Back in Guadeloupe, Marina Bas du Fort

Kincsem is back in Bas du Fort and there is a surprise:  the marina has no water, neither does the town and some seven neighboring towns.  Apparently an act of vandalism destroyed the water main and they’ve been trying to repair it for 5 days now.  Thankfully, we had made a lot of water recently so our tanks were almost full when we arrived.  But a marina without water means no showers or toilets ashore, no deck washing, etc. 

Bethanne, Tom and Ben joined Kincsem in Soper’s Hole, BVI, and we had a nice few days in the BVIs, swimming, snorkeling and exploring.

Quick hike to the lookout over Soper’s Hole

Starlink satellites are lighting the night sky!

The SUPs still exist!

Our plan was to sail to Saba in the Dutch Antilles next, which is over 80 miles away from the BVIs in a Southeasterly direction.  With only 12 hours of daylight, this is a long trip for Kincsem to make during daylight hours and impossible to do during daylight hours if we have to sail upwind.  The general wind direction at this time of year is Southeasterly – straight upwind - so we needed a good weather window.  One presented itself after a few days and we were off to Saba at first light from the Bitter End bay.  The wind backed from East to Northeast and freshened during the day, the result being that we reached the Saba mooring field at twilight – just enough light to tie up to a mooring on the West coast of Saba, in a place called Wells Bay.  Saba requires yachts to take moorings and the mooring gear is heavy and well maintained.  I tested it with 1,500 rpms in reverse as I usually test the anchor if we are anchoring.  No issue.  More of an issue was the swell and swirling winds under the high cliffs of Wells Bay which meant that Kincsem often lay sideways to the swell and rolled quite a bit – making sleep a bit difficult.  But the anchorage was spectacular with steep cliffs rising above us and just 3 other boats in sight. 

Approaching Saba

The mooring field on Saba.  Before the harbor was built, inhabitants had to climb a long set of stairs right above the life ring in this picture

To check into Saba, one has a 2 miles dinghy ride to the small harbor at Fort Bay on the South coast.  Definitely a wet adventure in the swell!  But when we got to the dinghy dock, the harbormaster on duty greeted us warmly and took our lines!  Definitely a first in the Caribbean!  The check-in with customs, immigration and the harbor office was efficient and we were soon off exploring the island by taxi.   The highlight was a long hike along the West side of Mount Scenery, the highest mountain on the island.

The check-in dock at Saba

This friendly local invited me to take his picture

We saw lots of these snakes which apparently are harmless

Pet iguana

Saba is probably the best looking island we’ve been to in the Caribbean.  The Dutch seem to pay a lot of money to maintain the roads and infrastructure.  What makes the biggest difference, though, is that by law, all houses have to be white with dark green trim and red roofs.  There are very few houses that do not comply or are in disrepair.   No car wrecks on the side of the road in Saba!

Dutch government office in The Bottom, the smaller of two settlements on the island

A sea of red roofs in Windward Side, the other settlement on Saba

Ben, who used to own a gourmet pub, producing a lovely meal on the anchorage at Saba

Our next island was St Eustatius or short Statia, another Dutch island.  Statia is less scenic and seems to benefit less from its relationship with the Netherlands than Saba.  The North side of the island is occupied by a huge oil storage facility and there are always several huge tankers being loaded or unloaded by barges.  The main town, Oranjestad, looks a bit ramshackle like many Caribbean towns and has little to offer the tourist other than an old fortress which was closed.  Nonetheless, we had a nice hike in Quill National Park up to the edge of the volcano although we didn’t reach the top vista point as it was too steep for us to get there.   I’m a hiker, not a climber.

From the fortress on Statia; lots of tankers at anchor

Nicer parts of Statia

Too steep!

These mountain crabs are very adept at blending into the surroundings

We got to talk at length to the owner of a little local restaurant in town who kindly kept the place open for us for a late lunch after our hike.  He complained that there was very little tourism in Statia, with a big hotel on the North side of the island being almost empty most of the time.  Cruise ships come and go but the passengers don’t spend any money in the town so cruise ships cost the island more than they bring in.   The island is a dive destination but the divers only frequent the two restaurants right at the shore next to the harbor – the walk up to his restaurant is just too much after a full day of diving!  So Statia is just a sleepy place without much going on.  We didn’t think that was so bad!

Approaching St Kitts – hard upwind, of course

We were much looking forward to visiting St Kitts and Nevis next but St Kitts in particular did not meet expectations.  It all started with check-in at Road Town which took over two hours – in addition to a good hour I had spent online completing forms before we went ashore.   One form was quite amusing as it required the crew to check a box what the relationship was between them and me.  The only option that made sense was “care giver”!    So Joerg and his care givers …. 

But the fun definitely stopped in the Immigration Office where a plumb, black woman answered my friendly “good morning” with a grunt and pointed to a board with a list of things we had to do for her.  Her list included the completing the eAPIS form, an Excel spreadsheet which is used for cruise ships!  We knew that form was discretionary because it wasn’t required when we entered Nevis in February – looked like she was putting us through the wringer just for the fun of it!   Well, after an hour at Immigration, we were ready for Customs.    The Customs office – published opening hours 0600 to 1900 - was closed – at 11 am on a Tuesday.   The guard said that the customs officer had left to run an errand an hour ago and would be back “shortly”.  At around noon, a customs car pulls up and the young officer jumps out.  In response to my “good morning sir,” he asks “what do you want”?!!!  No apology for his unexcused absence during business hours, just “what do you want?”!   Well, notwithstanding that lovely intro, the process went reasonably quickly so the stamps started flying onto the pages within a few minutes – in triplicate, of course. 

After customs only one more thing remained:  walk over to the harbor office in the cruise ship terminal and give them a form from Immigration.    I get there and ask a friendly police officer where the harbor office is.  You guessed it:  I find the door locked.  The officer did not know where the harbor guy was but he opined: “You may have to pay something so you will have to come back at 5 pm when we will have a cruise ship coming in.”  We, I was done with St Kitts:  I stuck the form under the door of the harbor office and left.  They can always come after me to collect their rubles! 

  When we had come ashore to clear in, Ben had left us to watch the England against France rugby match at a bar ashore.  To our surprise, he was back early because he couldn’t find a place to watch it.  His view was there was nothing to see in Road Town so we left and sailed to White House bay a few miles to the South.  A nice open bay, good swimming – just what we needed after the Road Town “experience”.  Unfortunately, the English team lost to France but Ben recovered after some additional Rose rations were dispensed!


White House Bay, St. Kitts.  The marina behind the hill was deserted.

In Nevis we visited the very well done Botanical Gardens but otherwise mostly retraced our steps from February including a lovely lunch at the Golden Rock restaurant.

Rainbow Gum Tree

For the trip from Charlestown, Nevis to the closest port of entry in Guadeloupe, Deshaies, the Southeasterlies finally caught up with us.  No way to do the 65 miles in daylight so we decided to stop for the night in Montserrat without checking in.  The anchorage in Road Bay at the border of the exclusion zone for the volcano was in black sand in front of a black beach.   No other boats in sight. 

Road Bay, Montserrat; the beach bar was closed ….

Stopping there also meant we could reach the Les Saintes islands the next day, which enabled us to skip Deshaies and check in at Les Saintes instead.  Check-in at Terres de Hautes, Les Saintes took all of 5 minutes ….

Back in Les Saintes


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