Voyage of Traveler / Blog

February 1, 2010

Traveler Postcard From St. Kitts and Nevis, and Statia

Filed under: Year 3: July09 - July10 Greece to Newport Beach, CA, Caribbean — mrlawlerjr @ 10:28 am

February 1, 2010
On passage to St. Martin

Hi, Everyone,

The past few days we have been moving fast, with one night each on the Lesser Antilles’ Leeward Islands of Nevis, St. Kitts and then Statia (also known by the Dutch name of as Sint Eustatius), and we are now on our way to St. Martin.

Nevis, January 29.  This was the first of two islands in the country of St. Kitts and Nevis, which gained its independence from Britain in 1983.  We took a mooring off the Four Seasons Resort, but quickly saw that it was closed. We thought at first it was the victim of the recession, but we learned it has been closed for a few years after suffering major damage from a hurricane.  It was a full moon, and many students from a nearby veterinary school were on the beach having a Jump Up (Caribbean term for a beach party with either a band or DJ and dancing.)  Brian took the dinghy in to check it out, had some fun, and partied until the wee hours.

The British first colonized Nevis in 1628, but a huge earthquake destroyed the coastal village known as Jamestown in 1680 and it disappeared under the sea.  In the 18th century the British built Fort Charleston, and under its guns it remained British and prospered with rich plantations.  In 1757, one of the future fathers of the USA, Alexander Hamilton, was born in Charleston.  But the last sugar plantation closed in 1930, and with it the island’s economy slowly declined.  Over the past ten years, the population has dwindled from 14,000 to 10,000.

St. Kitts, January 30.  When we arrived the wind was up a bit, gusting to 25 knots.  So rather than anchor we went into the marina and paid for a berth.  It was nice to use the fresh water on the dock to wash the boat and fill our two water tanks (234 gallons).  The residents in capital of Basseterre were thrilled with their Labor Party candidate’s re-election as Prime Minister, and were celebrating with a raucous horn-honking motorcade parade around the island and a free outdoor concert.  Brian saw some of the people he met the night before at the Jump Up on Nevis and joined them in the back seat of a Mustang convertible for the ride around town.  The concert music was loud, near our boat in the marina, and played on until 2am.  While the neighboring island of Nevis is struggling economically, St. Kitts enjoys relative prosperity largely due to the cruise ships stopping there.  As we departed, two ships arrived.

Columbus discovered the island in 1493 and gave it his own name.  (The island is also known as St. Christopher.)  In 1629 the Spanish brutally marched across the island killing the native Caribs and pushing the few survivors into the sea to drown, burning their villages.  Later, the British and French allied to defeat the Spanish, then fought over the island amongst themselves.  After the Battle of the Saints and the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the island became and has remained British. The distinctive red mailboxes and phone booths that you know from London are found all around St. Kitts, and cricket is the national sport.

Statia, January 31.  This tiny Dutch colony played a key roll in the United States’ battle for independence.  Cannons, rifles, gun powder, and other supplies were transported under Dutch-flagged ships from Amsterdam to Statia, and then on to the States.  On November 16, 1776, the “Andrew Doria,” one of the first ships in the US Navy and flying the flag of the newly-formed United States of America, arrived at Fort Oranje, Statia.  The fort’s commander fired a salute, making Statia the first foreign county to recognize the United States and conduct trade with her.

Brian and I walked through the historic fort, which has been well-restored, and tried to imagine what it would have been like to live back in those times.  We then hiked up to the spectacular crater rim of the island’s volcano, known as the Quill, about 1900 ft. high and covered in lush vegetation.  It’s rugged natural wonders reminded us of a scene from Jurassic Park.  Along the trail we met a cruising couple, Mike and Kate, from Canada on a boat called Mud Kat.   They were nice to share a bottle of water with us, and we met them later that night for a pot luck dinner and mai tais on their boat.

At 0800 the next morning, we slipped the mooring lines and headed for Simpson Bay, St. Martin, 32 nm north, where my daughter, Kellie, will be re-joining Traveler for a few months.

Living the Dream,
with Brian and Yansen

1 Comment »

  1. When in St. Martin remember what the Dutch say, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.”

    Comment by Jim Moodey — February 2, 2010 @ 9:09 am

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