvies at the other end. We then swam under the bridge that connected the "island" to the main walkway, and soon saw a familiar face: Hugh, a young fisherman from South Africa whom we'd met at Patrick's bar, was taking the Yachtsman's chef out to his truck to show him a couple of gorgeous mahi mahi's that he'd caught that morning. Mahi was soon added to the blackboard of lunch about getting it straight from the sea to your table!

After lunch and some internet, the Yachtsman's owner, Greg, sat down with us for a chat. Greg has been in Nevis for a few years now, but spent a lot of time cruising the Leeward and Windward Islands prior to opening the restaurant. He grabbed a cruising guide from his shelf, and went about showing us some of his favorite anchorages and restaurants down-island. We really enjoyed talking to him, and have told him to expect a few of our cruising friends to come in for a visit over the next week or two. (You know who you are!)

As much as we wanted to stay a few more days in Nevis (I can't believe we're missing the Booby Island Race!), the weather dictated a hasty departure. We plan to stop in Montserrat overnight to break up the 70+ mile trip to Guadeloupe. Given the volcano's destruction of the southern half of the island, the only tenable anchorage is at the northwestern tip of Montserrat. Northerly swells are supposed to begin on Monday, meaning we have to be there and gone before then. We're already planning a longer return trip to Nevis after hurricane season, so we'll save our tour of the island and its inland beauty for next time. Cheers!

BTW, for those of you who think we spend too much time talking about good food, wine, and beach bars, you're probably right. Still, we have to give a special mention to the Lime Beach Bar behind Pat's tiki hut. A number of locals and tourists alike recommended it for dinner, and the Lime certainly lived up to its reputation. Their West Indies curried shrimp had just enough spice, and their jerk-glazed mahi mahi was perfectly cooked. Prices weren't unreasonable, and you could even enjoy the sunset before dinner from their roof-top seating area. For cruisers spending only a night or two in Nevis, it's tough deciding where to go for dinner. :-)

Feel free to view more pictures here.

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